Friday, February 29, 2008

Band of the Week

The Dodos

Sometimes I wish I was sitting in front of a mirror the first time I hear certain songs. If I had been in front of a mirror when I first heard the first few tracks from The Dodos new album a few months ago, I might have more descriptive words for you today. I might talk about the diameter of my eyes, or how far up on my forehead my eyebrows must have jumped. Maybe I would mention the shape of my gaping mouth, or the amount of drool that was left dangerously near the keyboard. Next time I will grab a mirror.

Meric Long (vocals/guitar) and Logan Kroeber (drums) are two musicians from San Francisco who have been playing together since 2006. The remarkable thing is that just two men walk on stage to an acoustic guitar and a worn drum set, and create the most electric, energetic, sound I have heard in years. With rhythmic strums, graceful vocal tones, and the most inventive drum play, The Dodos prepare to release their second album (first as The Dodos, formerly Dodo Bird) on March 18th via Frenchkiss Records.

Recently, Meric Long of The Dodos was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): What can you tell us about your new album, Visiter?
Meric Long (ML): It's a lot more representative of our live set than our last record, we recorded it after touring consistently for a year, in which we wrote most of the songs while on the road.

OA: Frenchkiss Records has an incredible stable of talent of which The Dodos are a welcomed addition. How did this signing come about, and how has your experience with Frechkiss been thus far?
ML: The match making came from Kevin Kusatsu who does A&R at Columbia. He told Syd Butler of Frenchkiss Records to come check us out at the Mercury Lounge in New York, which he did. After the show, Syd introduced himself and the rest is history. The label's been great since then, everyone's super on it and supportive, and it's been incredible having other people besides myself, Logan and our beloved annie southworth involved in making shit happen. all they ask is that we make records and tour which is what we love to do.

OA: There are a few other drum/guitar duos out there, but very few have the strong percussive sound that you two have. How was this sound developed, and have you considered adding other members to the band?
ML: The idea of 'big' drums has been there since the beginning. I've always been a huge fan of big toms, that can rattle your insides. I probably spent too much time hanging in drum circles.
We're working on adding one more person. In the direction the music is going I think it'll be necessary to have one more, but it won't be any sort of conventional spot.

OA: You have big cross country tour planned for the spring, but unfortunately no dates in Chicago*. Do you enjoy touring? What has been your favorite city to play, and what has been the strangest concert moment?
ML: we are planning on playing chicago this spring.....I don't know if we have a favorite city to play, but I tend to have a soft spot for cities that surprise me. In that regard, Albuquerque, Houston, and Vancouver have been good to us. I suppose a strange concert moment was when we were in Tucson, Arizona last year, and the opener before us was playing to a bunch of Hell's Angels that walked in. There was one of those 'craziest moments caught on film' type of shows playing on the bar TV set and the bikers were cracking up at this bull who had jumped into the audience and was malling people.....the whole time this blond baby faced dude was playing these really sullen love songs on his guitar. the combination of everything was sort of awesome. We were bummed when the Angel's left before we started our set.

*Additional dates were announce on Feb 28th including two shows in Chicago. There is a complete schedule on their myspace page.

OA: What are your thoughts on the role of new media (i.e. blogs, myspace, youtube, etc), as it relates to the success of independent bands and the music industry in general?
ML: Blogs, myspace, etc. on the side of a musician is great, cause you get your music out there so much more easily. On the side of a music fan it's even better.....I know I've learned about a gajillion bands in the past year alone. As to how that effects the success of band I'm not really sure cause it's still early to tell......the visibility for smaller bands is so much more, but I suppose that means there is more competition for occupying someone's ipod disk space.

OA: What's next for The Dodos?
ML: more records, more touring, more food.

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
ML: Stumptown, portland.

OA: I've read that you are a fan of Raymond Carver. What are your thought on the whole Tess Gallagher/Gordon Lish edited vs. unedited controversy? Has the work of Carver informed your song writing in anyway?
ML: I'd like to see the unedited version of 'what we talk about when we talk about love' for sure, as Carver intended it to be. damn publishing rights....... I couldn't say when or where, but I know there's been a time when I've gotten up and at least tried to write a song after reading a good Carver story. wonder what that sounded like.

Walking/Red and Purple/Eyelids/Fools (mp3)/Joe's Waltz/Winter/It's That Time Again/Paint the Rust/Park Song/Jodi (mp3)/Ashley/Season/Undeclared/God?

For more information on The Dodos please visit their website and to preorder Visiter go here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Reb Livingston with very dear friends Bruce Covey and Jill Alexander Essbaum

Reb Livingston

Connections in life, as in business, are always valuable, but for the creative mind these relationships may be even more valuable. These connections can be formed in many ways, but the quality connections are formed through mutual interests and promotion. The ability to help an artist along by spreading the word, publishing their work, or simply giving acknowledgement is vital in forming connections. It is through interactions that inspiration maybe found, opportunities may open up, and "success" will follow.

One poet who has successfully helped and been helped is Pittsburgh native Reb Livingston. As the co-editor of the literary journal No Tell Motel, Reb has helped many writers find their outlet and audience, and in return she has found an ever growing audience for her personal work. Her latest collection Your Ten Favorite Words was recently published by Coconut Books, and aside from being an editor, publisher, blogger, and mother, she doesn't have a lot going on.

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

Orange Alert (OA): What can you tell us about your latest collection, Your Ten Favorite Words?
Reb Livingston (RL): It was recently published by Coconut Books and is available for purchase at online retailers or orderable at most bookstores!

I can also tell you that there were about 30 different titles for it before I settled on Your Ten Favorite Words. At one time it was called Charm's Vandalism, Uncommon Concubine, The Miser(able) Kiss from an Uncommon Concubine, Shiver Closet, A Wince in Need of Gesture, Yet Exactly You, Trouble to Kiss, Conjured in a Closet and so on . . . I couldn't make a decision. I kept sending ideas to my editor Bruce Covey and dear friend Jill Alexander Essbaum and they'd shoot them down or push for the ones I liked least. Then in August 2006 I gave a reading (and this is where I really start to name drop) at Soon Productions in Ithaca, NY. My dear friend and former teacher David Lehman attended and said afterwards "Those were my ten favorite words!" and Karl Parker (another dear friend, oh I just have so very many) said "Your Ten Favorite Words! That's a great name for a book." And I agreed and it was decided. Then David invited Karl, Ivy Kleinbart and Theo Hummer back to his house to see his etchings (for real --and there were watercolors too!) and he mixed us yummy drinks like Manhattans and served berries sprinkled with powdered sugar he purchased earlier that day from a local farmers' market.

The reason David mentioned "favorite words" is because my poems use a lot of repetition. See, I have to constantly repeat myself in everyday life, cause nobody listens to me unless I make a big nutty scene and say something over and over again with the follow-up "Were you even listening?" My "favorite" phrase to my 3 year-old son these days is "What did I just say?" and to my 35 year-old husband "I TOLD you . . ." so it's only natural for this condition to permeate my work. My next book is nutastic repetition, I think there's a total of 15 unique words in the whole book. I got something to say and you WILL understand, oh yes, you will.

In Your Ten Favorite Words, a word like "cabbage" appears in four or five different poems. I don't care for cabbages, once tried the cabbage soup diet, but it was a failure cause I couldn't eat the wretched-stank cabbage soup. I settled on cabbage because one time someone called me his "petite chou chou" and I had to look it up on Babel Fish cause I took four years of Spanish in high school and don't know a lick of French. Well, Babel Fish told me it meant "cabbage" so I was all "Who you calling a cabbage, jackass?" and this guy was like, "It's a term of endearment used in Paris, hello ninny!"

OA: You have your hand in many different projects while still maintaining an active personal output. How much time each day do you spend writing each day?
RL: See that's the problem. I'm not writing everyday -- cause I'm too busy publishing other poets in my online magazine No Tell Motel or in The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel anthology series or somebody's book at my micropress No Tell Books. In 2006 and 2007 I published a total of 10 books. That was a mixture of lunacy and dumbassery so I'm scaling back in 2008 and 2009. No Tell Books is doing 2 titles in 2008 and probably 2 or 3 in 2009.

I believe every "serious" poet should, in some way, assist and cultivate other poets. Poetry is a gift economy, nobody is making much/any money off her work. Some make livings teaching or editing at mid-sized to large publishing houses, sometimes poets get paid to speak, most make their living (or the bulk of it) doing something completely unrelated to poetry. Almost nobody is surviving on royalties and poetry book sales. So one must remember that every publication, every invitation to read, every review -- those are all gifts. Do you want to be the asshole who shows up to every Christmas empty-handed and leaves with a bag full of presents? I don't. I pride myself in being a completely different kind of asshole.You don't need much or any money to support other poets. It's easy to request free review copies and once you write a few reviews,review copies show up in your mailbox almost like magic. One doesn't need money to start a reading series in the community. One can spend very little money (or even do it for free) starting an online magazine. And with print-on-demand technology or other DIY means, one can publish a book for a few hundred dollars -- and in regard to POD, that includes an ISBN and distribution (i.e. you're available on Amazon, orderable in bookstores, etc.). One can discuss and promote other poets and books on her blog, speaking at conferences, during her own readings -- there's all kinds of ways to contribute back to the general poetry community. One's greatest gift is her time, energy and passion.

OA: As fellow parent, how are you currently passing on your love for the written word on to your son?
RL: I haven't been too successful yet. My son is 3 and he's heavily into the pictures. Sometimes he covers my mouth when I try to "read" to him. It's like my voice ruins the experience. In fact, I believe I turned him off to words all together. He's expressive speech delayed and usually refuses to talk. He'll say a word, just so I know he can say it and then he never says it again. He prefers to have me psychically read his mind and pamper his every need. My pediatrician says it's his Y chromosome, the Y chromosome stands for lazY.

OA: What type of impact has "new media" (i.e. blogs, myspace, youtube, on-line journals, etc) had on you as a writer and publisher?
RL: Huge -- without it there'd be no No Tell Motel, no No Tell Books, no online sales and very likely I'd still be smashing my pretty skull against the doors of the many print publications who were quite slow in embracing my work. New media has made it possible for me to get my poems out there, to a wide (in poetry terms) audience. Without new media, I'd only know a fraction of the poets I know now and even if I had a bazillion dollars to publish a magazine and press the old-fashioned way, I very likely wouldn't have connected with poets like Rebecca Loudon, Bruce Covey, Jill Alexander Essbaum, Laurel Snyder, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Shafer Hall -- and the hundreds of poets who have appeared at No Tell Motel. I wouldn't have bothered to ask a friend to introduce me to Ravi Shankar at AWP, if Ravi hadn't published an essay of mine in his online journal, Drunken Boat years before. And if we hadn't met, we never would have written our collaborative chapbook, Wanton Textiles. And it never would have occurred to me that I could use my own press to publish my own work, if it wasn't for reading blogs and connecting with other DIYers like Shanna Compton of Bloof Books and Scott Pierce of Effing Press.

I never would have been able to become a publisher while living in a DC suburb, raising a small child -- if I couldn't do everything from my laptop at home.My work, my perceptions, my opportunities, my entire life is dramatically different because of this freaky new media.

OA: As an independent publisher through No Tell Books, what is your opinion of the current state of the small press? Why isn't poetry more marketable, and what can the poet do to make themselves more marketable?
RL: In my neck of the woods, the state of small presses is very good, at least for presses receptive to the new opportunities created by "new media." The opportunities to become a publisher have vastly increased over the past ten years. Of course, distribution and warehousing can be crushing -- and good luck getting into bookstores that are using less and less floor space for books. But the majority of my press' sales are online and in-person sales. My distribution was arranged by my printer ( with Ingram (who would have never dealt with my teeny press directly). I pay $100 for and ISBN and distribution per book. No warehousing costs or returns because it's print-on-demand. Bargain.

Poets shouldn't worry about marketability. If you wanna be marketable, write something people want to read like a novel or memoir. Seriously. Oprah is not inviting you on her show. We turn to poetry because we care about poetry. Poetry isn't supposed to be marketable. That said, if you want people to read your poetry, first accept the numbers are going to be small and then get off your snobby, prissy ass and promote yourself, your work and (gasp) other poets and *their* work. Don't expect somebody else to take up your book's cause. It's your baby, now be a good mama and nurture that needy little fucker. There's no correct one way to do it-- but generally it involves "making connections" with other poets, it doesn't *have* to, but generally that's how it's going to happen --and I'm not talking about hobnobbing at expensive conferences or enrolling yourself in an MFA program. I'm talking about contributing to the poetry community, what I mentioned above. It's like complaining about your community and school sucking, but never attending a neighborhood watch, or a PTA meeting, or baking those cupcakes for the bake sale, or buying those girl scout cookies, or voting, or even paying your taxes. Other publishers, reading series curators, reviewers -- i.e., other POETS who are already doing the work, they don't give two craps if you have an MFA, or waited tables at Bread loaf or whatever. They'll be much more interested in you and giving your work a chance if they see you're doing your part. Cause guess what? They ain't cha hos! It's karma. I'm much more likely to take your kid to school in my carpool, if you feed my cat when I'm away on vacation. It doesn't guarantee I'll drive your kid around.I mean he could be the kind of kid who picks his nose and flicks it.If that's the case, there's nothing you can do to convince me to let him in my car.

Sometimes I come across poets who explain that they are just *too busy* to contribute anything to the poetry community other than their own very important poems. Yes, they have time to write their own poems, mass submit them and follow up with editors who hold their work a week longer than the submission guidelines stated, but they have other priorities too. They have jobs, children, spouses, schoolwork, household chores, sick parents, dentist appointments --they don't live in lollipop gardens, cruise around in pumpkin Hummers, like the all the other poets who find time to contribute. It's my firm opinion that if you do not live in a Lollipop garden and top your vehicle with Cool Whip, you have no right to expect others to promote your poetry on your behalf.

OA: What's next for Reb Livingston?
RL: God Damsel! That's the name of my next book that'll be out from Coconut Books -- in the not too distant future. I'm still writing it. Maybe I'll find another few words to put into it. Or maybe I'll just stick with the 15 I already came up with. They're really good words.

No Tell Books is publishing Personations by Karl Parker in the Spring, Cadaver Dogs by Rebecca Loudon in late Summer/early Fall and in early 2009, Bruce Covey's Glass is Really a Liquid.

Also, in late 2009 No Tell Books will release an anthology, an introduction to contemporary poetry geared for youngish people (high school/college aged). Charlie Jensen and I will be co-editing that.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
RL: Hell no. Sometimes on the weekends my house reeks of it when my husband is home. I tolerate the smell for the sake of my marriage. But make no mistake, I do not like it.

OA: Some feel music and poetry are closely related. What type of music do you enjoy? Does music ever inform your work in anyway?
RL: Cyndi Lauper informed some of the poems in Your Ten Favorite Words.

For more information on Reb Livingston please visit her website, and don't forget to check No Tell Motel.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Artist of the Week

Jennifer Davis

One question that I tend stay away from when talking with artists is that of inspiration, mainly because the artists inspiration tends to vary greatly. The artist is typical focused on one moment or object, but it is a highly creative eye that is focused. Faces may blur or become a patchwork of lines and colors or they may be replicated to perfection, it is all in the skilled hands of the artist. Their inspiration can be drawn from a single molecule, or a blade of grass, or a swam of people. Often people become animals or animals become people as they dance or die, it's all a creation based in some part on a moment in time.

One artist who has a wildly perceptive eye is Minnesota's Jennifer Davis. She has the ability to create incredible adventures or quite fantasy out of simple things. Her work seems to live in a realm beyond imagination, a world filled with rabbits and seals and more. Her work has been featured on the covers of many books and albums, and she is currently participating in the Inaugural Group Exhibition: FRESH : Gallery Selections at Cerasoli Gallery in Los Angeles.

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

Orange Alert (OA): Most of your work seems to be inspired by childhood images. Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you typically work from a source image?
Jennifer Davis (JD): I am always interested in the most basic human emotions and experiences- the stuff we all have in common. Sometimes that just naturally boils down to early/childhood experiences.

Yes, I often work from source images. I have a massive collection of vintage magazines, catalogs, newspapers, etc. because I used to make a lot of collages. I still regularly mine those sources for ideas but these days I am more interested in drawing and reinterpreting.

OA: I have seen you reference the work of Matthew Feyld (an Orange Alert almun) in a previous interview. Could there be a collaboration in the works? What are your thoughts on collaborations in general?
JD: I don’t remember the context but I probably listed him as an inspiration. I don’t know him but I am inspired by his work. I am fascinated by his minimal and spare yet POWERFUL imagery.

I have participated in some fabulous collaborations. I am just starting one now with “anonymous art student from holland.” “anonymous art student from holland” will describe a picture to me and I will paint it. That is my idea of a good time.

I have an ongoing collaboration with my friend Amy Rice. She is a stencil artist. She makes large scale stencil interpretations of my work and I have made paintings and collages inspired by her work. We have had a couple of shows with the results of our collaboration. We have also messed around with some Gocco prints.

Left: Amy Rice (stencil) and Right: Jennifer Davis

OA: Your work recently appeared in "The Last American Valentine: Illustrated Poems to Seduce and Destroy". How did you get involved in this project? What are your thoughts on the connection the artist and the writer?
JD: I “met” the authors/publishers of the book project, “Write Bloody”, on Myspace of all places. This is a new kind of collaboration for me but we have chatted about some possible future projects so I may have the opportunity to work with more writers.

I have worked on art projects for several musicians that I love and I think it is a similar relationship. (Benjamin Brackett, Brad Senne, Brian Just, and Mason Jennings

OA: What can you tell us about the Atypical Project?

JD: From Atypical:

“ATYPICAL is a multi format, limited edition art and philanthropicproject that functions in a number of ways: as a collection ofcontemporary art,design and expression, as a publication, as anexhibition, and as a collective family of like minded creatives aimingto raise money for charity through their artwork and vision.”

“The collection will be housed inside of a very special box similar tothat of a childhood makeshift treasure chest and will contain: LimitedEdition silkscreens from an amazing group of artists and illustrators,a t-shirt edition created by couture fashion designer Jared Gold, anexclusive designer toy series by Raymond Choy the head of TOY2R, Jewelry pieces by ODDBIRD, CHARCOAL DESIGNS or MADAME FORTUNA (inselected copies), handmade patches by artist and Younity founder AliceMizrachi, and more treats which are still in the works.”

The beneficiary for the premier Atypical collection, which will be released in the fall of 2008, is “One Laptop Per Child.” For more info and a complete list of participants go here.

OA: What are your thoughts on "new media" (i.e. blogs, etsy, on-line galleries, etc) as it relates to the promotion of the artist?
JD: These things have definitely put a lot of the power back in the hands of the artist. I am personally addicted to all of the above.At the same time, I cherish my relationships with the more traditional gallery system. After all, I am most interested in focusing my attention on making art, the details related to “running the show” can be very distracting and consuming.

OA: What's next for Jennifer Davis?
JD: I had two big shows in the past 8 months here and here and now that they are finished I am looking forward to locking myself up in my studio and doing some experimenting. I want to take some time to play around without as many deadlines. I am planning a show at Cerasoli Gallery later in 2008.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JD: Yes. Home brewed coffee- any kind, all day, everyday.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? Who are a few of your favorites?
JD: My studio is in my home and my BF has a little recording studio in our basement. Our house is full of music.

For more information on Jennifer Davis please visit her website.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Hosho McCreesh 37 Psalms From the Badlands (Kendra Steiner Editions #85)

"It's a much more immediate process--writing haiku-esque stuff--you have to be really present in the moment, really paying attention, really on your game, as it were." - Hosho McCreesh

So much of the writing process is focused on taking a single moment in time and turning it into a story or a poem. Somewhere is the process you hope to find a meaning or a purpose to your story. However, when working with haiku or "breath" poems, the writer must condense his or her thoughts and still capture the essence of the moment. They must peel back their words until they are left with only essential, most necessary elements. There is almost a meditative quality to the whole process, and when you add in the element of nature, your senses are heightened and awareness is vital.

"Morning fog seeps up
from the thermal nethers,
ground too hot for snow-

& the fireweed blooms year-round."

It is an awareness that has almost become unnatural to us, as workers, as consumers, as modern Americans. We are taught from early on that "progress" involves removing all signs of nature from our landscape and developing structures where there once stood trees. In 37 Psalms From The Badlands, Hosho McCreesh captures very specific moments in nature as only he could see them. He has chosen to focus on the sights, sounds, and textures of New Mexico, and personally, having barely travelled away from the Midwest, I can almost touch these fantastically vivid snapshots.

37 Psalms from the Badlands was printed by Kendra Steiner Editions in a limited run of 70 copies. I sit here studying #25, so get your copy (only $4) today!

Unwed Sailor Little Wars (Burnt Toast Vinyl, March 18th)

"Should I get married? Should I be good?Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and faustus hood?" - Gregory Corso from Marriage

Instrumental music is very similar to abstract art. The meaning, the focus, the message is completely up to the viewer or the listener. Yes, you occasionally will receive a title to shed a small amount of light on the artist's intent, but most often you are left on your own to discover the hidden truths and secrets. As in abstract art, this music can shift quickly from soft and graceful to harsh and aggressive. A great deal depends on context and environment, as in music the package and title may be deceiving.

Unwed Sailor is an instrumental group that has been making interesting and intricate music for the last 10 years. Led by Jonathan Ford, Unwed Sailor has created an honest work of art. Little Wars consists of 9 songs and 45 minutes of the beautiful rock music you may ever hear. You can feel the passion and precision that went into this album. I not sure who these little wars are against, but if I had to guess I would say these are internal wars. The "little" wars that we struggle with on a daily basis, the questions that we ask ourselves when no one is around.

Copper Island/Little Wars (mp3)/The Garden/Aurora/Campanile/Echo Roads/Nauvoo/Lonely Bulls/Numeral

Between March 27th and April 18th Unwed Sailor will appear in Chicagoland three times, and for a complete schedule of tour dated check out their website.

New Release Tuesday

Beach House - Devotion Listen to: Gila (mp3) (stream)
Goldfrapp - Seventh Tree (stream)
Peasant - On The Ground
Sunny Day Sets Fire - Stranger/Remix [EP] Listen to: Stranger (mp3) (stream)
Christopher Willits and Ryuichi Sakamoto - Ocean Fire (US Release)
Team Genius - Hooray E.P.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Morning Mix

This week's mix was somewhat inspired by this painting from Chicago's Sarah Nesbit. Yet is it more of a mixture of everything that I am listening to right now. "Monster Log" features music from Headlights, The Interiors, Karl Blau, The Dodos, C. Robin Madigan, Hysterics, and more. Download the zip here.

Artwork: "Monster Log" by Sarah Nesbit

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

Orange Alert is proud to announce that, starting in March, we will be running regular concert reviews. This will all begin on Monday, March 3rd with the review of St. Vincent show at New York Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on Feb. 28th. These reviews and accompany photographs will be provided by photographer Dominick Mastrangelo (OA interview).

More on St. Vincent:

"St. Vincent is Annie Clark, born in Tulsa, OK, the middle child of nine brothers and sisters. While most little girls were still playing with dolls, Annie preferred crafting homespun guitars from cardboard and rubber bands. By the time she was twelve, she had moved on to the real thing and fallen quickly in love. Growing up in Bible-belted Texas, Clark found music by means of Coltrane records, found people by means of Tennessee Williams plays, and found philosophy by means of her Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian, and Meher Baba-loving family. All of this finds its way, with smirks and reverence, into her music.

St. Vincent makes cinematic pop epics that feel at times like Paris in the ’20s before all the fun ended. Or, conversely, an orchestra of pure modernity—a new American music, informed by jazz, gospel blues, Southern folk music, and classical composition but—in the end—an animal original unto itself.

On Marry Me, St. Vincent’s Beggars Banquet debut, we see a smartly crafted deluge of guitar, bass, and beats pulsing forward with warmth and immediacy alongside Annie’s classy soprano. Her lyrics can be weird or tongue-in-cheek or dead serious, capturing verily what it feels like to be 24 years old in America and caught up in the delirium of love blues and wartime blues and the various swashbuckling adventures of existence. Horns and strings cry out brassy and full-bodied over digital keyboards. Songs rock out vigorously, break down into squiggling post-noise-rock deconstructions, roll out mellow and slow-flowing as a river. Backing harmonies and kiddie choirs loom in the distance, rise, and lilt above the stately grandiosity."

Listen to: Now Now (mp3)

Remaining tour dates:
Feb 24 Columbus, Ohio Wexner Center
Feb 25 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Andy Warhol Mueum
Feb 26 Washington, DC The Rock and Roll Hotel
Feb 27 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania First Unitarian Church
Feb 28 Brooklyn, New York Music Hall of Williamsburg
Feb 29 New York, New York Bowery Ballroom
Mar 01 Cambridge, Massachusetts Middle East Underground
Mar 06 New York, NY Terminal 5 / Plug Awards
Apr 26 Indio, California Coachella Music Festival

Another band that we are hoping to cover is Say Hi (formerly Say Hi to Your Mom), who earlier this month released their fifth studio album The Wishes And The Glitch.

Listen to: Toil and Trouble (mp3)

February 24 - Waldron Arts Center - Bloomington, IN
February 25 - The Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH
February 26 - Skully's - Columbus, OH
February 27 - The Gypsy Hut - Cincinnati, OH
February 29 - Soundlab - Buffalo, NY
March 1 - Great Scott - Boston, MA
March 2 - Bowery Ballroom - New York, NY
March 3 - Johnny Brenda's - Philadelphia, PA
March 4 - The Black Cat - Washington, DC
March 5 - The Boot - Norfolk, VA
March 6 - Local 506 - Chapel Hill, NC
March 7 - The Earl - Atlanta, GA
March 8 - The Bottletree Cafe - Birmingham, AL
March 12 - SXSW - Austin, TX
March 13 - SXSW - Austin, TX
March 14 - SXSW - Austin, TX
March 15 - SXSW - Austin, TX
March 16 - The Cavern - Dallas, TX
March 18 - The Hi-Dive - Denver, CO
March 19 - Kilby Court - Salt Lake City, UT
March 21 - Spaceland - Los Angeles, CA
March 22 - Bottom Of The Hill - San Francisco, CA
April 2 - Venue TBA - Portland, OR
April 3 - Chop Suey - Seattle, WA

This Ottawa band can really get the feet moving, and they are doing in more of a classic style. When most bands turn to heavy electronics and dance beats, Hilotrons focus on creating fun, energetic rhythms with the basic instruments. Sure there a few electronics here and there, but for the most part this album has a very organic sound. There music is almost ska, almost punk, but mostly good straight-up dance rock.

Happymatic will be released on April 1st on Kelp Records, and by Saved by Vinyl, who offer Happymatic in LP format (white vinyl!!) which includes a free MP3 download of the record.

Listen to: Dominika (mp3)

Minnesota's home to Justin Schweim (bass), Bradley Hale (drums, vocals), Cacie Dalager (vocals, guitar), and Britty Hale (keyboard) who come together to form Now, Now Every Children. This band creates music this both cute and tiny, and hugely powerful. This contrast is largely possible because of the vocal abilities of Cacie Dalager. Her voice so both soft and innocent, and forcefully powerful. Their first ep, "Not One, But Two" EP (AR039, released 2/19/08) is the first of two EPs that will be coming out before their full-length LP in May.

Listen to: Not One, But Two (mp3)

This Spring belongs to Blitzen Trapper! Not only are they embarking on a coast to coast tour, but they just appeared on Daytrotter (again!), released a "Live/Acoustic EP" (exclusively available on iTunes), and put together an exclusive tour ep.

2008 Tour Ep:
1. Silver Moon
2. Going Down
3. Shoulder Full of You
4. Preacher's Sister's Boy
5. Black Rock
6. Big Black Bird

Blizten Trapper will be in Chicago on 4/06 at Schubas with Fleet Foxes.
Listen to: "Sci-Fi Kid" (40 Thieves Remix) (mp3)

The Peel Back: Flat Duo Jets Two Headed Cow (Chicken Ranch Records, 2/12/08)

This album doesn't fit the typical mold for "The Peel Back", but it is not your typical album. Flat Duo Jets (Dexter Roweber and Crow) formed back in the mid-80's and played together unit 1999. In that time they played on both underground and major labels. Their sound began as a raw and honest interpretation of classic rockabilly music. This album, Two Headed Cow, is the companion soundtrack to the 2006 documentary on the life of Flat Duo Jet's frontman Dexter Romweber. All seventeen tracks on this album were recorded in 1986, and in that case it is perfect for a peel back. This album is a great look back at the pure energy and the powerful sound that these two men created.

Listen to: Rock House (mp3)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Watch List

1. The Diaphanoids: Allegedly from outer space, Andrea Bellentani and Simon Maccari create dance music with an unashamed look back at the music of the 70's and 80's. This is top notch Italian space disco. Their ep, Mermaids Of Lunaris, will be released on March 31st. Listen to: Weightless Motionless (mp3)
2. Heroes of Popular Wars: "You'll often find a 2 minute pop song surrounded by jams on both the intro and the outro. I guess that's how we do." That is exactly what this Brooklyn band does. Wrapped around a gooey pop center are harsh experimental electronic nosies and samples. Truly enjoyable and unusual. Listen to: There's the Bell (mp3)
3. Meho Plaza: This Los Angeles based trio is a high energy crew who are preparing for their upcoming tour, are all set to release their debut album on May 6th. Listen to: I Sold my Organs (mp3)

1. "Calling in Sick to Die" by Josh Honn: New Release fan and frequent commenter, Josh Honn, has a clever yet tragic story up at 2ndhand.
2. "Ape Walk" by Nick Ostdick: This is an incredible story, friendship, drugs, action... it's got it all!
3. "No Pretty Boy" by Rusty Barnes: I honesty can't stop reading Mr. Barnes' flash fiction. He has the incredible ability to do more with less, and still tells an incredible story. I am working on questions as you read this... Check your inbox...
4. "The String Manual" by Christopher Fritton: This one isn't new, but I thought I would revisit the wonderful work of Christopher Fritton in preparation for his new chap from sunnyoutside, My Fingernails Are Fresnel Lenses.
5. "Brief History of Girl as Match" by Kristy Bowen: A beautifully designed pdf chap from this Chicagoan.
6. Two Poems by Joseph Veronneau: "Placement" is a really moving piece. Nice work JV!

1. Midnight blue LG 7.3 cu. ft. Ultra Capacity: I went dryer shopping today, and this is not what I brought. I did saw at for a long time. Five elderly salesmen, still wearing their class rings, asked me if they could help me. I just stared. $1,420
2. Sustainable Bamboo Bath Caddy w/ Book Stand & Wine Glass Holder: I swear I saw a picture of Morrissey using one of these once, but I may be mistaken. $48.75
3. Pieces and Pieces #1: The DIY paper zines is alive and well! $4
4. Scribble Faster #2: The Mix Tape: Megan Gerrity is a writer who has published three compact chaps/zine. Megan tells us of some past relationships relating them to mix tapes. $2

1. Drexter Issue #2: This is a great Art zine!
2. Ryhmefest "Man in the Mirror" Mixtape: This is Chicago's Rhymefest paying honest tribute to Michael Jackson. It takes you back to an era when Michael was King!

1. Basia Bulat "In The Night": This is her new single out on Rough Trade.
2. Nicole Atkins "Maybe Tonight": Clowns scare me!
3. Sound Opinions of Conan: Chicago music critics on Conan.
4. In Search of Why? pt 3 and pt 4
5. Headlights "Cherry Tulips"

Friday, February 22, 2008

Band of the Week

The Battle Royale

When you start a band, write a few songs, cover a few songs, meet after school and practice in the basement, when does it become real? When is a band really a band? I believe that the band begins the second that first note is played. The band is formed the second that knowing glance and half smile is shared when you know you have something special. There may not be a name or a plan, but the sound of friends creating music… that is the essence of the band.

The Battle Royale is a group of friends (John Pelant (vocals, guitar), Grace Fiddler (bass, vocals), Sam Robertson (organ) and Mark Ritsema (synth, vocals)) from Minneapolis, Minn. They make high-energy dance rock, and catchy sing-a-long folkpop tunes. Their second album Wake Up, Thunderbabe, was released last month on Afternoon Records.

Recently, Mark, John, and Grace of The Battle Royale were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): The name Battle Royale makes me think of classic WWF action, and Hacksaw Jim Dugan storming to the ring with his trusty 2x4. What is the story behind the name?
John Pelant (JP): Mark thought of the name. I used to not like it. We were C-Section beforehand and I guess that was too visceral or something so we changed it to the Battle Royale. I’m alright with it now. Mark's crazy in a good way
Mark Ritsema (MR): The name Battle Royale is actually the name of a Japanese cult film where kids in the future are sent to fight to death. None of us had seen the movie when we decided on the name, but we thought it fit pretty well. I am the only one who has gotten around to seeing it, and it made me happy. It would’ve been weird to be stuck with a name of a bad movie you know? I guess it was good luck.
Grace Fiddler (GF): The Battle Royale was actually the 2nd or 3rd name we have had, depending on when you want to say the band started. The other two were on the opposite ends of the band name spectrum – one was way sissy (Love and Happy Hour) and one was way hard core (C-Section). So, when Mark approached us with The Battle Royale, it was sort of a mixture of the moods of the two past names.

OA: After touring the country for a year, I bet you have a few stories. What has been your favorite city to visit, and what has been the most unusual thing that has happened?
JP: Sioux Falls was the most fun. The most unusual thing was the weather driving through Iowa. Our van lost its wipers during a torrential down pour. Then we had to stop because we almost were whisked away by a tornado. Omaha was a weird eerie place.
MR: Well, we have really only toured the Midwest, but our favorite city so far is Eau Claire, Wisconsin. There are always a bunch of kids at the show and the place we play (Racys, the Nucleus) has the most amazing sandwiches. It is also right on a river and we are told there is no police jurisdiction on the river side, so crazy things always end up happening, like some girl tubing down the river flashing us, and its like there is more broken glass from beer bottles than rocks. It’s amazing. Besides that we saw a Tornado in Iowa and had to take cover in a rest stop that felt like it was going to blow over.
GF: Racy's in Eau Claire probably has the best vegetarian sandwich that I've ever eaten. Hands down. Both other than that... That same tornado in Iowa that Mark mentioned above was pretty insane. I was in a different car, a bit farther up the highway, and the winds from the tornado literally pushed the car over a bit in the road. At that point, we pulled off into this great antique clothing/furniture store, and I shopped until the storm passed. That antique store was awesome. It had Elizabeth Taylor's bed in the movie "Giant". Good times.

OA: Your new album, Wake Up, Thunderbabe, has two distinct sounds, Side A contains danceable electro-pop and Side B has a more toned down acoustic sound. Why was the album arranged this way? Was it planned to have these two styles or is that just what came out while recording?
JP: It was planned. I don't know. I said one day to mark, "Would you be down with doing a half folk half electric record." He said, "yes," Grace and Sam were also cool with it. I write a lot of songs that have a folksy feel to them. The songs are softer and just as pop as the dance stuff. I ended up with so many 'folk' songs that I had to get them out of my head. I liked playing them with Mark, Grace and Sam because we originally were a folk band. It was lots a fun to play a whole new style with them, one that harked back to the old days. The songs themselves turned out alright. Grace has a really pretty voice and you get to hear more on folk songs. Mark is really fun to play music with 'cause he's down for anything and has good ideas/skills. Sometimes I feel exhausted in the electric dance department so taking a different road, the folk one that I enjoy so much, was a breath of fresh air. I thought it might be a good idea to hear a record that was half electric and half folk, I think the two blend together really well, if you listen you can see the songs themselves are really similar.
MR: It was very planned. John Pelant who plays guitar has his roots in folk music and that’s what he is really good at. He had written all these song that couldn’t work electronically, but that we really liked, and we didn’t care about sticking to a certain style, and we could have lots of fun playing different instruments on the folkish songs too. Grace plays violin, and clarinet on some songs, and I play piano.
GF: I was really excited to play a bunch of instruments for this record. If it had just been an electro-pop album, I doubt that we would have orchestrated it the way that we did. But because those instruments were already out, we ended up including them on a few of the dance songs, as well.

OA: Afternoon Records seems to have an eye for talented bands. How has your experience been with Ian and the folks from Afternoon?
JP: Ian is pretty unusual in that he is very sexual and violent towards us. During recording he'll often make you feel so unwelcomed that you'll begin to question your own self-worth. In the end though, he'll start to come on to you and the recording job somehow gets done in a weird process of Ian’s violent/sexual attacks.
MR: REALLY GOOD. When Ian signed us, we went from being a joke band to being a real band that was pretty bad, and finally to a real band that is pretty alright. Ian would always talk about stuff like "I send all my cds to pitchfork" and it kind of inspired us just to try harder and write better songs. Ian has done basically everything but write our songs for us. He gets us really good shows, and is amazing with publicity. All the bands are really nice too and its fun being a family with them. The Poison Control Center and We all have hooks for Hands are our favorite to play with. Also A Night in the box, everyone is so nice. It feels also like Afternoon Records has the potential to get very popular, and its almost like a competition on the label who will make the record that will make AR really big. It’s healthy competition.
GF: Well said. I've ended up meeting a bunch of people that I know I wouldn't have thanks to Afternoon. It's one big family. We've been trying to have Afternoon records thanksgivings and Christmas, but we will see if those come together.

OA: What are your thoughts on "New Media"? Do you feel music blogs and on-line reviews can have an impact on your success?
JP: I really don't ever read blogs. I think they have maybe done something for us. I only know one music blogger and he's nuts. Thank you for asking me questions and having an interest ---I don't think you're nuts. But I’ve never met you.
MR: Yea, Said the Gramophone is my favorite blog, and I trust them. So I think a lot of people trust a lot of blogs, and I think they have helped us a lot.
GF: Absolutely. Kids these days don't read much in print. There was even this thing in the newspaper the other day that said in that some country in Europe is actually paying kids to go the library now. So I think the more news outlets available online the better, since it is what people are now paying the most attention to.

OA: What's next for The Battle Royale?
MR: We're writing another record right now. Its gonna be more of a fusion of our folk side and dance side. I think it’s an untapped genre that could be realllyyy cool. We are gonna tour this summer, hopefully the UK, and just try our hardest until its obvious we need to stop.
GF: Record a demo this spring, play hella shows over summer, rock and roll.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes what is your favorite type of coffee, and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JP: I like a dark roast. But I also like light and medium... I really don't give a shit as long as it doesn't taste like motor oil. There other day I made a shit cup that was wayyy too strong.... it made me sick and tired of all things. Sometimes Folgers is deceiving.
MR: Brueggers Bagels have my favorite coffee. The Hazelnut. yummmm.
GF: Have it every day. I have an awkward time between classes at school, so I usually spend it in this former frat house turned coffee shop. Kind? Black coffee.

OA: What is the last great book you have read?
JP: The trial and Death of Socrates--Socrates is too wise for his own good.
MR: Miranda July: No One Belongs Here More Than You.
GF: Right now I am reading "The New Kings of Nonfiction", a collection of essays and articles compiled by Ira Glass. So far, so good!

Wake Me Up/Notebooks (mp3)/Custom Clothes/Confessions Pt. 2/Hollercopter/Racecar (mp3)/Scream Scream (mp3)/Our Thoughts Are A-Pourin' (mp3)/Shook Up/Thunderbabe/Let's Leave

For more information on The Battle Royale please check out their myspace page and to order their album visit Afternoon Records.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Jill Summers

"He had married June because her feet were huge, eleven-wide and flat as flippers. They produced a heady bouquet with a Limburger-esque pungency and no trace of the all-too-common ammonia in more pedestrian cases. They were true specimens, and they disgusted him." from In Crawling Place

The art of storytelling is an ancient tradition that goes beyond simply being a writer. To be a storyteller you must connect to the audience in a different way then just placing thoughts on a page. There is more attention placed on emphasis, context, and emotions. The storyteller must delivery and captivate.

Chicago's, Jill Summers is a storyteller in the classic sense of the word. Her aural delivery is so casually captivating you cannot help but be drawn into the images of love, hate, fear, and rejections. She spins tales of relationships that are genuine and honest, almost to honest at times. From secretly feeding your vegetarian husband meat products to the relational habits of insects, her work is universal yet slightly unsettling. Her audio vignettes have been featured on Chicago Public Radio's Third Coast Audio Festival, and a sample of her written work can be found a THE2NDHAND.

Recently, Jill was able to answer a few of my questions on her way back from the DMV.

Orange Alert (OA): In an interview you did about a year ago with Joanne Hinkel, you said "I've always written, but I never thought of myself as a writer". Has this opinion changed over the last year? In your opinion what makes someone a writer?
Jill Summers (JS): I think what I meant when I said that was that I don't think about being a writer so much as I just write and I always have. I guess a writer is just someone that writes.

OA: Your degree is quite unique, MFA in Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts, and as far as I can tell is only offered at Columbia. What does this degree entail and what might someone with an MFA in IBaPA do?
JS: It's a book arts program within an interdisciplinary arts department, which is really sort of odd and I always assumed a remnant of some historic organizational weirdness at Columbia. I studied bookbinding, printing, and paper making and completed a required core of visual, sound, movement, literary and dramatic arts classes. Some grads I know work as binders or conservators or run independent presses. For me, it meant deadlines -- incentive to do the work I wanted to do and chance to work in a lot of different media. I still just work in an office like I always have, but the program made me want to look for more deadlines and more reasons to do real work.

OA: You are probably most widely known for your audio shorts that have been broadcasted over Chicago Public Radio. Does writing with the intent to record a piece audibly change the way you might write a piece? Are you more conscious of the way words might sound as opposed to how they are read on the page?
JS: I'm always conscious of the way my writing sounds out loud, and to me that is pretty much the same thing as being concerned with how my work is read on the page. Whether I end up recording something really has no bearing on my actual writing process - all the extra work involved with recording comes in after the fact. I do like to record, because it gives me total control over timing and tone, but really, if I've done a decent job with my text it hopefully translates just as well flat on the page.

OA: You and your husband run Stray Dog Recording Co., a place for independent musicians to find affordable recording space. How did you first get into this business? This seems like a vital service for Chicago musicians. What are your thoughts on the state of independent music in Chicago?
JS: Stray Dog Recording Co. is an extension of Dave's own project studio, which he set up for recording his own music after he graduated with a degree in audio engineering. I hope it's a service - we really try to run it that way. It is designed to help independent musicians on a budget. We welcome artists of all styles and genres. Basically anyone who is nice is welcome to record here.

People who want to record what they do, music or otherwise, have access to a lot of options that they didn't have even several years ago. It's an exciting time when anyone with a computer and a microphone can make excellent recordings, and even though running the studio is Dave's full-time job, we think that's great. As far as the independent music scene in Chicago goes, I don't have a ton of personal experience with it, but judging by what we hear from clients, it seems to be somewhat limited occasionally by a lack of open- and artistic-minded venues and the monopoly by certain people of the "alternative scene."

OA: What are your thoughts on "new media" (i.e. blogs, on-line zines, myspace) as it relates to the promotion and publication of literature and music?
JS: Myspace is a great vehicle for people, and particularly musicians, to communicate in ways that they never could have before. But, while I really hated to lose the advertising and networking benefits, we deleted the SDRC page when Myspace was bought by Rupert Murdoch and News Corp, the company that runs Fox News. This guy is arguably one of the biggest douche bags on the planet. He is politically at the extreme right, and his money contributes to the corporate takeover of the news and the reality that we are increasingly getting information through an evangelical lens.

I've certainly got no lofty notions about publishing through online zines and blogs. I think it's fucking great. The more gatekeepers, the more the gates. It makes it possible for more artists to reach an audience, to garner feedback, and connect with other artists. For me it means the possibility of readers, deadlines, and more reasons to finish work.

OA: What's next for Jill Summers?
JS: My first play, In the Curious Hold of the Demeter, just got a Henson Grant to be produced by The Incurable Theater this October at the Chicago Cultural Center. Tangentially based on F. W. Murnau's 1922 silent film Nosferatu, it basically chronicles the sea voyage of Count Orlock, stowed away in the cargo hold on the way to Bremen with a mad crazy case of insomnia. I'll be working with Incurable a lot over the next few months on staging and logistics and plans for getting people to come see the show.

Coming up soon, I've got a readings with the2ndhand at Quimby's on March 8; Spencer Dew's book release on April 4; and RAGAD on April 26. I'll be debuting some new music I'm working on for filmmaker Chris Hefner at the Sound of Silent Film Festival on March 26.

Other than that, I hope people will keep asking me to come read at their readings and that other people will publish things I humbly send them.

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JS: Yes. I am so addicted to the Dunk, that not only will I refer to it unashamedly as "the Dunk" in print, but I will even admit to a once daily toasted almond with cream habit. And yes, I realize that not getting it black makes me an asshole and that Dunkin Donuts is the least cool place in the universe to get your coffee.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy listening to, and who are a few of your favorites?
JS: I don't really listen to music on a regular basis, and I pretty much depend on periodic gifted mix cds for anything current. Lately I've become momentarily obsessed and alternately sick and disgusted with the Decemberists and Joanna Newsom. I think Neutral Milk Hotel is pretty great. The last cd I actually bought was probably Teenager of the Year. I will always love the Thinking Fellers, Stuff Smith, and the ever-ubiquitous Stag Thurman & the Celebration.

To hear Jill's audio pieces go here, here, or here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Artist of the Week

Jason Karolak

It's a swirl of color that begins in the blackness and gradually expands into a spinning mass of color. A mass that is compelling in its depth and roughness, but still refined and elegant. As the colors build and grow the shades of these colors evolve and brighten, and in turn the overall emotions of the piece also begin to change. This is the work of Chicago resident Jason Karolak.

Jason is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is currently an instructor at the school. On the surface his work appears both colorful and free, but after exploring his sketches and learning of the detail and care that goes into each, my view has changed. I now look at his pieces with the word balance on my tongue. Balance in both color and control. Jason's work draws the viewer in, conveys emotion, and rarely lets go.

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

Orange Alert (OA): There seems to be a large amount of fantastic artists coming through the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and staying in Chicago. What were you able to take away from your time as a student at SAIC, and why did you decide to stay in Chicago?
Jason Karolak (JK): I believe I got better in touch with myself and therefore better in touch with my painting practice. When you are grounded in your work in a direct manner you can access it more rapidly and more regularly. Also, there is a real conversation at SAIC about the ins and outs of painting. Grad students are expected to "bring the goods" formally and materially, without excess focus on a constructed conceptual program, gimmicks, or irony. As far as staying in Chicago, I am working one year at a time. I have been fortunate to be able to have a nice studio, teach college-level courses, and show my work, without excessive overhead bogging me down. At the end of the day, being productive in the studio and making work that I am excited about--these are the most important things.

OA: A common theme in your larger work is that of the funnel shape or possibly the funnel cloud. When did this fascination begin, and what might it signify in your work?
JK: All of the paintings are built up from the bottom of the picture plane. The image emerges out the process of making the painting. For me the form that I create and the process are the same thing. I want the viewer to be able to access the history and evolution of the painting. Often when I start a painting I lack confidence or do not really know what I am doing. As I become more clear, the painting takes a form and a direction and this manifests in bolder marks and richer color. It is a little bit of a battle, an event for me. In the end, if the painting is successful, then I feel really happy. I make paintings to be happy.

OA: All of the pieces that I have seen of yours have remained untitled. Why have decided not to title your pieces? Do you feel titles may lead the audience in specific direction as opposed to leaving a piece open for interpretations?
JK: Sometimes I title the small paintings, but most pieces are Untitled. I do not want to shut things down for the viewer (or for myself). I want the work to set off reactions, be expansive. Sometimes titles can make paintings feel too illustrative. I want the paintings to be experienced in multiple way--through the eyes, the body, the emotions. Can we hear color?

OA: Do you have a specific color palette that you tend to work with, or are reoccurring colors like oranges and yellows simple coincidence? Do you ever consider the specific emotions that color or color combination might evoke in the viewer of a piece?
JK: I guess you are on to me here. Color is really provocative for me. It carries a lot of meaning and a lot of "sub-verbal" suggestion. It is both formal and emotional for me, I do not separate the two. Also, I am building light in the paintings, so there are often appearances of yellows and oranges, two lighter-valued hues.

OA: I read that you occasionally us a quill pen for your small drawings. What does that antique tool bring to your drawings? Do you use these drawings to inform your larger pieces?
JK: The drawings help me expand and refine my vocabulary of forms. I make a lot of small and brief drawings. Things get repeated, changed, sometimes thrown out. Accumulation and adjustment bring clarity and connection. I like using a quill pen because it offers me a slower line--you cannot draw quickly with a wide quill pen. I want to feel the lines and the forms as they go down, not too fast, not too slow. Also, I want a balance between crudeness and elegance.

OA: What's next for Jason Karolak?
JK: I am currently preparing for a solo exhibition of new paintings at Massimo Audiello Gallery in New York in November 2008. I will probably have a couple of paintings in the Next Fair with Rowland Contemporary Gallery in Chicago in April 2008 as well.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JK: I only drink tea. I make black tea with milk and sugar at home in the morning. Sometimes I stop into Alliance Bakery on Division because they have really great pastries as well.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? What type of music do you enjoy while painting and in general?
JK: Lately I have been listening to a lot of music while working in my studio, but I often paint without noise. If I cannot connect emotionally to the music on then it will just interfere with the work. Also, I like to listen to rhythmic music while painting, music that progresses and is soulful. Lately I cannot stop listening to Son House--the music is organic, structured, and generative.

For more information on Jason Karolak please visit his website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

The LK Vs. The Snow (The Kora Records, March 4th)

"Where did all the love go?/I don't know why my friends always call me romeo."

It's a robotic dance with partner that was not your first choice, but now looks slightly less unappealing in the candle lit club. You dance and twirl with smiles and confusions, until you bump into the wrong guy and receive a punch to your round jaw. It's odd happiness that precedes danger and excitement.

Malmo, Sweden's The LK (The Love of Kevin, Colour, Chaos, and the Sound of K) is the collaboration between Lindefelt, abstract sound artist and vocalist, and Fredrik, melodies and chords. What immediately jumps out at the listener of Vs. The Snow is the pleasant pop tunes and bouncy dance tracks. However, when you listen a little closer you start to discover the complexity of the electronic soundscapes that these pop tunes are built upon. These 11 tracks shine with fuzzy bells and beeps, jaunty keyboards, and beats galore. Lindefelt guarantees that there is not a dull second sonically, and has penned some of the more surprisingly clever and humorous lyrics in pop music today. You think you are listen to a certain type music, but then the compulsive electronics and the abstract lyrics to hold and you really don't mind at all.

Vs. the Snow (preorder)
Anorak and other complicated Words Beginning With An A/Eurovision/Tamagotchi Freestyle/Down By Law/Stop Being Perfect/Private Life of a Cat (mp3)Tandem Bikes/ Transistor Tropics/The Love of Little Things/Blakboy Vs. The Snow/Yellow Ribbons

Zachary German Eat When You Feel Sad

"He goes to a grocery store and looks for a small bag of organic corn chips for one dollar and eighty nine cents or less but only sees large bags of organic corn chips for three dollars and sixty nine cents."

Robert is a very sad young man, he feels unloved and quite unaffectionate, and when he is at his darkest and lowest he searches for organic foods and low prices. I'm not sure where Robert lives, but I have always had much success with Trader Joe's. So what adventures might a health conscious, depressed young man go on in a 23-chapter novella you ask. Well he never gets too adventurous and he is usually very sleepy, but I suppose Rice drink will do that to you. I also suggest that Robert switch to Soymilk for the calcium and protein. This might give him more energy, and prevent shedding tears in the bedroom after applying exfoliant and listening to Broken Social Scene. Essentially, Robert either needs serious help or marijuana, I can't decide and neither can he.

Seriously, Zachary German is a writer who belongs to what appears to be a growing school of thought. There are a number of writer's who have taken the old saying "write what you know" to a new level. Much like the work of Tao Lin and Noah Cicero, Zachary writes of boredom and indifference because that is what he knows. That is what many twentysomething Americans know, but while other use writing as an escape, these writers choose to record the mundane. It is not about good or bad, it is not about emotion or passion, it simple just is. Now go buy an organic fruit roll and get some sleep.

New Release Tuesday

Bon Iver

American Music Club - The Golden Age
Akrobatik - Absolute Value
Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago Listen to: Skinny Love (mp3)
Cryptacize - Dig That Treasure
The Epochs - The Epochs Listen to: Opposite Side (mp3)
Growing - Lateral
Headlights - Some Racing, Some Stopping Listen to: Cherry Tulips (mp3)
Megafaun - Bury The Square Listen to: Lazy Suicide (mp3)
Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious
Morcheeba - Dive Deep
No Kids - Come To My House Listen to: The Beaches All Closed (mp3)
The Ravonettes - Lust Lust Lust Listen to: Aly, Walk With Me (mp3)
Throw Me The Statue - Moonbeams Listen to: About to Walk (mp3)
The Big Sleep - Son Of The Tiger Listen to: Pinkies (mp3) (stream)
Panther - 14k God Listen to: Puerto Rican Jukebox (mp3)

30 Days of Night
American Gangster (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
In the Valley of Elah
Michael Clayton
Kurt Cobain About a Son

Monday, February 18, 2008

Monday Morning Mix

Inspired by both this painting from Dolan Geiman and last week's story from Adam Moorad, "Midnight Rodeo" features music from Megafaun, Capgun Coup, Death to Anders, Bon Iver, Candle, El Perro Del Mar, and more... Enjoy "Midnight Rodeo" (zip/tracklist)

Artwork: "Midnight Rodeo" by Dolan Geiman

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

"PWRFL Power's Kazutaka Nomura doesn't especially care for pop conventions", and that attitude usually leads to interesting and challenging music. However, Kaz has managed to create an album that is artistically appealing and lyrically challenging, but essentially folk music. Born to an architect and a calligrapher in Hokkaido, Japan in 1984, Kaz began studying Classical and Jazz guitar at the age of 13--moving to Seattle at 18 to study musical composition. His guitar playing is a unique blend of folk and classical and quite pleasing. Just remember... "It's okay to be yourself!"

Listen to: It's Okay (mp3) and Alma Song (mp3)

Minnesota strikes again! Batteries play rock music with a nod to the a few legends. It is really a nice formula... one part fuzzy horn of Morphine, one part bouncy organ of The Doors, and equal parts hushed "Velvet" vocals and workmen like guitars. It is a powerful cocktail on a frosty mid-western morning. Their debut album, That Great Grandsuck of the Sea, was self-released is not easy to find, but it is worth tracking down.

Listen to: Childproof (mp3)

Chicago blues by way of Cologne, Germany. T-Man and Mighty Mike have the sound down as they make their Voodoo Rhythm debut with BOOGIE THE HOUSE DOWN - JUKE JOINT STYLE.

Listen to: Seasons Love (mp3)

Formed in 2001, this beat oriented group combine fantasy, art, and "urban grit" to create dance music like no other. Based in Minnesota (yes, you heard me right), Solid Gold has yet to release a full-length album. With an aggressive touring schedule and high expectations the debut (Bodies Of Water) has been a long time coming, but is planned for this summer. On February 26th, this trio will release an Ep entitled, Who You Gonna Run To?, featuring three new song and three remixes.

Listen to: Bible Thumper (mp3)

I understand that is hard to settle on a great band name. You want it to be memorable, you want it to roll off of the tongues of the masses, but F$@# Buttons seriously? Conceived by Andrew Hung & Benjamin John Power in 2004, F$@# Buttons was initially born as an outlet for their nihilistic-noise tendencies but they quickly realized they could harness the use of noise as a tool to immerse and evoke. No longer afraid of melody or rhythm, the group started fusing all these elements to the point when drone becomes melody becomes rhythm. Their latest album, STREET HORRRSING, will be released on March 18th.

Listen to: Bright Tomorrow (mp3) *link*

The highly debated Radiohead remix album, Rainydayz Remixes, from producer Amplive is finally going to be released. While the Oakland producer/DJ acknowledges that he probably should have contacted Radiohead (who were not involved in the project) to seek approval prior to making his interpretations publicly available, an agreement has been reached between all involved parties and Amplive has been granted permission to release Rainydayz Remixes for free to the general public. And guess what -- it's available now.

Listen to: Videotape (Remix Ft. Del The Funky Homosapien) (mp3)

The Peel Back: Portishead Dummy (1994, Polygram Records)
I don't have to tell you that this album was groundbreaking. The mesh of styles on Dummy, that later became unfortunately labeled "trip-hop", had never been done before. Sure Massive Attack had certain elements, but the raw hip-hop elements mixed gracefully with electronic beats were simply genius. On top of that blend to add the hauntingly beautiful voice of Beth Gibbons, it was almost too perfect to repeated. In fact, the main story surrounding this legendary duo is the lack of productivity. We have waited 10 years for the third album to be released, and they say 2008 will be the year. As we wait, let’s take a look back at the shocking sounds of Dummy.

Mysterons/Sour Times (mp3)/Strangers/It Could Be Sweet/Wandering Star/It's a Fire/Numb (mp3)/Roads/Pedestal/Biscuit/Glory Box