Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Watch List

1. The Sweet Serenades: Martin Nordvall sent me a nice e-mail and am glad he did it. Sweden is home to some great music! Listen to: I Can Never Die (mp3)
2. thehelpmeplease: More Swedish treats from one of my favorite labels Series Two Records! thehelpmeplease is Jonas Johnsson, he lives in gothenburg, sweden and studies graphic design. if he could, he would much rather sit in a park or a pub, drinking cheap wine, smoke a couple of cigarettes and maybe pet some bumblebees. Listen to: Louise Dyer (mp3)
3. Jukebox the Ghost: Good clean indie-pop from Washington D.C., JTG just released their latest album Let Live and Let Ghost last month on This Side Up Sounds/The Rebel Group. If you were looking for the album of the summer this may be it! Listen to: Good Day (mp3) (Download the Andrew Murray Remix on their myspace page)

1. The June Issue of decomP is live! I enjoyed it all but especially."I think of her this time of year" by Justin Hyde.
2. "Rent Chair (A Monologue and Photo)" by Christopher Woods: The latest from TZWCYL is story of loss, change, and a community chair.
3. "The Five Stages of Beef" by Peter Parrish: Have ever tried to reason with a cow?
4. Unquiet Desperation June/July Issue: I download this to read "Echoes Partial" by F.D. Marcel, but this pdf journal is packed full of great lit!
5. "The Canadians" by Gabe Durham: This is from the just released Noo Journal Issue #8. There is also a great story by Noah Cicero.
6. "Einstein's Daughter" by Sam Woodworth: "Let's act fancier than we are.", what a statement.
7. "The Trouble With Vertigo" by Josh Honn: This is Josh's 2nd piece to appear in 2nd hand. His idea of normal is not normal.

1. Coffee by Time Travel Opportunists: Five story written by the TTO crew. This chap comes with a CD, coffee bean, and badge. 3 euros
2. Paul Simon by Chris Killen: There were only 50 printed, and they were handed out for free. Review here and here.
3. 2008 Nissan Versa: I actually got a new car this week, it is very nice!
4. Formula Werks "Secret Stach": This is you last chance to pre-order new gear from Joey Potts, Brian Morris, Food One, and more!

1. Qunst.mag "Plants & Flowers": Great zine!
2. MP3 Goodies: Marlena Shaw "California Soul" (Diplo Remix) (mp3) from Verve Remixed 4, A Night in the Box "Write A Letter" (mp3), and Parenthetical Girls "Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)" (mp3)

1. Tickly Feather " Fancy Walking"
2. Langhorne Slim "Rebel Side of Heaven"
3. Pilcrow was great! I finally got to meet several writers who I had interviewed and many more who I would love to interview. This was the first panel of the day, and it is on blogging.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Band of the Week

Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo


I have heard it said that everyone has a song to sing, but I tend to translate that in a looser sense. Everyone has something that they were meant to share. Something that sets them apart, something that moves them toward greatness. It could be in song or art, it could be in writing or storytelling, it could be in any talent that you possess. The process of using your talent, recording your album, painting your pictures, that is life at it’s fullest.

Todd Goldstein is in a successful band called The Harlem Shakes, and for most that would be enough. Not for Todd, he has a separate song to sing and personal story to tell. Over the last few years Todd has been recording and revising the collection of songs that will appear on his full-length debut, Kids Aflame, when it is released via Melodic Records on June 30th. His songs range from a melodic croon over ukulele to rock filled youth anthems. He sings of youth and the moment when boredom meet reality, and life is rumored to begin. After working on the album for so long and recording much of it himself, he is relieved to have it out there and excited to share it with the world.

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

Orange Alert (OA): Arms is a tough name to google, where did that come from?
Todd Goldstein (TG): Oh man, I didn't even think of that when I came up with it! Well, you know what they say about band names -- it doesn't need to be something you like, just something you're willing to live with. I went through a couple of cheesy potential names for my solo project ('box factory' was one and I’m not even kidding. it's a Simpson’s reference.) back when it was naming-time. and then in my internet travels I came upon a British rapper called 'ears.' I thought 'hmmm, plural body part, that's kind of cool. legs? hands? arms? sure, why not.' it's got a slightly emo double entendre in it that I’m not so hot on, but as long as it only relates to the body part itself, I can live with 'arms'.

OA: Your debut full-length, Kids Aflame, seems like it was a labor of love. Is it freeing to finally have it released? What are your thoughts on the process in general?
TG: It's amazing to have it released - I feel like I can finally move on to other things. I spent three years on this album in some form or another -- recording, re-recording, mixing, mixing again, mixing a third time -- basically learning how to work the recording software as I went. I used one mic, and had friends play any instruments that I didn't know how to play myself. Looking back on it, I did it exactly how it needed to be done -- the album is a snapshot of a few very important years in my life, and now that it's done I can finally start making a different kind of music. The new material I’ve been working on is very different, as is my life now. Makes sense, in a way.

OA: You have been interviewed for a couple of different blogs now, what are your thoughts on the effectiveness of new media as it relates to promoting musicians?
TG: is it even 'new' media any more? I feel like blogs are just an accepted part of the machine at this point. Either way, blogs are how I initially got heard a few years back -- Connor at 'I guess I’m floating' was instrumental in this -- and they've been the primary instrument in arms' achingly slow ascent into kind-of-sort-of-quasi-notoriety. so I’d guess my thoughts on them would be "fuck yeah, blogs."

OA: With lyrics about turning into stairs and kids bursting into flames they could be considered literary. You are also a copy editor and have had thoughts of being a teacher. Are there literary aspirations in your future?
TG: I’m actually incredibly uncomfortable writing fiction. My songs are the only way I’m comfortable doing 'creative' writing. I’ve been a music writer/critic for a long time as well, though -- less these days. Basically, I’m only comfortable writing terrifying fictional scenarios about fucked up shit encased in pop songs, and totally useless, jargon-filled music criticism. I’m an incredibly nice and well adjusted in person, I promise.

OA: How is the new Harlem Shake album coming along?
TG: The Shakes record is shaping up better than any of us ever thought it would, actually. We're almost done with the tracking, planning on doing the mixing in August. It's going to be something really special, i hope -- the sort of album that "no one saw coming"... ideally.

OA: Is there anything upcoming for Sea & The Gull?
TG: The Sea & the Gulls was a moment when Leah Beeferman (who did the art for the Arms record, actually) and I both had too much time on our hands, were both pretty confused/angsty, and escaped into weekly meet-ups in which we'd write and record songs about 'things that fly' in about an hour. The resulting album seems almost magical, too me -- I barely feel like I had a hand in it, it just sort of happened. Leah's at grad school in VA now, and I miss her a ton. We still get emails about the music we made though, which is really special.

OA: What's next for Arms?
TG: A couple of shows in New York. A real band, hopefully. Some kind of European tour in the fall. More blog interviews?

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
TG: 3 cups a day, 4 if I’m feeling insane. Gorilla coffee in Brooklyn is the best coffee I’ve ever had in the entire universe.

OA: What was the last great book you read?
TG: I just finished Don Delillo's 900-page monstrosity 'underworld', which was so engrossing, well-crafted and moving that, when I got halfway through at page 450, I already started getting sad that it would be over soon. (For me, 'soon' = like two months)

Listen to: Whirring (mp3)

For more information on Arms visit his website or check out his myspace page.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 23rd, 2008 - Whitney Muesum - New York, NY - Lucky Dragons
Photo essay by Dominick Mastrangelo

Upcoming Shows:
6/01 Los Angeles, CA The Smell
6/07 New York, NY East River Music Project

Listen to: Morning Ritual (mp3)

For more concert photos from Dominick Mastrangelo please visit his flickr page.

Reader Meet Author

Christopher Fritton

"All human speech is finite in such a way that there is within it an infinity of meaning." from Gadamer’s Mirror

The concept of fluxus is one held in very high regard at Orange Alert. At its basic level, fluxus is the combination of art techniques into one dynamic form. At its highest level, it could be used to describe art made from text or music that allows outside influences to appear or the blending of forms and mediums. Last week we featured Rachel E. Foster, who I would consider to fall into the fluxus category. This week we bring you the work of Christopher Fritton.

I would say that New York native Christopher Fritton pushes the limits of poetry, but how do you really define poetry? In his new chapbook from sunnyoutside he writes in what could be considered a traditional manner, but on other occasions he might use glass and stamps or needles and water colors to capture his thoughts and emotions. One of my favorite pieces by Christopher is "The String Manual". It is a manual for sewing oneself inside of oneself. In addition, every year he release a hand made package of goodies (or junk) called Ferrum Wheel. "Ferrum wheel is craftonics, the raw voice of lost and found boxes, poetic parody, the ligaments between art and trash, most, it is a paper mache bust of william blake." The bottom line is I enjoy the work the Christopher Fritton because he is consistently inventing new ways to express himself in literary way. In ways that have never been fully expolred.

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

Orange Alert (OA): What can you tell us about your new chapbook from Sunnyoutside, My Fingernails are Fresnel Lenses?
Christopher Fritton (CF): My Fingernails Are Fresnel Lenses is a 4" x 4" book that contains a single poem in 9 stanzas on 9 pages. It is entirely hand-set, hand-letterpressed, and hand-sewn. Dave McNamara and I worked on it as a special project for Sunnyoutside Books. I've touched every page of every book, and Dave has touched every letter on every page. It has the feeling of an antique pocket-sized scientific pamphlet, treatise on epistemology, or book of bad love poems. It's all three.

OA: A fair amount of your work would fall into the category of visual poetry. Is there a distinction in your mind between visual poetry, concrete poetry, and installation art?
CF: Concrete poetry is always visual poetry, but visual poetry is not always concrete poetry. I enjoy the malleability of visual poetry - it's plasticity has really been exploited (in a good way) since the arrival of more capable software. That's not to say that a fair amount of visual poetry isn't still made by hand via collage, painting, etching, etc - but the advent of new manipulative techniques informs our handmaking as well. I prefer to handmake visual poetry pieces simply because I prefer to handmake everything, not because I dislike computer-aided work. Currently I'm working on a series of glass etchings. Back to the topic: Concrete poetry can leave me feeling flat. Once you've got it, you've got it. What still intrigues me in concrete poetry is the element of the handmade, the technique; if someone does something really intense on a typewriter or with rubber stamping, even with screenprinting, I appreciate the immense amount of repetition and registration that it took to realize the project. Installation art can be/contain either/both, but by its very nature is the least restrictive of the three. From massive earth moving projects like those of Robert Smithson to the smallest minimalist sculptures, installation has the capability to traverse a sizable aesthetic spectrum. I like to think that my future work, as it grows in scale, will integrate visual poetry and installation, possibly even concrete poetry as a way to revive the form in my own mind.

OA: The term Fluxus was created a little over 40 years ago to represent to combine of arts into one presented form. How has the idea of Fluxus changed since that time? Has technology played a role in this change?
CF: I'm not sure the idea of FLUXUS has changed. It's so categorically dynamic that it's capable of subsuming almost any new work that comes along. It's not that the idea of FLUXUS is meaninglessly broad, but it may be easier to talk about what works aren't FLUXUS, rather than what works are; a painting probably isn't FLUXUS, but painting it is, etc. Technology has affected FLUXUS work just a much as it's affected many other genres of art - by providing myriad ways to expand our notions of chance and change, replication and deconstruction, connectivity and temporality, many of which are at the very heart of FLUXUS. The internet itself, in all its bedlamic glory, may be the greatest collaborative FLUXUS work in the history of the world.

OA: Your Ferrum Wheel projects were all incredible. Will there be anything released in 2008 as part of Ferrum Wheel?
CF: First, thanks. Ferrum Wheel is something near and dear to me, a project I started with my close friend Ric Royer in 2000. And for those who don't know, Ferrum Wheel is an assembling (made in an edition of 50) - a collection of 50 one of a kind works from 10-12 different artists collected in 50 different vessels. Each one contains one work by each artist along with countless bits of found material, poetry, art, etc. If you want to check out pics of some of the back issues, hit up In 2008, I'll be releasing Ferrum Wheel 7, and I'm currently working on Ferrum Wheel 6.5 - a special mail-only version made in an edition of 25.

OA: In your various bio's you reference the Performance Thanatology Research Society. Does this society research the death of performance? What is your role as the head of The Institute for the Advancement of Higher Histrionics?
CF: The Performance Thanatology Research Society doesn't research the death of performance, rather the performance of death. The performance we're all performing right now. The absolute insanity of it all. It was founded by Ric Royer, who now lives and carries on his liveness studies in the city of Baltimore. At around the same time Ric's work was culminating in the PTRS, I was seeing my own performance work come together in a series of histrionic, hysterical gestures. The Institute for the Advancement of Higher Histrionics was a call to use these gestures to break through, discover something new about living. It and the PTRS go hand in hand carrying on the tradition started by Bern Porter (who created the Institute for Advanced Thinking) - finding new ways to consider the crisis of being human and doing human things.

OA: What's next for Christopher Fritton?
CF: I just quit my job as a boat captain, so hopefully something that generates a little money. Starting a small press that does short runs as gifts to close friends, turning my garage into a studio to do larger scale work, working on new books. All of that sounds terribly lucrative, doesn't it?

Bonus questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
CF: Never, ever real coffee. Only decaf. I'm too high strung as it is, a single cup of coffee makes me vibrate. Favorite is a decaf caramel macchiato here at Spot Coffee in Buffalo.

OA: Do you listen to while creating? Do you ever incorporate music into your work? Who are some of your favorites currently?
CF: I listen to music constantly; it's one of the most important things in my life. Sometimes I think it's more important than writing and art. I often incorporate lines from songs into my poems, then rework them and rework them. Lately I've been listening to the new Breeders album, Herman Dune, lots of old punk rock as always, Blood on the Wall, The Blow, Panda Bear, too much to name.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Artist of the Week

Julie Speed

I've heard inspiration described in many different ways over the years, but most have seemed forced or manufactured. Which, by its very nature, goes against the very concept of inspiration. I've often questioned where inspiration comes from, and how one know that they have been inspired. Do you realize it immediately or does it take reflection to understand? Chicago native and Texas resident Julie Speed has an interesting point of view on art and inspiration. The way she describes her work reminds me of a lock. As you slowly turn the tumblers of the lock, and the numbers begin to align, you hear a click as each falls into place. As Julie creates she hears a series of clicks, but I will let her describe the sensation.

Julie Speed is a self-taught artist who has been exhibiting her work since the mid-eighties. Her latest work focuses the complex struggle of man vs. nature and the various angles and directions in which to focus our attention. The consist shift in perception and the dark nature of her work is what draws the view in. The hidden imagery is what keeps them looking for hours.

Recently, Julie was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Julie Speed (JS): I think that there is some kind of underlying math to the universe which is what sets off that little “click” in your head when you know you’ve hit a correct juxtaposition of color, line, form volume etc. So, in the long run, that’s what I’m aiming for…..feeling the pleasure of that “click” when you’ve hit the exactly perfect curve of one line resisting another – of hearing the click echoes when you catch the correct shape and heft of one color or line balanced against another etc… and it’s not found just in “Art”. You get the same visual sensual pleasure out of everyday tasks like cooking and gardening or even just lying around arranging sticks and rocks in the grass. There’s a lot of ways to get there. I used to start with a basic representational image in my head, sketch it out compositionally and start painting. Collage just naturally flows one piece to another. After experimenting with a series of abstract and semi-abstract collages I started seeing the images more as geometric shapes so lately I’ve been starting with a completely abstract drawing which evolves into a figurative painting (to which the viewer often attaches a story) so maybe we could label it “abstract-based realism” or “found narrative pararealism”. There are lots of labels to make up but I think the “isms” of art are probably more confusing than enlightening.

OA: What was it about the work of Francis Bacon that you found so inspirational?
JS: The fact that the work can be experienced on so many levels. First, it punches you in the gut, a visceral reaction. You get a funny feeling in your stomach when you spend time with it. (I get the same exact feeling looking at the totally abstract “Suprematist” work of Kasimir Malevich.) Then you go back to it and admire Bacon’s total mastery of his craft, the brushwork, color and composition. Then you can think about what story it tells. As a person I admire the fact that he didn’t run with the herd. In a time when all the art world was striving towards “cool”, he was totally not cool, not Pop, and not in it for fame or money. He knew what he needed to paint and went ahead and did it.

OA: I am fascinated by your Bible Studies Series. Can you talk a little about that series and the thought behind it? Did you discover anything about yourself or the bible during this process?
JS: Bible Studies series started with an1877 Gustav Dore Swedish bible with hundreds of illustrations that was destroyed in the 1993 Galveston, Texas flood, which washed out a friend’s bookstore. I bought it as scrap paper about 10 years ago and have been using it for collage ever since. In 2005, because of new technology in intaglio printmaking I’ve been able to incorporate collage into that work. This is really exciting for me and I’ve only just scratched the surface of what I want to learn.

I also learned things I didn’t know before about the Bible. For the collage elements of Women's Studies I glued together Bible illustrations depicting various women getting stoned (lots of that – women having caused all the bad behavior of their boyfriends) or the dogs tearing apart Jezebel's body ( she wasn’t so bad – her husband was clinically depressed and she was just trying to get him out of bed)...and in the text of “Women's Studies(Accounting)” (one of the re-fried etching/ collages) the text from Leviticus where it lays out how much women are worth - like if you kill one, what you have to pay her owner/husband/father vs. what you have to pay for a man you’ve injured... 50 shekels for a man and 30 for a woman. Of course it goes down if she's older. Leviticus is also where you find the words often cited by those people who think it’s not okay to be gay as evidence that God thinks so too. If that’s true then it's really bad news for children, who, according to Leviticus are worth even less than women. It also says that if you have a “skewed eye” or a broken arm or leg or "ye that hath ye stones broken" you can't come “nigh unto the Lord” either. Bad news for skiers and the wall-eyed.

The figures in "Ad Referendum" I glued together from over a dozen different Biblical sources and I can't remember them all - just a lot of book burnings, atrotcities and stonings all to do with holy wars of one sort or another.

The most fascinating thing I found was, because I was using and reading several different old bibles as text sources I noticed that in many places the translations were completely different from one bible to another. What was pure poetry in one translation was just ranting in another.

OA: Besides painting you also work with media boxes. Where do you find the material for these boxes? Is there a significance to working with antique paper and text? Does it add an instant history to a new piece?
JS: I’ve been collecting collage bits for years. Everywhere. Train tracks, flea markets, junk stores, yard sales, and the side of the road. I walk with my eyes down. Often used book dealers will sell me their leftovers, the books that are in pieces and/or too fire, child or flood damaged to put back together again. I like the mold and the stains. Quite often I incorporate it, then seal the work so it can’t spread.

The significance of the found paper is only that each scrap is unique in feel, smell and the quality of the paper. Paper before 1900 is generally better paper (though there are exceptions). I approach collage like a giant jig-saw puzzle, laying out dozens of boxes stuffed with thousands of pieces of paper, wood, metal etc. and I start playing. To make the game interesting I deny myself use of the scanner and computer. It keeps me from repeating myself with something easy but most of all, I like the feel, the texture and smell of the old paper. You can copy the image but never the feel and the smell.

OA: I read that you are working on a new book to be released in the fall of 2009. Is there a direction that that book might take? Have you begun to work on it?
JS: Oh yes, I’ve been working on it for 5 years. It starts where the last one left off. This one will be the work from 2003-2008.

OA: What's next for Julie Speed?
JS: I think it’s a lifetime quest looking for the “clicks”.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
JS: Yes coffee. Really hot or really cold.

OA: Do you listen to music while you paint? Who are a few of your favorites?
JS: Bob Schneider, Terry Allen, Shawn Colvin

For more information on Julie Speed please visit her website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 23rd, 2008 - The House Cafe - Dekalb, IL - Yea Big & Kid Static w/Frequency En Mass, Egon's Unicat , Son Of Starkiller
Images by Chris Szostek

Arriving at the House Café in Dekalb about 20 minutes late, I expected to hear the sounds bass and maybe a few scratches pumping through the streets as I approached the building. I knew there were four acts on the bill, and with the headliner being my favorite hip hop duo since Nice n’ Smooth, Yea Big & Kid Static, I was looking forward to a night of hip hop. Instead I was greeted by the sounds of guitars and screams of Frequency En Mass. Ignoring the comparisons to Minor Threat I tried to stay hyped the beats that would soon follow.

Off to the right, just past the merch tables, there is a tiny studio set-up (stripped sheet held by duct tape, small wooden easel, and a table filled with paints). The artist painting to the music is local artist Hannah Dwyer, and her gallery show was to be held at The House on the 25th. She was painting on cardboard, and could not have been nicer. The sad bunny on the flyer for her art show reminded of Luke Church, but the pieces she created through out the night were beautiful and diverse.

Egon’s Unicat announced that they were a rock band before launch into an extremely entertaining set. Lead pipes, table jumping, flag waving, non-stop dancing, the screaming splits, lead singer Sean Patrick had it all. I have no doubt he will be a major rockstar in the near future. I said “Panic At the Disco?” and my friends said “Mindless Self Indulgence”.

As Son of Starkiller started to set-up a table on the stage, and unload equipment I became to get excited. The last time I saw a table like on a stage was when I was standing right in front of DJ Craze while he tore it up last summer. Unfortunately, Starkiller did not have any records or turntable, but he had a laptop and synth. Most of the show, after pressing play on the laptop, he just moved his head up and down while the song played. Twice he ever stepped away to get a drink, the small audience was left to stare at an empty stage. Live electronica… what more do I need to say?

Finally, Yea Big (Stefen Robinson) and Kid Static (Moses Harris Jr.) take the stage. Actually, they stretch and warm-up first, and then Yea Big strips down to his running outfit. They blaze through an energetic set, running through the café screaming, jumping into the air, dance routines, they did it all. The only song for their self-titled debut they played was “The Life Here”, but the also played “Eatcho Sandwich”. The rest of the set was incredible, hard hitting, aggressive new material. The new album is going to be tight! They also performed the theme to The Golden Girls, and it was great! After the show, we talked to Stefen and he talked about how hard the tour was on his body. Hannah (the artist) then handed him a huge painting of sandwich. All was right again!

The Orange Spotlight

Jason Tandon Wee Hour Martyrdom (sunnyoutside, March 20th, 2008)

"I crawl back under the covers/Where my love is fast asleep./ Suddenly, she laughs-and does not wake/When I ask what is so funny/And press my finger/Into the hollow of her cheek." from "Interrogation"

When I read this title I got excited. A warrior of the night working into the early morning, and sacrificing sleep and sanity for art and charity. The writer pounding the keys while on the family couch at 2:00am, or the artist in the studio or basement splashing and staring for hours, or the musician jumping out of bed to compose the perfect song. However, Jason's book is not really about those martyrs at all. This is a book about everyday life, and how painful or pleasant it can be. He has the ability to observe situations and paint such vivid pictures no matter how small of meaningless the situation may be.

Wee Hour Martyrdom is Jason's third chapbook, and his second on sunnyoutside. With poems touching cemeteries, birthday parties, babies, movie theaters, neighbors and dancing, this collection reaches everyone, but at a different angle. The scenes may be a common occurrences in your life, but Jason is hunt down and record that tiny detail you may have overlooked. It is thrilling and slightly scary all at the same time.

These Modern Socks Picking a Lock at the Speed of Light (Self-Released, May 23, 2008)

I stand in front of my dresser looking for a pair of socks that matches. There is brown, blue, black or beige, but which is the most modern? Searching, I determine that I have no modern socks, but I do have a great new cd from Minnesota band who just happens to be called, These Modern Socks. If you couldn't tell from the cover, this album is the story love... intergalactic love that is. Yes it is a perfect pair, space travel and heartbreak.

So what does an intergalactic modern sock sound like? Well, they (or their PR people) said its synth-driven pop, and I agreed to a certain extent. On several songs the beat is very aggressive, and crunches along at a very unexpected and non-traditional pace. This album is more then just synth rock, it is adventurous instrumentation beneath smooth and thought-provoking vocals. Corey Palmer's voice is clearly the driving force of this band, however, the band builds layers of sound that heighten the romance and tell the story. On "Where I Came From" the entire band comes together to create a pop song the is sonically unique and challeging, but quite pleasing at the same time.
No One Gonna Miss Me/Dilemma/Worry Free Lifestyle/Picking a Lock at the Speed of Life (mp3)/Space bars/Escape Pod/Where I Cam From (mp3)/Wooden/To Nasa/On The Moon

New Release Tuesday

Hecuba - Sir Ep Listen to: Sir (mp3) (pictured above)
These Modern Socks - Picking A Lock At The Speed Of Light Listen to: Where I Came From (mp3)
The Hood Internet - The Hood Internet vs. Chicago
Steinski - What Does It All Mean? 1983-2006 Retrospective Listen to: The Payoff Mix (mp3)
Health - HEALTH//DISCO Listen to: Lost Time (Picture Plane Mix) (mp3)
The Herbaliser - Same as it Ever Was
I Love Math - Getting to the Point is Beside It Listen to: Josephing Street (mp3)
Midnight Juggernauts - Dystophia
James Pants - Welcome Listen to: Ka$h (mp3)


Monday, May 26, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 21st, 2008 - Bowery Ballroom, NY - Wild Sweet Orange
Review and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo

It's easy to think that Wild Sweet Orange have been around for a lot longer than they have. Ever since I heard "Ten Dead Dogs" nearly two years ago on KEXP, this Birmingham, AL band has floated around my various iTunes playlists and in my musical subconscious. With the full-length We Have Cause To Be Uneasy set for a July release and 2007's The Whale EP under their belts WSO are go for launch as it were.

And perhaps with an eye toward the future, Preston Lovinggood and Co. got the one song they are best know for, the aforementioned "Ten Dead Dogs," out of the way first. The sleepy rocker with Lovinggood's dripping delivery and dreamy guitars that occasionally begged and inched to a more rock sound only to be restrained, was every bit as good as it's sounded on the radio and mp3 player the past two years.

The guitars were then let loose for the rest of the concert with songs like "Wrestle With God" (mp3) launching a vicious Old 97's-like drum/guitar assault. Lovinggood grabbing the mic and leaning in a little singing "Sometimes at night on dark highways, I pull the car over and listen for trains" as drummer Chip Kilpatrick rapped a quick beat on the edge of his tom. The guitar work of Taylor Shaw was truly inspired and the bass playing from Garrett Kelly, his hair flopping around, was Hammond-esque.

Lovinggood thought it made sense to bring out opener David Ford to play harmonica on one song saying, "He's from the south of England... and we're from the south of this country."
The beautiful and epic "Land of No Return" and the equally affecting "I'm Coming Home" both built up slowly with drums layered on to guitars and Lovinggood repeating "And I know, I know, I know, I know I'm coming home" as the guitar mimicked his voice and the song pushed along to the end of the set.

Remaining Tour Dates:
May 27 City Hall Nashville, TN
May 28 Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA
May 30 Culture Room Ft. Lauderdale, FL
June 3 Meridien Houston, TX
June 4 Antone’s Austin, TX
June 5 House Of Blues Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
June 6 House Of Blues New Orleans, LA
June 7 Brickhouse Theater Phoenix, AZ
June 9 Troubador Los Angeles, CA
June 10 Troubador Los Angeles, CA
June 11 Troubador Los Angeles, CA
June 12 House Of Blues San Diego, CA
June 13 Fillmore Theatre San Francisco, CA
June 15 House Of Blues Anaheim, CA

For more images from this show and all of the shows covered by Dominick visit his flickr page.

Paint the Town Orange

May 22nd, 2008 - Bowery Ballroom, NY - Laura Veirs w/ Liam Finn
Images and review by Dominck Mastrangelo

Last Thursday was the fourth time I've seen Laura Veirs live. In four years she's gone from supporting singer-songwriters such as John Vanderslice to headlining venues like the Bowery Ballroom. On this particular Thursday and on this particular tour, Veirs was/is solo. Her backing band "The Saltbreakers" or "the bearded men" as Veirs referred to them were sitting this one out. A solo Veirs performance is so much different than one with her band. Gone are the accessorized suits and dresses and the full band treatment that give such shape to her lush and literate songs painted in aqua and sea-foam green.

A sparse set-up with just an acoustic guitar and a banjo, an appreciative Veirs proved that even solo she could layer and add depth to her songs. On the set opener "Pink Light" from last year's excellent Saltbreakers Veirs layered loops of guitar and vocals building the song up as she repeated the songs final line "In the fading of the constellations, I am growing strong" over the wall of sound. And if one were to shut their eyes, surely they would have thought at least two, maybe three, other folks were on stage with her.

Veirs posts best of tour lists on her site and the packed Bowery crowd made the list early for their enthusiastic applause following her songs. The crowd then proved worthy backup singers on "Rialto" without any coaxing from Veirs as she sang "Now they're standing on the beach. In a wild colored wind..." and the crowd responding "Standing on the beach" and "Wild colored wind" after the respective lines. It's one of those serendipitous moments where you know the crowd and the artist are feeding off each other.

Mixed in among the beautiful "Magnetized" and "Nightingale," Veirs also played a couple songs off her tour-only e.p., Two Beer Veirs - a cover of Elizabeth Cotten's "Freight Train" and "Spike Drive Blues" by Mississippi John Hurt.

The best moments, however, were the two most unexpected. Halfway through the set Veirs used her drum machine and the loop pedal to produce a not so subliminal message. "Let's see if you catch it," she said as she began chanting "O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma." As the crowd laughed and clapped she sang the praises of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee - "Isn't he handsome? Isn't he intelligent?" - over the loop.

And when she performs solo certain songs get left off the setlist. One of those is "Galaxies" from 2005's Year of Meteors. But for the encore Veirs brought out opener Liam Finn (who's drumming during his set was alarming in its ferociousness) and Eliza-Jane Barnes who accompanied Finn during his set. The version of Galaxies they produced was a stunning, in-your-face contrast to the fairly laid back set that had come before, yet was everything you could want in a crowd-pleasing encore and the perfect way to end the show.
For more images from this show and all the shows we have covered visit our flickr page.

Special Announcement

Orange Alert Press is proud to offically announce its first release, Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine by Ben Tanzer.

From the author of Lucky Man (Manx Media, 2007) comes a story of relationships and all of the unspoken confusions of life.

"In this follow up to "Lucky Man", Tanzer further demonstrates his remarkable skill in capturing the zeitgeist of micro-eras in recent decades, seemingly drawing on a combination of observation, memory and an intuitive understanding of situational layers in his storytelling." ~ Amy Guth (author of Three Fallen Women)


Geoff is awake, Jen’s left leg is thrown across him, her hair is across his pillow, her breath is lightly brushing against his ear, and he thinks that he should enjoy this, wallow in it, and hold on to it as best he can, because something will go wrong, something has to go wrong, it always does. Jen will decide that he’s not a good listener, or that he is emotionally distant, sloppy, or cheap. Maybe she won’t like his politics or his taste in music. Or maybe, he won’t say the right things or buy the right things. He will push too much or too little. He will forget an important date or insult her mother. He will get mad because she messed-up the laundry or forgot to set the alarm... Geoff wonders whether to say something to Jen about all this when she awakes, but can’t imagine where to start, he barely knows her. Instead, Geoff decides to roll with it as long as he can.


Jen lies there not asleep, but feigning unconsciousness, feeling Geoff’s heartbeat against her temple, adjusting herself to his chest as it rises and falls. This is good she thinks and she doesn’t remotely regret sleeping with him on the first date. She knows Gracie would be very unhappy with her, and not just because of the sex itself, though that wouldn’t make her happy, but the idea that she would give it up so soon.

What does Geoff have to work for now? Why would he want to stay long enough to get to know her, and appreciate her, and come to understand why they might have found a touch of magic while walking home the night before, a mere physiological reaction, that was as easy as anything else, requiring no work, but the right light, the right person, hopped-up emotions and just a touch of chemistry and light conversation? This can’t be good can it?

Most Likely the Playlist

Cover by Michael Paige Glover * Design & Layout by Szostek Design * 178 pages * ISBN: 0-9817481-0-4/978-0-9817481-0-8 * $14

Pub date: August 2008

Details on the release event to follow!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Watch List

1. Coconut Coolouts: Pizza loving Seattle party rockers play a hybrid Hawaiian party surf rock. Listen to: (Please Don't Break me out of) Party Jail (mp3)
2. Egon's Unicat - There music straight forward pshyco rock, but their lead singer, Sean Patrick, is a show stopper. Jumping on tables, swinging a lead pipe, doing the splits... insane!
3. Bakers at Dawn: Marcus Sjoland is a Swedish musician who creates beautiful music. Bakers at Dawn wants his music to sound either like a cold rock wrapped up in a warm blanket, or a warm blanket wrapped around a cold rock. Listen to: Hopeful (mp3)

1. "My New Cage" by Nathan Tyree: This is what fills my days... Nathan nailed it!
2. "An Afternoon in Late Winter" by Corey Mesler: The fear of life and change and voices that tell you the you have to be something.
3. "A Life Distilled" by Meg House: How would you want your obituary to read?
4. "Oranges" by Tamara T. Linse: The adventures of youth.
5. "Thursday Treat" by Nick Volkert: Nick is not only a wonderful painter and the designer of the OA banner, but he also creates very funny comics.
6. "A Perfect Day for Canned Tuna" by Liliana V. Blum: The story of the housewife.
7. "Happy Birthday to Me" by Kim Chinquee: This is the first story published by the new lit journal Bear Creek Feed.

1. Kendra Steiner Editions #99: Aleathia Drehmer (that's right it is her first chapbook!) Thickets of Mayapple: Letters for Edward $4
2. Marching Unabashed Into The Weeping, Searing Sun... by Hosho McCreesh: The latest from Hosho and Bottle of Smoke. The Hard Cover is sold out, but there were 100 paperbacks printed. $6
3. The New Layman's Almanac by Jacob McArthur Mooney: Wonderfully designed, this collection of poems is the creative debut from this Thieves Jargon editor. $10.17
4. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Poetry by Tao Lin: Tao's latest book is a collection of poems, you can read the first 7 pages here. Don't forget to purchase your promotional sticker. $11.51/20 for $12

1. Radius - Hoodicide mix: "Like 25 minutes of dopeness. A little beat bouillabaise, if you will. This is an exclusive mix Ra did for the 'Neighborhood Suicide' listening party a few weeks back... only souped up and extended now!!! Serious headnodding beats from the vaults and a few you might recognize.... Enjoy it kids and check out the new album." You can download it here!
2. The Roaring Nineties - This collection from the cllct crew up until now was only available to purchased. However, I was just sent this link to download the entire mix. It features covers of 90's songs including (Fu-gee-la, Waterdalls, Lovefool, and Suck my Kiss) here is .rar file!

1. This Ivy League "London Bridges"
2. Illuminea's live video ep
3. Robot Girlfriend Roundtable in four parts: Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4
4. Jill Summers "Wayside Flowers"

Paint the Town Orange

May 17th, 2008 - Glasslands Gallery, Brooklyn - FM Belfast

Friday, May 23, 2008

Band of the Week

One for the Team

What people enjoy about pop music is, for the most part, that it exsists to make them smile. You play it at parties, you bop your head along in the car, alone or with friends music fills your life and brings a joyful escape. You ride the sounds away from work, problems, life, and dance all night. So how does a musician or someone heavily invovled in the industry escape? Well in the case of One For The Team's, Ian Anderson he decided to start another band in order to let loose and dance around.

Forming in 2006, at the time Ian was already in a band (Aneuretical), running a music label (Afternoon Records), and running a blog (MFR). The band immediatly recorded its debut album Good Boys Don't Make Noise, and now two years later the bands returns with Build It Up (Militia Group). The music on Good Boys... was a fun and energectic guitar-driven collection of song touching on love and life. Since its release, Ian has started a PR company (Vitriol Promotions) and has written a book (Here Come The Regulars, to be published by Ferrar-Strauss in 2009). Oh, did I mention he is only 23?

One for the Team recently embarked on a massive tour, but Ian Anderson and Grace Fiddler were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): One for the Team recently signed to The Militia Group, leaving Afternoon Records. What prompted this move? What does Militia offer that Afternoon might not or is this more of a separation of duties type of move?
Ian Anderson (IA): We left Afternoon because it just felt like the right time. Obviously, we've been a part of the AR community since we started and are very invested in it and all of the people involved, so it would have to be a pretty special label with some great people working together to motivate us to move. Militia Group has a lot of resources that we didn't have at Afternoon, but most importantly, it provided the opportunity for me to let the workload shift. AR is my passion and I love working for the bands on my label, as a result, sometimes I neglected my duties as the main band guy for the Team, which isn't cool. Having TMG involved is simply wonderful because we have a whole group of people helping out and caring about the project as much as we do.

OA: Your sophomore album, Build it Up, with be released in August. How will this album compare to Good Boys Don't Make Noise?
IA: Build It Up will be out on August 19 and we're really excited about it. It is a very different record than "Good Boys" and I've honestly been having a hard time describing it to people who've asked about it. When I recorded "Good Boys," we weren't really a band yet. It was more of an outlet for Elliot, John and I to get out our giggles and write some pop songs. Plus, most of what you hear on that record is actually just me goofing off on a Saturday night when I was bored – it wasn't really a group effort. Not to mention that we made that record in January 2006 and I just feel like a completely different person now than I did then.

The biggest difference on this record in my opinion, however, is that One for the Team is now complete. With Grace and Bill, we've finally achieved the perfect familial-bonded atomic-orbiter balance that is really satisfying as musicians. Plus, Bill has like 17 solos on this record, which are all just huge, and Grace and I only sing a handful of words without each other. The thing that I think is so cool about the record is that I wrote "Build It Up" mostly in my bedroom on acoustic guitar, which resulted in some pretty soft and gentle songs, because I'm a soft and gentle guy. However, the band likes to rock, a lot, so we turned those songs into loud, sunshiny pop jams heavy on the riffage. That transformation was a process that allowed everyone to build upon the original ideas with their own, because of this, I think these songs reached a maturation level that was not evident on "Good Boys."

Beyond having everybody contributing, another big difference is that with "Good Boys" I was still learning how to write pop songs. Granted, I am STILL learning, and you never really stop learning, but with this record, I am more confident with what ended up on it.
Grace Fiddler (GF): The difference is that I am on it. Haha. Kidding, that's obviously not the only difference, just the one most apparent to myself.

OA: 180 tour dates! Do you enjoy touring? Aside from Minnesota, what city do you look forward to playing this summer?
IA: We do like to tour. Maybe me a bit more than everyone else because I'm a little cracked, but we're planning on being in a van from August to January! We have a lot of cities that we like, but a couple of my personal favorites are St. Louis, Denver and Eau Claire.
GF: Being in a van that much and on the road so much is incredibly intimidating and exhilarating. I have played so few shows outside of Minnesota that I can count them on my fingers. So I'm going from that to the on the road no skool no rulezz lifestyle. Hopefully I will enjoy it. Aaaah!

OA: You seem to be a busy man with the label, the pr company (Vitriol), the band, the incredible blog, and you have been involved in the outlets from an early age on. When did you know that you would want to play such pivotal role in Minnesota music and in the music industry in general?
IA: It never was a conscious decision and I'm not sure pivotal role is the right way to put it. I am fortunate to be a part of strong musical community and I take pride in making an effort to help that community grow and have fun. I really like to work hard and I have a lot of fun working with music, so goes well hand-in-hand.
GF: What he said. I too do not know how I manage to run Ian's label, blog, PR company or life without letting out the secret that I actually am Ian Anderson.

OA: As a blogger and a label owner, what are your thoughts on the effectiveness of new media as it relates to records sales?
IA: New media is by far the single best and most effective way to sell records for independent labels and artists. No question.

OA: Does the "hype" translate to sales, concert attendance, etc.?
IA: In my personal experience, hype translates into attendance and more illegal downloads. Sales, not so much. But that can be rationalized if people keep coming out to shows.

OA: What's next for Ian Anderson and One For The Team?
IA: Total world domination and we're trying to get Phantom Planet, Tilly and the Wall and Justin Timberlake to take us on tour with them. Keep making records, keep touring. And I'm coming out with a book next year called "Here Come the Regulars" (Ferrar-Strauss). And watching a lot of "Spain: On the Road Again" with Maria Batalli and Gweneth Paltrow.
GF: Ian stole that PBS TV show from me just now. He only wrote that because I was reading about Mario Batali online. Jeez Louise he didn't even spell Batali right!

Listen to: Best Supporting Actor (mp3)

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee, and where is your favorite coffee spot?
IA: No coffee for me, I am a crazy insomniac.
GF: Medium dark roast to go, no room for cream.

OA: I don't think you have time to read, but what was the last great book you have read?
IA: I'm working on a Benjamin Franklin biography, written by that one CNN correspondent and, since we're about to head out on tour, I'm about to revisit Emerson's Essays, specifically his thoughts on self-reliance.
GF: I just finished Julia Child's autobiography. I read the whole book in her voice.

May 23 2008 6:00P Bela Dubby - All Ages Cleveland, Ohio
May 24 2008 8:00P Tammany Hall - 18+ Worcester, Massachusetts
May 25 2008 5:00P Sound Fix - (Special All Ages Acoustic Show) Brooklyn, New York
May 26 2008 8:00P Trash Bar - 21+ Brooklyn, New York
May 27 2008 8:00P Rehab (formerly Club Midway) - 18+ New York, New York
May 28 2008 6:00P Modern Formations - All Ages Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
May 29 2008 8:00P Beat Kitchen - 17+ Chicago, Illinois
May 30 2008 8:00P High Noon w/French Kicks, Frightened Rabbit Madison, Wisconsin
Jun 2 2008 8:00P The Record Bar w/French Kicks, Frightened Rabbit - 18+ Kansas City, Missouri
Jun 3 2008 8:00P Blue Fugue - All Ages Columbia, Missouri
Jun 4 2008 6:00P Box Awesome - All Ages Lincoln, Nebraska
Jun 5 2008 6:00P Vaudeville Mews - All Ages Des Moines, Iowa
Jun 6 2008 8:00P Castle Hooks w/We All Have Hooks For Hands - All Ages Vermillion, South Dakota
Jun 7 2008 6:00P The Nestor - 21+ Fargo, North Dakota
Jun 24 2008 4:00P Eclipse Records w/Headlights, Now, Now Every Children - All Ages St. Paul, Minnesota
Jul 23 2008 8:00P July 23 -August 13: West Coast Tour Seattle, Washington
Aug 19 2008 6:00A "Build It Up" out on The Militia Group universe-wide Everywhere, Minnesota

For more information on One For The Team please visit their website.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reader Meet Author

David McNamara

Where would the writer be without the publisher and printer? Standing on a street corner, shouting from rooftops, posting poems on myspace? The independent publisher is a dedicated soul, not concerned with wealth, but concern for the advancement of the written word. He/She fantasizes about the weight and texture of paper and dreams about fonts. Cherishing that perfect cover and seeking out the next great voice. Ok, that may be a bit of an oversell, but David McNamara has honestly put his heart, soul, and money into making sunnyoutside one of the finest independent presses in the country.

Originally conceived as a literary journal in November of 2000, sunnyoutside wasn't officially launched as an imprint until 2004. Since that time they have produced 29 books and broadsides. Some paperback and some saddle-stitched, but all crafted with care and respect to the words, thoughts, and ideas inside.

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

Orange Alert (OA): In 2004 you made the move from on-line journal to small press, what factors prompted this move? Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
David McNamara (DM): The other day I was actually thinking about this, and thought how I wished we jumped into books sooner. But the truth is that everything I had printed earlier was done offset and things had changed so quickly with digital printing that it was probably good that I took the time to survey the landscape a bit. Also it was a lot of fun to do the broadsheets and little pieces and to work with the people those involved—for example, it was great to work with John Sweet again (we had done a split chap published by Crimson Leer Press years earlier) and to work with justin.barrett while he was still writing, and projects with Jason Heroux, Nathan Graziano, William Taylor Jr., and Michael Kriesel all led to bigger things, and through the Heroux broadsheet I met and worked with Bill Roberts of Bottle of Smoke Press, which was fantastic in itself.

So when you consider all of that, no, I don’t think I there are any grounds for complaint.

OA: Is there a certain quality that you look for in a manuscript? How many submissions do you receive in a month?
DM: There’s not a checklist of things I look for in a manuscript, but generally I prefer crafted work that has an extra dimension to it. But at the same time it has to be concise and efficient with its words. If it’s narrative work, it has to have depth beyond a journal entry or stream of consciousness. But definitely work that isn’t totally obscure—an ideal hybrid of emotive and cerebral. The work has to be poignant.

Since we don’t read unsolicited submissions, there aren’t too many new submissions coming in during the average month. I probably have a look at about two new submissions a month while juggling up to a half-dozen manuscripts through editorial.

OA: Is there someone out there that you would love to see involved with Sunnyoutside Press?
DM: I’m pretty lucky to have the stable of authors we currently have at sunnyoutside, so I’m mostly just glad to have the opportunity to work with those individuals. But there’s always the larger-than-life names that I’ve always been fond of—Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Billy Collins—that I’d love to have a chance to work with. I’ve always wanted to publish something by Bill Maher, too, and maybe someone like P.J. O’Rourke. Non-fiction writers like Bill Bryson, Lawrence Millman, Tim Cahill. But all those people are probably under contract somewhere even if they were to take a sniff at a wee little press like sunnyoutside.

OA: Your books come in many different sizes and shapes, with varying types of paper and cover images. How important is the appearance of chapbook? What role do you play in that process?
DM: The appearance is essential. It’s why sunnyoutside exists. The old saying is that the typeface is the clothes you dress your words in, and I think that’s certainly true. Taking it further, Bruce Rogers, arguably the greatest book designer who ever lived, stressed the importance of looking at the book as a whole—the measure, leading, the font’s x-height and point size, margins, trim size, are all interdependent variables. If you change one, you have to go back and look at everything else.

I try to approach the art and typeface and paper in the same way, too. Nothing goes to print without a hard copy proof to make sure there’s a balance to the eye. Or at least I hope that’s the end result.

We’re admittedly a bit low-brow by Rogers’s standards, but, then again, he also said that he designed one-hundred books before he got it right. Hopefully I’m on the right path.

As for my role, I have done the text layout for all of our books and have done the covers for all but one—the wonderful cover of the first impression of Rumors of Electricity by Richard Krech was done by Kseniya Thomas—and have commissioned most of the art specifically for a title.

OA: What are your thoughts on print-on-demand vs. offset printing?
DM: Offset printing is still superior to digital printing, although first I think you have to clarify what it’s being compared to—some printers still define print-on-demand as a thousand books or less while the more contemporary usage is to mean one at a time, as the orders come in. As for the latter, most of the work I’ve seen has been less than impressive, although I think that’s more a case of the company’s business model than the technological capabilities. But some digital printing is very, very close to offset quality, at least with k/k text. The pre-press work is also a major variable—I’ve seen different books that have come off the same press that look vastly different in quality.

OA: What's next for David McNamara and Sunnyoutside Press?
DM: Well, we hope to have distribution by the end of the year, and possibly even much sooner, which will hopefully be a massive step. I’ve recently been asked to be on the advisory board of the Western New York Book Arts Collaborative, which is in an exciting stage of its history—they’re on the verge of buying a building in downtown Buffalo in which to set up offices and workshops. We’re just trying to stay busy and keep improving and growing.

As for books, I’m quite excited with the list of forthcoming titles. We should have works by the following all out by the end of the year, with some much sooner: Noel Sloboda, Taylor Altman, Hosho McCreesh, Andrew Taylor, William Taylor Jr., Brian McGettrick, Alan Catlin, and Michael Kriesel. And we’ve just signed our first contract for a non-fiction book—a collection of essays by Curtis Smith.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot? Is there different between Seattle and Buffalo as far as coffee is concerned?
DM: Most definitely—I’m a half-pot-a-day drinker. I probably prefer Indonesian Sumatra the most, although I’ve been particularly fond of an organic Nicaraguan lately, which I’m drinking now. My favorite micro-roaster is probably your very own Intelligentsia, who also did the roasting for my favorite coffee shop in the Boston area, Diesel Café. I’m also quite fond of George Howell’s Terroir, who is the roaster for my other favorite café in Somerville, True Grounds.

There’s actually a pretty big difference in coffee between Seattle and Buffalo, on multiple levels. It sounds cliché, but it was actually pretty hard to get a bad cup of coffee in Seattle. Seattle also has a thriving economy, so you had multiple spots in the same area to choose from, all of which were open relatively late. Same in Somerville—Diesel is open to midnight, if I recall. Here in Buffalo the one true local coffee shop near me closes at 6 p.m. every day. There’s a regional chain that’s decent enough, although none of the locations are convenient; a sweets shop that has excellent espresso that’s open until later; and a wonderful greasy spoon on our block that’s open until 9 p.m., but there’s not much else for independent coffee shops. It’s pretty much Starbucks, Tim Hortons, or Dunkin Donuts beyond those. But we’re relatively new here, so I’m sure there are gems we’ve yet to discover, too.

OA: What type of music do you listen to? Who are a few of your current favorites?
DM: I have as hard a time describing the music I like as I do what I look for in a manuscript, I suppose. I like a pretty wide range, although I suppose the core of it would be called independent, although I’m not really sure that’s a useful qualifier.

Some of my all-time favorites, in no particular order: Charles Mingus, Shellac, McClusky, The Clash, PJ Harvey, The Murder City Devils, Smog, Superchunk, Modest Mouse, Hayden, Fugazi, Sleater-Kinney, Archers of Loaf, Mule, Built to Spill, DJ Shadow, Jesus Lizard, June of 44, Mule, Poster Children, Rye Coalition, Railroad Jerk, Tom Waits, Pavement, Jets to Brazil.

For more on David McNamara and sunnyoutside visit their website and buy their books!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 18th, 2008: Bowery Ballroom - New York, New York - Black Kids

Artist of the Week

@->- (Rose) 2008 Letter Press Print

Rachel E. Foster

There has always been an artful nature behind the way humans choose to translate the sounds they make into a visual form. The alphabet, no matter the language, is the connection of symbol and sound, and it is a beautiful sight. It is the artist's job to take the symbols and images of the world and filter them through their eye, mind, and hand. In a similar fashion, the writer takes these symbols and sounds and combines them in such a way as to explain their thoughts and experiences. It is symbols that tie all art forms together, and ties the artist to the world.

Chicago artist Rachel E. Foster utilizes symbols, specifically letters, to make little artistic statements. At times humorous and at times thought provoking, her work ranges from found playing cards, to a cut-up Bible passages, to ghosts, to blessed dots. Regardless of the statement, her work is always through provoking and extremely clever. What to us is a figure of speech takes on a whole new meaning in Rachel's hand. A graduate of Columbia College, Rachael's work has been shown in several local galleries, but last year she had the honor of traveling to Tokyo and working with the Machida City Museum.

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

"The Name Game" 2008 Letter Press Print

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Rachel E. Foster (RF): I think that all art concerns itself with trying to find a way to show the unseen. Most artists apply that mantra a little more abstractly than me. I’m a literal kinda girl so I literally like to take something intangible and make it tangible.

OA: First of all let me tell you that of what I have seen of your work "99 Problems" is my favorite piece. Why that song and that lyric?
RF: I’m glad you like it. I picked that lyric simply because I thought it would be funny surrounded by a nice, floral border. I want to learn to embroider so I can make a series of gangsta rap lyrics embroidered on pillows.

"Perish Like The Word" 2008 Letter Press Print

OA: I also enjoy your emoticons series. This seems to be a common them in some of your work, modern media and communication in the context of an ancient medium. Is that where emoticons is coming from?
RF: I’m attracted to language because it is some thing that is both seen and unseen. You can diagram it, analyze it, record it, etc. While at the same time its constantly flowing, changing, and growing. The emoticons amuse me because you’re taking some pretty complex ideas, like love, and reducing it to its simplest form.

OA: Your scientific proof of Karma is a fascinating study. Attitude affects outcome, and not outcome affecting attitude. Why gambling, though?
RF: To give a monetary value to the idea of karma. It becomes pretty mathematical, one week of shitty behavior costs X amount of money. Plus, I think most people don’t care about things unless it effects their wallets.

OA: Last year you spent some time in Tokyo. Did your time there influence your work in any way?
RF: Japanese culture is one of the most amazing things I have witnessed. There’s simplicity, a desire for connection, and humility to everything they do. In my more optimistic moments, I like to think of my work as containing some of these things.
I strive to make Asian art even though in no way does my work physically resemble Asian art.

OA: What's next for Rachel E. Foster?
RF: Oh man, I don’t know. (Smiley emoticon). Hopefully grad school.

"Flipping The Bird" 2008

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
RF: Years ago I worked at a coffee shop and I ended drinking so much espresso that when I wasn’t in the bathroom, I was running around like a coke-head….. I’m not much of a coffee drinker anymore.

OA: What type of music do you listen to? Who are a few of your favorite right now?
RF: I like all kinds of music. I have a playlist on my IPOD called “Sensitive White Guys with Guitars” which I’ve been listening to a lot. Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Cat Stevens, etc.

For more information on Rachel E. Foster please visit her website.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

May 16th: Piano's - New York City, NY - Cotton Jones Basket Ride

Images and Review by Dominick Mastrangelo

Bands go on hiatus all the time. Members have side projects, other sounds and interests they want to explore. Sometimes what was once working no longer is, sometimes they outgrow their sound; they mature. I don't need to list off examples because they are everywhere. Sometimes the band gets back together and sometimes they don't. The biggest fear, as a fan of the shelved project, is what will the new project sound like? And it always eases the transition when the new stuff is just as good or better than what came before. So it goes for Michael Nau and his new band the Cotton Jones Basket Ride. Nau indefinitely shelved his more famous band, Page France, and has been focusing on his new band for about a year.

Gone is the wide-eyed, dreamy folk/pop and in are darker, dustier sounds. Nau's voice is lower and less plaintive since we last heard him. And the songs, well, they are good - real good. And tucked into the small performance space in the back of Piano's in the Lower East Side on Friday, among a list of six completely different sounding bands (and no real headliner), Nau and Co. got to work well after midnight spreading the good word of the CJBR. Because the other part of starting over is that not only are you cultivating a new sound and direction but a new fan base as well.

Those who were there to see the band or had drifted in from the loud music and even louder chatter of the bar out front were treated to something special. Songs off the new Archery EP were well represented; "Chewing Gum" and "Midnight Monday and a Telescope" (mp3) were moody, bluesy numbers that crept along Doors-esque keyboards supplied by Whitney McGraw (also a member of Page France) and shuffling drums with a hypnotic guitar melody. Nau also tacked on a bit of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You" onto one song eliciting a smattering of applause among those who picked up on it.

"Gone The Bells," the one song that momentarily shed the film noir canvas the band was creating, also happened to be the best. Bouncing along an airy organ and bass line the song swayed as well as any ballad you would hear off of say, Wilco's Summerteeth. (And there was swaying.) The lovely vocal duet between Nau and McGraw as they sang "I was looking for your heart, through the flowers in the park" was moving in a way that doesn't fully come across when you listen to the song on their MySpace page a couple dozen times.

With EPs and a full length ahead there is plenty to be excited about and to look forward to from Cotton Jones. The least of which is the knowledge that with most of these releases, there will most likely be some touring to support. Best get on the ride now while there's still room.

Tues May 20 - Norfolk, VA - The Boot
Wed May 21 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
Thurs May 22 - Charlotte, NC - The Milestone
Fri May 23 - Charleston, SC - The Village Tavern
Sat May 24 - Athens, GA - Caledonia Lounge
Mon May 26 - Lexington, KY - The Dame
Tues May 27 - Nashville, TN - The End
Wed May 28 - Cincinnati, OH - Southgate House
Fri May 30 - Charlottesville, VA - Tea Bazaar
Sat May 31 - Fredericksburg, VA - The 3rd Floord
Wed Jun 11 - Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place
Thur Jun 12 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
Fri Jun 13 - Bloomington, IN - Bear's Place
Sat Jun 14 - Champaign, IL - Mike N Molly's
Sun Jun 15 - St. Louis, MO - Bluebird
Mon Jun 16 - Lawrence, KS - The Replay Lounge
Tue Jun 17 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
Wed Jun 18 - Fargo, ND - The Aquarium
Thur Jun 19 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry
Fri Jun 20 - Iowa City, IA - The Picador
Sat Jun 21 - Dekalb, IL - The House Cafe w/ Venna
Sun Jun 22 - Madison, WI - Cafe Montmartre
Mon Jun 23 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's w/ Brendan Losch
Tue Jun 24 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
Wed Jun 25 - Detroit, MI - Alvin's
Thur Jun 26 - Toronto, ONT - Silver Dollar
Fri Jun 27 - London, ONT - London Music Club
Sat Jun 28 - Pittsburgh, PA - Brillobox