Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Watch List

1. The Beesknees: I received a tip from a friend this week about a great new Chicago group. The Beesknees are an exciting mix of dance and soul, and they will make you move!
2. Anthony Rochester: I am positive that Anthony is the first musician from Tasmania that I have ever mentioned. His lazy vocals and fresh sounds are almost enough to get the image of the Tazmanian Devil out of your mind. Listen to: Lipscombe Larder (mp3)
3. Griffen: Chicago rapper Griffen has some major skills. His latest album is called B-Boycott and has a great cover which depicts Bush taking a bit out of the Statue of Liberty. Listen to: B-Boycott (mp3)

1. Get Quit by Tyler Stoddard Smith: A phone-in service to help quit smoking.
2. All Turn Away by Conor Robin Madigan: I've always wanted to talk to roadkill... ok, not really.
3. It's Hard to Tell If I Hate Myself or Just Everyone Else, Real Hard by Sam Pink: Workplace violence and domination is always a plus.
4. Henry, Robinson and Prufrock by Vincent Quatroche: This is taken from the newly released Autumn/Winter '08 issue of Fox Chase Review.
5. Four Poems by Nava Fader: I really like "Transparent meshes" the best.
6. Houses by Merida Gorman: There is always a history that we will never discover.
7. Two Poems by Joseph Goosey: Joseph writes about everyday, but with a slightly darker slant.

1. Leia Bell: A great poster artist and illustrator. She has quite a few prints for sale.
2. Caleb Puckett Tales from the Hinterland: New book from Otoliths Press. $8.25
4. Daniel Maurer Brocabulary: The New Man-i-festo of Dude Talk: Check out the trailer! It looks funny, but seriously why does it take a book like this to get a major budget. I won't judge until I read it, but honestly why?

Getting (the streaming edition):
1. Songza: Streaming audio is at your finger tips. I like songza because it is orange!
2. TheSixtyOne: This is a great place to discover new music.
3. Hype Machine: Hype has many functions, but you can just go and stream everything that was recently added.

1. Mr. Gnome - Night of the Crickets
2. Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire
3. Termanology's - Politics As Usual
4. Amplive - How to make a mash-up... Tokyo Police Club [ft. Aesop Rock, Yak Ballz] - The Baskervilles (Amplive Remix) (mp3)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Band of the Week

That Handsome Devil

"The blinking of a billion lights/a city dressed in dynamite"

If the city is dressed in dynamite, Godforbid and That Handsome Devil just light the fuse. And as the night's sky is lit up by the explosion all of the dirt, neglect, pain, injected chemicals, abuse, fear, hatred, will be exposed in a flash and then burned. In a blaze of eleven tracks, singer/rapper Godforbid spins bar stool tales of poverty, drug abuse (legal and illegal), and a solid level of pain that is about erupt and kick down the doors of every company in every industrial complex in America. His words are real and biting, covered in grim and booze, a snapshot of the underground crashed and bleeding.

Ok, before I get you too concern, musically A City Dressed in Dynamite is a wonderful mix of Tom Waits, Gogol Bordello, and G. Love (if he decided to grow a pair and stop singing about basketball and lemonade). It is jazzy jive talk, poetry, and rap. Godforbid has seen the darkness of the night, deep and substantial, and moved through it all into the mornings harsh and unforgiving light. He is not only the frontman for That Handsome Devil, he is also member of the rap crew Alaskan Fisherman, and he has managed to blend rap and rock in a way that has never been done before.

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

Orange Alert (OA): The artwork that is included with your new album, A City Dressed in Dynamite, by Neil Parkinson is amazing. How did you come to work with Neil Parkinson, and what are your thoughts of his take on each song?
Godforbid (THD): As far as I know he doesn't exist; we've only communicated in brief conversation through hi-tech devises, but he understood and was down for the movement. It's all puzzle pieces, the skill is knowing when you see the right one. I think it looks perfect.

OA: You have called the music of That Handsome Devil "Fringe Pop". What makes this music fringe pop?
THD: At times it seems out of control; moving frantic, saying things you shouldn't. But wears it well, and knows how to get away with it in public.

OA: The various themes of this album, specifically in songs like "Kiss the Cook" and "Pills", cover some very dark issue. Do you feel this album speaks to a specific generation?
THD: Addiction and emptiness were around long before you and me; the things we treat it with are generational. In that sense; this is for us.

OA: In an interview I read you made the statement, "in control when I lose control". How big of an influence is alcohol on your music and writing?
THD: The music and writing are just the left-over's of life; we eat life and shit art. At the meal I drink.

OA: Is there anything brewing with Alaskan Fishermen?
THD: The new album is dirty and raw, it's got an untamed intelligence that's frightening and dark. We'll put it out when we get around to it.

OA: What's next for That Handsome Devil?
THD: Giant magic tricks.

A City Dressed in Dynamite
Side A: Damn Door/Wintergreen/Rob The Prez-O-Dent/Pills For Everything/Cry/Kiss The Cook
Side B: Viva Discordia (mp3)/Squares/Mexico/Reagan's Kids/Treefood

For more information on That Handsome Devil please visit their website, and to purchase your copy of A City Dressed in Dynamite go here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Peter Cole/Keyhole Magazine

I once heard it said that there are more books published then there are readers. I just can't believe that statement can be true. As I sit here with stacks of books surrounding me, I know that every reader is reading multiple books and journals and magazine at the same time. Well, at least I am, and when I received Issue# 3 of Keyhole Magazine I was happy to take a look. I wanted to take a look because it had everything I look for in a journal. It was well designed with a great cover, it featured a diverse mix of literature (poetry, flash fiction, and longer fiction), and it had authors that I was familiar with. What a perfect package, and the great collection work. When dealing with a journal the cover and design is key. Unlike a novel, a literary journal can be sold or ignored based on its cover. Many times two journals could feature the same writer or have a similar mix of pieces, and the cover can really impact a reader's decision. Sarah Stanley has secured Keyhole's place on myself and I am sure she will do the same for you.

The main editor of Keyhole Magazine is Peter Cole, and he takes great pride in what his staff has produced. When I asked him what set his journal apart from the others I had no idea what he would say. Now after speaking with him and reading through his journal I am sure it is his staff and his own passion for the project that set Keyhole apart from other journals.

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

Orange Alert (OA): The response to the arrival of Keyhole to the literary scene this year has been very positive. Why did you feel the world needed another literary journal?
Peter Cole (PC): Yes, the literary community is very nice, and it's great to be a part of it.

Everything thrives on competition. Personally, I don't consider other journals to be competitors, but the same principle applies. If there's no reason to push the envelope then it's less likely to be pushed. It keeps everything moving forward. The more journals the better off the world will be. Journals can't publish every good story or poem out there--I'm certain that there is far more good writing than there are literary journals--more journals equals more to read. Most importantly, for variety. "Good" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone. The world would be a boring place if we were stuck on one thing.

OA: What do you feel sets Keyhole apart from other journals out there?
PC: I was asked this question at the beginning of the year and didn't give a very good response. Half a year later and I still can't think of anything. We're working toward certain things that might set us apart, but they haven't happened yet. If I said anything, I know I'd just find a journal that does the same thing and then I'd feel sheepish.

OA: I love the covers that you have used for the first four issues. How important is cover design for a lit journal?
PC: We're very fortunate to have Sarah Stanley working on the cover designs. I received a proof for issue 4 earlier this week, and it looks even better in physical form. I'm excited to own it myself.

You know, we judge everything by appearance. And it's not a shallow thing to do. It's how brains are wired. Though the saying is true--a nice cover doesn't equate to a good read and a bad design doesn't necessarily mean a bad one. But if you feel that you've got something worth reading, you should do your authors a favor and wrap them in something worth looking at.

OA: You are working with Adam Robinson on a project called Nashville is Reads. What can you tell us about this project?
PC: Is Reads is really great, and I'm happy to be a part of it. It's Adam's project (Baltimore Is Reads), and he graciously let me be co-editor. We posted the poems in Nashville just a few days ago, and Adam posts the same poems in Baltimore. The point is to experience poetry in an outdoor setting. I've only read the poems at their locations late at night. You can hear trains, crosswalk beeping, alley rats, cars. The poem and the atmosphere really enhance each other. Selecting the location to go with the poem (or the other way around) is a very different aspect of editing, and it's really fun.

OA: With your work with Keyhole and other projects how much time do you spend on your personal writing?
PC: Well, I'm not really much of a writer. I've taken a few stabs at it, but I'm self-conscious. I read so many good things every's a little intimidating. I've got some things rolling around my head, but to answer your question I haven't had much time to devote to it. That's fine with me though. Keyhole is worth it, and even though it takes up pretty much every spare second that I have, it doesn't feel like work.

OA: What's next for Peter Cole and Keyhole?
PC: Hopefully a lot. We've got some big plans, but I don't like to say that things will happen until they happen. I'm superstitious. But here are a few things that I can say with more certainty. We just relaunched our website ('ll give us an opportunity to feature more short fiction, and anyone can sign up for an account and write articles. We're incorporating as a non-profit as we speak. Keyhole Press will release books. Our first book will be William Walsh's Questionstruck, which is a series of question-based texts derived from the books of Calvin Trillin. Very excited about that. There are a few other releases in the works as well. Next month we'll have a winner of our poetry chapbook contest, along with the chapbook, which should be fun. After that we're going to run a fiction chapbook contest, and we've got a great judge on board.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Every town has one (or at least they use to), where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
PC: Unfortunately, most of the books I'm interested in I have to buy online, or at Border's if I'm lucky. We do have a good used bookstore in town, Rhino Books. I really want to start my own bookstore. I wish I could put this as the answer to the previous question.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy, and who are a few of your favorites?
PC: I like everything, except country (old country is good though). If I'm driving I usually listen to the jazz station. I like old R&B. I tend to listen to a few albums repetitively. Lately it's been She &Him, My Morning Jacket, and The Kinks. A couple months ago it was RubySuns, Britney Spears (her latest album is really good), and Tom Waits. All-time favorites: Radiohead and Richard Buckner

For more information on Keyhole Magazine and Peter Cole please visit their website. A one year subscription is only $29.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Artist of the Week

Linda Zacks

Behind every advertisement for every store, be it on billboards, commercials, or in magazines, there is an illustrator/designer. The illustrator is charged with the responsibility of taking an average campaign or sale or product and making it seem original and exciting. They have to have a sense of what is currently relevant and desired, and still maintain a bit of artist control and freedom. They must balance the needs of the client, the demands of the consumers, and their own voice. Their work must be consistent and recognizable, while remaining both subtle and bold.

New York artist Linda Zacks graduated from Brown University in 1995, where she studied semiotics and creative writing. Prior to launching a freelance career, Linda was Design Director at Now she has worked with many major companies like Sony, Target, Adobe, Columbia Records, Spike TV, Nickelodeon, Verizon, and more. Her work is wild and colorful, mixing images with bright colors and hand-written words. It's edgy, but specific and creative enough to reach its intended audience. Linda was chosen as a "fresh" artist in 2007 Communication Arts Advertising Design Annual. She has also won awards from professional organizations and publications including some Broadcast Design Awards.

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

Orange Alert (OA): Working as an illustrator and designer seems like it would be complicated. How do you balance your personal vision and the brand and vision of the company?
Linda Zacks (LZ): Clients usually come to me for just that – my personal vision. But of course there’s always back and forths in any job, and usually a bit of convincing. And a bit of frustration. But the push/pull is what makes an idea evolve into something stronger. After the initial conversations, I can get a sense of the needs and wants of the client and meld it with my voice and ideas. Then you just have to go for what you believe in.

OA: You work with a lot of big companies, how does a young artist get the attention of the bigger clients?
LZ: Having a website is key as well as always working on personal projects to build up your voice and personal style. Years ago, my site ONLY consisited of personal projects, and one by one, you slowly get to work with clients on a more consistent basis. It’s a long hard road, and it never stops being long OR hard. You have to keep reinventing your personal brand and work to fine-tune your message, so people can slowly start to get an idea of your thought processes and how you can aid in the success of their brand. I try to redesign my site every year or two- weed out the rotten oranges and keep pushing to connect with new people and interesting projects. Being resourceful- researching the kinds of companies and places that produce work that turns you on, finding key people to contact, posting updates on web design portals, or other interesting ways to get yourself seen in this day and age of visual overload. Marketing yourself is by far the most challenging. But never forget that there is always time to create for yourself- that sacred zone that no one can touch.

OA: You are a member of Little Chimp Society, what are your thoughts on the work that they do, and internet communities and promotion in general?
LZ: I think design and art communities on the internet are wonderful and inspirational. They are a great place to show your work and also see the vast array of yummy visual tidbits circling the globe.

OA: I love the little books you have created. Where did that idea come from? Are these books for sale?
LZ: Thanks! I lovelove making books, holding books, smelling books – got a few new ones I am working on, but they usually take a while. I just get a strong idea that won’t leave my head and it leads to some kind of visual narrative. Where do ideas come from?? Hmmmmm The books are personal projects so they are close to my heart and each one tells a very different story. It’s my place for the pure pleasure of creation and experimentation! I recently found a place on the web where you can reproduce your books and sell them online. Considering all of the originals are one-of-a-kind, I was excited to try it out with one of my books I made about Havana, Cuba. It was challenging to retool the original book into a different format, but utterly fun & exciting to have it arrive in the mail as a little replica of the original. You can purchase it here. I will definitely be doing this for some of my other books, so people can have a chance to buy them if they are interested. The next one that will be available is my book called nycSOULcity. Still working on getting that one finished inbetween other projects.

OA: The portfolio on your site is filled with design items, but it leads me to wonder about what your personal collection might look like?
LZ: My apartment is jammed full of all kind of art and sketches and doodles all over the place. Lots of stuff, little things, big things. You never know when you might need the littlest scrap of paper, so I tend to keep stuff that most people would chuck in the trash. So I’d say it looks like a whole bunch of colorful clutter that’s taking over evey square inch of my home.

OA: What's next for Linda Zacks?
LZ: More experimenting, more challenging projects, more mess and spilled ink!
I’d love to have an exhibition of large prints from my Cuba book- so I am working on trying to make that happen. I’m open for anything that comes my way !

Bonus Question:
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite kind and where is your favorite cup.
LZ: Hate coffee but LOVE coffee ice-cream yummmm cold with chocolate bits or rainbow sprinkles yesssss

OA: Where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
LZ: There’s a yummy bookstore in the city called St. Marks Bookshop and one in Williamsburg by my house called Spoonbill & Sugartown. Great art books and mags and thingies to get lost in for hours! yessssssssssssssss

For more information on Linda Zacks please visit her website.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Taylor Altman Swimming Back (Sunnyoutside, Aug. 28th, 2008)

"Whenever grownups talk, it's always about nothing but always urgently important, ans then the laughter goes up in the little sparks that shimmer and fade." from "Fireworks"

Swimming Back is a story of youth and loss, the loss of a father and the loss of childhood. Filled with images of growing up on the East Coast, the swimming and the flirting, the laughter and tears, running from bees and hiding from reality. There is an ever present fear of adulthood, but the desire to the leap ahead. It took me back to the days among the corn and stars, dancing and playing games. Although my father was gone, the summer wind and the brightness of the grass stains kept my mind filled.

Taylor Altman shows incredible strength and restraint in this, her debut collection. A graduate of Stanford University, she displays an ability to capture a moment in time and guide the reader through every detail. Spending time in both New York and Boston, her work is filled with images of crisp Autumns and steamy summers. Never really escaping the ponds and pools that once filled her childhood, Swimming Back, is her journey back towards her youth, and now she is prepared for and aware of the life ahead. Here is what she had to say about the collection: "My father died of a sudden heart attack when I was four years old. That was almost twenty years ago, but it still haunts me. I felt like a whole world was lost to me, that a door had shut. Finding this door has been a long process of "swimming back" toward normalcy, toward comfort in a world where the people and the things you love most can be taken away from you for no reason whatsoever."

Donovan Quinn & The 13th Month Donovan Quinn & The 13th Month (Soft Abuse, Sept. 23, 2008)

To continue on the subject of loss, Donovan Quinn has crafted an album of loss, but a different kind of loss. His is a surreal heartbreak, a tender sadness that twists and spins into metaphors that echo and search for peace. This journey is amplified by Quinn's smooth delivery, which is wrapped in a haze of grit and mystery. As the seasons begin to change over the next month, this album will be a perfect soundtrack for the cool breeze that will begin to blow. Songs like "October Bride" and "I Have Seen the Season Change" will set the scene with Quinn darkly romantic sound.

The son of Dave Carter, bassist & vocalist for legendary 60's psychedelic group Country Weather, and named after Mr. Leitch, Quinn grew up on a horse ranch in Walnut Creek, CA and began writing songs at an early age. As half of the psych-folk duo The Skygreen Leopards, he begin to build a style and reputation for writing songs that are as melodic and beautiful as they are dark. This album expands that reputation and pushes him forward and closer to figuring it all out.

01. October's Bride
02. Horror & Fear
03. Sister Alchemy
04. Patterns on a Summer Dress
05. The Wind At Her Craft
06. Quarantine
07. They're Going To Pick Us Apart
08. Take the Cross Off the Mantle
09. Hollowed Candles
10. "Moose Indian"
11. Holy Agent (mp3)
12. Dark Angel
13. Heathen Honeymoon
14. I Have Seen the Season Change

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

On September 9th, Boston's Mr. Lif will release the first single and title track for his latest album I Heard it Today (Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises, Jan. 20th, 2009). Lif, one of the most powerful and insightful political rappers of his generation, has a unique plan for this album. He will write and release 1-2 songs every three weeks until Election Day (November 4), following which he'll release one more single based on his post electoral thoughts. Bloodbot is Lif's new label, and production on the various tracks will come from Edan, J Zone, Illmind, and others. You knew Lif would not remain silent during a major election.

Providence-based Mikey Lamantia Jr. and Alexander Laorenza are collectively known as the electro dance-pop duo MakeUpBreakUp. Their debut EP, We Prefer Not To..., was released on August 19th. While Lamantia handles all vocals, guitars, synths, drums, and production, Laorenza holds down bass, guitars, and additional synths. Together, they craft upbeat and melodious dance-pop that would have made New Order of 1983 proud. I overheard a recent comment regarding this type of sound, and although I admit their seems to more and more electro bands breaking through, the market has not been tapped. MakeUpBreakUp is a great addition and a lot of fun.

Listen to: Blame Game (mp3)

Speaking of electropop, Salme Dahlstrom, is mysterious and dark, but her electro beats are sure to please. On August 19th she released The Acid Cowgirl Audio Trade. This an album filled with potential singles, and underground dance floor jams. A hands-on producer, Dahlstrom does all her own programming, editing and mixing. While she invited a couple of friends to perform on a few of the tracks she played most of the instruments herself as well. Here is what she had to say about the album and the process, "My idea was to write catchy pop songs with big hooks and dress them up in a cutting edge electronic production,” Dahlstrom says. “I love the sound of Fatboy Slim and The Crystal Method and artists like that and I wanted my songs to have the same excitement and edge production wise. But, as I am a musician and not a DJ, it was important to me to create my own samples rather than search through the old record bin to find them. I would record a slew of guitar riffs, bass lines, live drums, vocals, etc. and then cut them up, re-sample, filter and tweak the crap out them. I then used those samples to build the production."

Listen to: Superstar Car Crash (mp3)

Arizona's Dear and The Headlights are preparing to release their second album, Drunk Like Bible Times, on Sept 30th via Equal Vision Records. this quintet-Ian Metzger (vocals/guitar/keys), Robert Cissell (guitar/keys), PJ Waxman (guitar/keys), Chuckie Duff (bass/keys) and Mark Kulvinskas (drums)-are just five guys who love creating music. Their sound is no frills, no tricks, no rules, just straight forward rock. Their debut album, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves (2007) was really well received, and earned them a spot at Lollapalooza last summer. Now, as they return, they plan to reach an even broader audience.

Listen to: Talk About (mp3)

Rob Lee is a master of many things, from playing drums with Warp' Chris Clark to playing bass and percussion with Friendly Fires to cutting out random and colorful shapes to piece together for album covers. However, Rob Lee may be at his best when he is recording instrumental tunes filled with synths and sounds under the name Wax Stag. Last year he debut with the Short Road EP that quickly caught the attention of bloggers and fellow musicians alike. One group in particular, Hot Chip began to sing Rob's praises and even included him on other "DJ Kicks" release. On Sept. 28th the wonderful label People in the Sky will release the full length self-titled debut by Wax Stag.

1.Short Road (mp3)
2.And How
3.Folk Rock
5.Gold Gold
6.Fantasy Gay
7.Mirror Lantern
9.The Wash
11.George White

The Peel Back: 3rd Bass Derelicts of Dialect (Def Jam, June, 1991)

This album was my soundtrack for a good year of my life. As a 13 year old boy with a Walkman and a cassette tape, I would walk the two streets of the small rural town I grew up in rapping "Kick'em in The Grill" or "Ace in the Hole" or "No Static". My Snapple Orange Iced Tea in hand and head full of new terms and ideas. Regardless if my friend appreciated the music or not I memorized every word of every song and studied every beat. I felt I had found an album that was both hilarious and insightful, and one that spoke to what I was going through.

On this their second album, MC Serch, Prime Minister Peter Nice, and DJ Daddy Rich, lay down 19 songs and 4 skits. They all are filled imagery and repeated saying and them from their debut The Cactus Album. With a wonderful guest appearance by Chubb Rock this album fit nicely with their debut album and its appearance by KMD's Zev Love X (aka MF Doom).

Listen to: Kick'em in The Grill (mp3) and Ace in the Hole (mp3)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Watch List

1. Awesome New Republic: Miami is home to, as they put it, " 2 doods who grew up on Prince and Georgio Moroder". Their new release, Rational Geographic, will be out this fall. Listen to: Hide Your Young (mp3)
2. Obi Best: Back-up singer for Bird & The Bee, Obi Best steps out from the shadows and bring the world Capades on Aug. 25th. Listen to: Nothing Can Come Between Us (mp3)
3. Rob & Jack America: Blog radio is interesting, unfiltered, and unedited. Rob Plath & Jack Henry focus on lit and whatever random thoughts that come into their heads. Their most recent interview was with Brian Fugett of Zygote in My Coffee. This is an off shoot of Deadbeat Press.

1. Naked by Savannah Louise: A little piece about love and rooftops and nudity and car accidents.
2. Two Poems by Jim Warner: Especially "iron man #200" with its great imagery.
3. parenthetical (revised) number seven by J.A. Tyler: I really like the way this one is written.
4. Missive to T by John Ottey: A story about being homesick in Asia.
5. Hotline to Hell by C.A. Masterson: Would you sell your soul to the devil to be a best-selling author?
6. Tony Valentine Remembered by Elizabeth Schulte: A rebel is every sense of the word.
7. The Solution to the Problem by Jonathan Pinnock: Questions and solutions.

1. Open Face Sandwich: This is a new annual journal published by Fifth Planet Press. They are currently accepting submissions for the 2009 Issue. (full review to follow!)
2. Six Gallery Press: I received two novels from Six Gallery this week, West Virginia by Che Elias and The Second Elizabeth by Karen Lillis. Check out this press, full reviews to follow.
3. The Ghost Factory: A new literary magazine printed in Chicago by David Peak. They have printed two issues so far, and are a great editions to Chicago lit.
4. Juliet Cook "Gingerbread Girl": Juliet has a new chap, and it is her first published by a press other than her own.
5. Sprout Home: New find on a trip downtown.

1. Twitter: I have finally given in and joined the twitter craze.
2. MP3's: Lil Wayne - A Milli (Infuze Remix) (mp3) and The Mighty Underdogs - The Anthem (mp3)

1. Ed Harcourt "Until Tomorrow Then": This is one of the best songs of 2008!
2. Fight Bite "Swissex Lover": Heavenly drone
3. Donovan Quinn & The 13th Month "Heathen Honeymoon"
4. Tim Hall "Full of It" The Promo video #3 (here is video 1 and Lesson #1)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Band of the Week

What Laura Says

There is no formula or secret or certain set of instructions to finding an audience and eventually a label. If your are honest with yourself about your sound, and willing to release your music on your own positive things will happen. What seems to be extremely important these days is your ability perform live. On the road is where you perfect your sound and your ability to entertain and not just play the chords and sing the words. So in most cases it is a combination of hard work, long tours, and perseverance that wins in the end.

Coming together as a duo back in 2006 and later expanding into the band they are today, Phoenix's What Laura Says have worked hard on the collection of song they just released. In fact, Thinks and Feels, was originally self-released a year ago. Their sound is a mixture of blues, piano-pop, alt-country, and the most basic roots of rock 'n' roll. All of this shines in their live performances. It was actually all the buzz surrounding their performances that caught the eye of a young North Carolina label, Terpsikhore, and thus forming a perfect match both in sound and style.

Recently, What Laura Says was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Your new album, Thinks and Feels, comes out August 19th. Your band name used to be What Laura Say Thinks and Feels, and now it is What Laura Says. What can you tell us about the album, and what was the reason for the name change?
What Laura Says (WLS): Industry folk and fans alike just could not wrap their heads around the name What Laura Says Thinks And Feels. In this, the age of over-stimulation, it's understandable that such a name would be difficult to remember. After seemingly constant and tiresome recitations of the name along with all the confusion, we officially shortened it to What Laura Says. Not wanting to part with thinking and feeling, we decided to name the album Thinks And Feels, which is a remastered re-release of our debut album. The new release includes a new track and revamped art.

OA: Terpsikhore seems like a nice young label. What has your expience been like so far?
WLS: They are indeed nice, and young... Terpsikhore has helped to equip us with the tools necessary to properly put out a national release; this includes major funding for promotion and touring, proper distribution for our record, and also a chance to put out our follow-up! The union was very organic; we have felt since the beginning that working with a small independent would be the right choice for us, and thats exactly what ended up falling in our collective laps: a new label with some creditability (in that it was formed by the Annuals' boys) that is willing to take chances amidst the hazy uncertain climate of the industry in the 21st century.

OA: I really like the design and cover of the album. The colors seem to coincide with those of the recent Sunfold release (also on Terpsikhore). How much input did the band have on the cover?
WLS: The cover art has represented this set of songs since early 2007, when the album was self released. The pictures and layout were all created by the band, and were "freshened-up" for this official re-release. The colors, to us, coincide with the colors of the music; the whole package is meant to lend to your experience with the album. Our release and Sunfold's having a similar display of color is, shall we say, a happy coincidence.

OA: I've read that you made a lot of noise at SXSW this year. What is like playing such a large and ever growing event like that?
WLS: It is a great event, the city is set a-buzz by seemingly the whole music industry. And Austin is such a happenin' place anyway. We really enjoyed being a part of SXSW, and having the chance to share stage with artists like My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Lou Reed and others. It was a successful showing for us, and we look forward to immersing ourselves in the mayhem again next year!

OA: What can fans expect from your live show in general?
WLS: Loud, larger-than-life representations of our greatest hits... a chance to rekindle one's love of the foxtrot and the lindy-hop! Seriously, lots of fun coupled with moments of intense self-reflection... and the blues, can't forget the blues. Ever.

OA: What's next for What Laura Says?
WLS: We're extremely excited by the opportunity to bring our music to more and more new ears around the country, and hopefully around the globe as well, as we begin our time of touring. We hope to start recording our next record as time permits this fall/winter/spring and continue down our musical path.

Couldn't Lose Myself If I Tried/Fashionably Moral/Illustrated Manual/Wish I Could Fly/Dot Dot Dot/Pairadice/Waves/Get Better Soon/July 23 (mp3)/One Thousand Faces/Done Whats Right

For more information on What Laura Says please visit their website.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Curtis Smith

"There's heartbreak between sound and noise, the place where we are our only audience. The canvases we paint, the songs we sing, the ways we try to love one another - our days are full of the sounds we make. But the world is awash in sounds unappreciated, sounds that never have the luxury of becoming noise." from Sound + Noise

The space between sound and noise could be translated to the space between thought and action or dream and reality. It is the difference between speaking and being heard. If you are speaking to someone or thinking of someone and they cannot hear or think about you did you actually speak? As thoughts and sounds pile-up, we amass a memory, or what Pennsylvania writer Curtis Smith may call a "ghost life". As we pass images throughout the day they become part of this ghost life, a place where we go to recall moments in time, friends, family, whatever we have stored.

Part of Curtis' new novel, Sound + Noise, is about trying to capture images, memories, ghosts, before they fall away, and part of it is about moving forward. Unsure if you really understand the past, but afraid if you don't move the future will be lost. It is a story about love, loss, memory, and taking that leap. Sound + Noise is being published by Casperian Books on Sept 2nd.

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

Orange Alert (OA): You latest novel, Sound + Noise, will be released by Casperian Books on Sept. 2nd. What can you tell us about your novel?
Curtis Smith (CS): I guess at its core, Sound and Noise is a love story. At least that's what its structure suggests. I feel more drawn to other aspects it touches upon, especially its investigations of art and faith and the places we make for them in our lives. It's a rather quiet book, a character-driven story of two decent people trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation. Part of it touches on the national debate sparked by the Terri Schiavo case, the question of what exactly makes us human, but that's just part of the narrative background, and it's not an issue I make any judgments about. The real focus is on the lives that are left behind in such a case. The book was written long before the Schiavo case--it was at another publisher for almost two years before they folded. I was fortunate to turn around after that and find such a wonderful publisher who believed so strongly in the novel and its potential.

OA: I enjoyed the reoccurring imagery that you would use to emphasize various situations in the book. The image of the high driver, or the image of being naked, or the image of Ethel Merman, they are have their own meaning and may have different meaning for each reader. Why did you select these images for Sound + Noise?
CS: I'm very drawn to reoccurring images--I love the way they resonate and accumulate meanings and nuances and how they evolve as a story progresses. I view them as little imagistic threads that add to the fabric of the novel. As far as my writing technique goes, I'm a thorough planner. I block out scenes and chapters long before I put pen to paper to start my first draft. Some of these reoccurring images are planned as well, but most arise organically as I'm writing the story. Some wither and are cast off before the final draft, but some blossom, and when they do, I'm free to plant the seeds throughout the pages wherever it helps the cause. I think the high diver and naked images work to the same end--an individual's feelings of vulnerability, isolation and fragility. Ethel Merman occupies the opposite end of that spectrum--she's the one who puts on the stage smile and lets loose with the show-must-go-on bravado that's sometimes necessary when times get tough.

OA: The cover of the book is by artist Eric Zener, and it really fits well with the book. How did you find Eric's work, and how much input did you have the cover decisions?
CS: I first saw Eric's work on the cover of an issue of West Branch a few years ago, and as we were going through discussions about the cover for Sound and Noise, I remembered Eric's work. I hunted him down on-line, and when I saw his painting "Out on the Edge," I thought it might be a great fit for the cover. I sent an email and we had some discussions and worked out a deal to use it. I'm thrilled to have such a beautiful piece of art to adorn the book's cover.

OA: You have a collection of essays coming out with Sunnyoutside. What can you tell us about that collection and your experience so far with Sunnyoutside?
CS: I'm relatively new to writing nonfiction. It's a very interesting form that I really enjoy. I wrote my first essay about three or four years ago, and in the time since, I've been fortunate to have a dozen or so pieces published, many of which focus on questions that have come to light since I became a father. My head is swimming with ideas for stories, but nonfiction is much, much more difficult for me to organize into a pleasing flow. But once an essay comes together, it has a certain truth, a certain finality that leaves a more fulfilling impression (at least to the me, as the writer) than fiction.

I wasn't really shopping my nonfiction collection around, but then I bought Rusty Barne's book, Breaking Down the Bones. Not only did I enjoy the stories, but I also thought the book was very handsome--and its length made me think Sunnyoutside might be a publisher who'd consider a nonfiction manuscript of a similar length. They've been great to deal with--and I'm looking forward to seeing the project through.

OA: Do you find you write differently when you know a story will be published in print as opposed to on-line? Do you feel printed work is more legitimate than on-line work?
CS: I started publishing stories in the early 90's, so I'm one of those folks who knew only print first, and as such, I'm partial to print and the whole tactile aesthetic of holding a book. And another thing on-line has going against it, at least in my head, is that to me, the computer screen translates into work--either real, paycheck-generating work or the work of my writing. Reading with a book in my lap brings notions of relaxation and quiet and intellectual investment, all precious commodities in my life.

That said, I've been warming up to the whole on-line world. I've been fortunate to publish on-line with a number of very cool sites, and there are some wonderful journals with superb writing that I'd love to contribute to in the future. What on-line lacks in the aesthetic realm, it more than makes up for in accessibility. The other year, I had a short piece on Pindeldyboz and a few months later, I received an email from a literary journal in India asking if they could reprint the story. That's pretty cool, I think, and it's something that probably wouldn't happen with a print journal.

OA: What's next for Curtis Smith?
CS: I hope to do a number of readings and appearances and such to promote both Sound and Noise and The Agnostic's Prayer (the essay collection from Sunnyoutside). I also just signed on with Press 53 to do my next story collection in 2010. They did my last collection, The Species Crown, and I'm really looking forward to working with them again. Other than that, I'll just keep stealing away whatever nuggets of time I can to sit down and work on the next project that grabs my attention.

Bonus Questions:
The seems to be one in every town (or at least there used to be) what is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
CS: Most of the bookstores I've loved are gone. But the Ardmore Paperback Bookstore on Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore, PA is a place I grew up loving and which still exists. I did a reading in Philly recently and stopped by the store. It's small by current standards, but it brought back a ton of memories of saving up to go there to buy a book by Bradbury or Vonnegut. When I was there last, I even bought a few books for old time's sake.

OA: What type of music do you enjoy? Who are a few of your favorites?
CS: I like all types of music--I love jazz, especially the post WW2 through Bitches Brew era. I've always been a big Stones fan. Wilco and Radiohead are some of my current favorites. Last year, I saw Dylan for the first time. I've seen a lot of shows over the years, but that was special. We had great seats and I kept thinking, 'That's Bob Dylan right in front of me.' I was absolutely star-struck. It was a pretty cool feeling to be in your late forties and still be overcome by that kind of admiration.

For more information on Curtis Smith you can visit his website, and to pre-order a copy of Sound + Noise visit Casperian Books.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Artist of the Week

Teetering Bulb

What a difficult and rewarding art form, illustration. An illustrator must have the ability to take a story or script or idea, that most often someone else has created, and filter it through their own creativity to create an image. Not just any image, but an image that fulfills their personal standards, meets the customers needs, and attracts the audience. An illustrator must work to meet the needs and maintain the brand and concepts of the customer while pushing them forward and into their style.

Brooklyn's Kurt Huggins and Zelda Devon have come together to form the illustration team known as Teetering Bulb. Together they create what they call "little fictions", which is a term that really caught my eye. I will let them explain, but my initial thought was that every image tells a story or has a story or is born from a story. Either way, to call your pieces little fictions is very interesting. They recently signed to Morgan Gaynin Inc. for representation, and deserve all the attention that that will bring.

Recently, Kurt Huggins of Teetering Bulb was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Is there a certain trait or look that would trigger the viewer to know an illustration is a Teetering Bulb illustration?
Kurt Huggins (KH): A mature and dark storybook style in glorious ZeldaColor® (patent

OA: There is a segment of your work that you call "Little Fictions". I like the idea that your images tell stories. Do you view your drawings as stories? Do you ever write stories to go along with you images? What comes first the story or the image?
KH: We definitely view our images as stories. It's exciting when a viewer sees this window into a world and imagines what's just outside of that picture frame. In our personal work, an image often comes first and then a little bit of flash fiction is formulated around that. For client work, it's the opposite, we're responding to the text we're given.

OA: Do you draw from a reference point or is it all in your head?
KH: Initially it's all in the mind, but that doesn't mean it was produced ex nihilo.The images bubble up from a kind of subconscious soup, where all these old ideas have been cooking together, breaking down, mixing, forming something that's hopefully new and unexpected. I think all creative people have this soup, for some it's just potatoes while others have Minestrone. Tom Waits' soup is made of whiskey and motor oil. Regardless, this soup is where the initial sketches come from. And from there, we gather references to help refine the image and give it some real world details.

OA: You recently announced a partnership with Morgan Gaynin. What will this move do for Teetering Bulb?
KH: It means money, drugs, and partying with Lindsay Lohan. Actually we're really lucky to be represented by them. It adds a definite legitimacy to what we're doing, and will mean higher profile work for clients we either would never have, or it would take years to get. The money, drugs, and partying with Lindsay Lohan we already had.

OA: I found your work through Little Chimp Society. In what way do you feel blogs like LCS and other help you and the art form of illustration in general?
KH: Less than a decade ago, you could only discover illustrators through already published work, illustration annuals, or directories like Workbook. The internet, to use a phrase run ragged with clichè, has made the world flatter. The gateway into the professional world, while still locked and patrolled, seems shorter and easier to leap. On the other hand, it also looks like there's hundreds more illustrators out there, with a dozen new ones springing up every day. With all this proliferation, the quality of work is rising too. Oddly, as important as the internet is, I think the desire is still to be printed. There's a certain legitimacy, imagined or real, still associated with being in print. In a way, it's how you know you've made it. How this plays out in the future is anyone's guess.

OA: What's next for teetering bulb?
KH: There's a lot of work coming up, most we don't want to discuss due to a superstition that talking about milk makes it go sour. The only thing I will say is we're doing an illustrated novella with our friend and compatriot of the weird, Adam Lowe. It's called Troglodyte Rose, due out next summer, we're hoping it busts some blocks.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Where is the coolest indie bookstore in your area?
KH: Some would say Spoonbill and Sugartown in Williamsburg, which has some really cool stuff located between the living shelves of hipsters. I'd say the real king though is the oldest, and that would be The Strand, located just south of Union Square. It's as big as a Barnes and Noble, only with better prices and a more motley appearance.

OA: What type of music do you listen to?
KH: From Johnny Cash to (when Zelda isn't around) Slayer. We're really on a kick with a bunch of old eighties New Wave, as well as an amazing new group called IAMX.

For more information on Teetering Bulb please visit their website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Music Tuesday

One For The Team - Build It Up Listen to: Apples (mp3)
Lykke Li - Youth Novels
The Ritz - The Night of Day Listen to: It's The... (mp3)
What Laura Says - Thinks and Feels Listen to: July 23 (mp3)
Stereolab - Chemical Chords
The Stills - Oceans Will Rise
31 Knots - Worried Well Listen to: Compass Commands (mp3)
Caesars - Strawberry Weed
The Dandy Warhols - Earth to the Dandy Warhols
Death Vessel - Nothing is Precious Enough for Us Listen to: Bruno's Torso (mp3)
DJ Faust - Man or Myth? (reissue)
The Duhks - Fast Paced World Listen to: Mighty Storm (mp3)
The Fiery Furnaces - Remember
Jeff Hanson - Madam Owl Listen to: If Only I Knew (mp3)
Jagur Love - Take Me To The Sea Listen to: Bats Over the Pacific Ocean (mp3)
Lee 'Scratch' Perry - Repentance
Psuedosix - Psuedosix
Heavy Heavy Low Low - Turtle Nipple And The Toxic Shock
Makeupbreakup - We Prefer Not To... Listen to: She’s Always X Rated (mp3)


Monday, August 18, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

The Ettes Look At Life Again Soon (Take Root Records, Aug. 12th (digital), Sept. 9th (CD/LP))

"I've got what you need when your eyes get bright..."

Formed in 2004, New York's Poni, Coco, & Jem are The Ettes. Not The Pippettes or The Ronettes, just The Ettes. Loud and aggressive, these three turn up the heat both sonically and sexually. They seem to effortlessly mix raw punk sounds with an attitude of domination and overt flirtiness. Drawing inspiration from bands as far reaching as The Stoggs and The Ramones to Nancy Sinatra and Patsy Cline, they advance the sound and the concept of the female lead singer. Coco stands tall and tells the world exactly what she wants and when she wants it.

Beyond that, The Ettes tour relentlessly and have shared the stage with such acts as Radio Birdman, The Constantines, The New York Dolls, Holly Golightly, and The Black Lips. Lauded by fans and critics alike, The Ettes have created a whole new beat-punk rock-and-roll sound that has been blowing people away from Canada and the States, to the UK and Europe, and everywhere in between.

Listen to: Marathon (mp3)

Dan Provost Weathered Woman (Inkstained Dagger Press, May 2008)

"No, never will humanity ever come back... I don't know if it even existed."

The image of the female has been used, abused, glorified, and worshiped in many different ways over the years. I'm not going to say that Dan Provost hates woman, I feel he really likes woman and the sport of observing them. In fact, he takes a very realistic approach to observing many types of woman; from the overworked to the overweight, from the oversexed to under loved. He sees the hurt and the hurtful. Yet, the most honest observations in this collection come when he talks about the way men look at women. The almost predatory glare from across a bar, the lustful stare fixed to a computer scene, the pointed eyes when you think no one is looking. He's got the grizzle and sizzle, and exposes the bar room thoughts for the world to see.

Through all of this male thought and thoughtlessness Dan also shows a more complex side of women. He illustrates the value and the beauty, the necessity of love, caring, support, and trust. Then he closes it all with the much needed poem about 8 guys and a girl on a web cam. It all comes full circle.

Inkstained Dagger Press is an independent press out of Ohio who just opened their doors this past May. Right out of the gate they released three chaps by John Dorsey, Alex C. Nielsen, and Dan Provost. Dan is the only non-Ohio resident in the mix, but I am glad he was included. Weathered Women was printed in a run of 50 and I have copy #8. $8.00/Inkstained Dagger Press/2413 Collingwood Blvd. Studio 404/Toledo, Ohio 43620/ISDpress @

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

Sometimes when a band is on a major label, like Interscope, I feel like I shouldn't or don't need to talk about them. When I hear their music being played on commercials (Volkswagen), I move their cd to bottom of the list. Yet, every time I listen to this album I can't help but sing and dance, and now yell its praises. London's Noah and The Whale's debut Peaceful, The World Lays Down for Me (Cherrytree Records, 9/16) is honestly an instant classic full of sunshine and walks on the beach (or to the zoo). With impressive singles like "Shape of My Heart" and "5 Years Time", and really not a bad tune among the 12, this complete and impressive debut. So don't let the goofy outfits or the major label scare you off, give these London boys a chance.

Listen to: 5 Years (mp3) (video)

The Chicago duo of Apoc and Rel will release their debut album, The Night of Day, on Aug. 19th. Mixing ground shaking beats with samples from the films of the 40's and 50's, this album is a great contribution to the ever growng Chicago scene. Leading up to the creation of The Night of Day, producer (and occasional rapper) Rel honed his skills behind the boards by producing tracks for local hip-hop Chicago acts such as Elfamail and Moodswangz of Giraffe Nuts, and engineering recording sessions for hip-hop icons like Raekwon, Killah Priest and Pace Won. To compliment Apoc’s striking style, Rel uses a palette that includes classic soul chops, staccato synths, and haunting strings. Rel’s tracks bounce from dark and evocative to soulful and melodic, with snippets from some of the film noir movies that influenced the creation of the album. Also contributing on The Night of Day are fellow Chicagoans Racecar of Modill, and Rhymesayers recording artist Psalm One, as well as cuts performed by battle veteran DJ Onceamonth. This album perfect for rolling down the windows and getting strange looks from the neighbors.

Listen to: It's The... (mp3)

On Sept. 16th Athens band The Dead Confederate will release their debut full-length album, Wrecking Ball. They've already shared the stage with R.E.M. (at a lauded 2008 SXSW appearance), Dinosaur Jr., Drive By Truckers, the Black Angels, Deerhunter and Black Lips and are looking forward to tossing aside their day jobs (everything from catering to construction) to get back into their live groove this summer.

08.22.08 – Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA
09.11.08 – Exit/In – Nashville, TN
09.12.08 – Sky City – Augusta, GA
09.18.08 – The Hummingbird – Macon, GA
09.19.08 – 40 Watt – Athens, GA
09.20.08 – The Earl – Atlanta, GA
09.23.08 – JJ’s Bohemia – Chattanooga, TN
09.24.08 – The Bottletree – Birmingham, AL
09.25.08 – Sticky Fingerz – Little Rock, AR
09.26.08 – Emo's – Austin, TX
09.27.08 – The Cavern – Dallas, TX
09.29.08 – The Bluebird – St. Louis, MO
09.30.08 - Jackpot Music Hall - Lawrence, KS
10.01.08 – The Waiting Room – Omaha, NE
10.02.08 – The Annex – Madison, WI
10.03.08 – Mo's Irish Pub – Milwaukee, WI
10.04.08 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
10.07.08 – TT the Bears – Cambridge, MA
10.09.09 – Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
10.10.08 – Union Hall – Brooklyn, NY
10.14.08 – Cat's Cradle – Carrboro, NC
10.16.08 – Exit/In – Nashville, TN
10.17.08 – Proud Larry's – Oxford, MS
10.25.08 – Voodoo Experience – New Orleans, LA
Listen to: The Rat (mp3)

The Mojomatics are an Italian duo bringing their hybrid brand of punk and blues to the states. Don’t Pretend That You Know Me is this bands third album, but their first on Italy's Ghost Records and will be released on Sept. 23rd. MojoMatt (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and DavMatic(drums, percussion) came together in 2003, and they are guaranteed to excite even the toughtest critic this fall.

Listen to: Wait A While (mp3) (video)

Lightning Beatman & His No Talent are set to reissue a great album called Wrestling Rock 'N' Roll which was originally released in 1994. Clearly blending rock, blues, and mexican wrestling, this album refreshing, hillarious, and rocking every inch. Here is the story he has to tell: "As Young 13 year old Beat-Man (born. Beat Zeller) he started experimenting with his 4 Track machine, first under the Name Taeb Zerfall (1985) , then in 1992 after a Longer US Trip and inspired by Mexican Wretling in Los Angeles under the Name Lightning Beat-Man, back then the main theme was: “I FIGHT ON STAGE AGAINST ME AND MY GUITAR AND BEAT THE S**T OUT OF IT AND WIN EVERY NIGHT” the Rawness and Directness of the Recordings are Unbeatable for the Time it came out, it Was the time when Techno and DJ’s totally took over everything and there was absolutely no Space for Trash at all.. when the Record came out it didn’t sell lot and the critics where very bad in the beginning also for the Live shows (the theme of the live shows where, play as Bad ,F**ked Up and Drunk as possible) but after a while came Touring in Europe and Shows together with the Ramones, Dick Dale , Prince, Fireworks Dead Moon and many more (almost 250 shows a year) and his Own Little Show on VIVA and MTV where he travels Around the US with a Wrestling Mask and interviewing People and Visiting Graveyards of Dead Rock’n’roll Artists, and the 2nd Album (Apartment Wrestling Rock’n’Roll- voodoo rhythm) who came on the Marked like a Atomic Explosion and as well made this 1st Album as a Collectors item, so we thought to give it to the People again together with 3 Outstanding Noisy Trashed out Bonus Tracks, and yea the Whole Album and Recordings are as Fresh as they would be made today.. the only problem is a Ground Noise that the Tascam Tape Deck had while recording.. but that’s how it is if you Record in a LOW BUDGET WAY."

Listen to: I Wanna Be Your Pussycat (mp3)

The Peel Back: Shakeyface Puddle Jumping During a Monsoon (Quartermass/Forced Exposure, April 29th, 2002)

Brooklyn downtempo hip hop producer Shakeyface (a.k.a. Doug Smiley) made a few waves with his 2002 debut, and completely caught me by surprise. I fell in love with the way he could wrap one style into one another, and create a beautiful blanket of sound. A blanket that would keep you warm and gently rock you to sleep. The highlight of the album for me was a track called "Helpless" with its raining piano keys and steady beats. It was heartbreaking and beautiful much like the rest of the album.

Shakeyface continued to DJ in local clubs while working on the follow-up 2006's Bicycle Day Boogaloo, perfecting his style and finding new beats. Just yesterday I received an e-mail from Shakeyface and here is the latest:

Hello, Shakeyface here with a quick message. I've been deep up in the lab working on some new gems, following up on the last album "Bicycle Day Boogaloo".

Let's just toss out a few musical reference points - A sonic menage a trois with Daft Punk, Aphex Twin and Ace of Bass in a bubble bath...Rappers moonlighting in a barbershop quartet... Beats exploding like fireworks in your head.

Sounds incredible to me. He also sent this little rework.

Goons & Goblins (A Milli) - Shakeyface vs. Weezy (mp3)

Puddle Jumping During a Monsoon
Helpless (mp3)/Damy Beta/Crazy, Crazy Like a Fox/Aheadbehind/Divided/Fishing for Swords/Puddle Jumping During a Monsoon

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Watch List

1. The Mint Chicks!: I received the strangest e-mail from a pr person this week. All it had was a subject line that said "The Mint Chicks!". Nothing else, no info or links, a blank message. So, I will not give you any information, I will just say... The Mint Chicks!
2. Fig Leaves: London is home to this genre bender. Deep dark electronic merge with sleazy rock n' roll to sound the is complex and intense. Listen to: Kissed (mp3)
3. Miracles of Modern Science: MOMS is from Brooklyn and they are going to be huge! They have such a big and beautiful sound mixing mandolin, violin, cello, stand up bass, and drums.

1. Man-2 by Tobias Amadon Bengelsdorf: A tale of accidents and the shifting of blame.
2. All of No Man's Land is Ours by Jill Summers: A wonderfully written story that is currently featured over at Gaper's Block.
3. The Program by Julie Andrijeski: "I vomited a little in my mouth." You can't go wrong with a line like that.
4. The Meaning of Life by Daniel Hudon: Just to know that someone else may know the meaning is meaning enough.
5. Son, You Will Bear More Than My Memory by Carrie Meadows: Very interesting tale of Japanesse culture.
6. Missing by Marcia Aldrich: Stolen underwear and chocolaty goodness.
7. Eight Times in the Everywhere by Gabe Durham: A great cop story!

1. Memory Hair by Richard Leck : From Words Like Kudzu Press this chap is very well design and only $5. More to come in the weeks ahead.
2. The "Big Money Hustle" series by MAD available at Formula Werks.

Getting: (The Website Edition)
1. Vulgar Picture: An illustrated discography of The Smiths.
2. Covers: A site that displays only the most attractive book covers.
3. Illustration Promo: Sometimes the business cards or postcards of an artists are as well-designed as their work.
4. Does it Offend You, Yeah?: Vocoder Video Game

1. The Ritz video for "Langston Bukowski"
2. Black Kids video for "Look at Me (When I Rock Whicoo)"
3. Bowerbirds video for "In Our Talons". Check out the clever comparison by Gabe Durham.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Band of the Week


"I tried to express that true Chicago soul sound and natural feeling."

When you open the debut album, Neighborhood Suicide, by Chicago producer Radius (a.k.a. Ramon Norwood) you are not only get an album full extremely creative beats, but you are met with one man's view of and life in Chicago. Each song is named after a different neighborhood from Hyde Park to Logan Square to Bucktown, Radius pays tribute to the city he loves. In fact he doesn't stop there, for every track he has written a short narrative telling the listener about the track and his life. The entire package is a little over whelming, but a rewarding read.

Neighborhood Suicide, was release by the local label The Secret Life of Sounds on May 6th. However, it has not received the attention that it deserves. With a few Chicago hip hop names are exploding, we have to remember to dig a little deeper, listen a little harder, and find something new.

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

Orange Alert (OA): What is the history behind the name Radius?
Ramon Norwood (RN): Started as a graffiti name/bboy alias, when I really started to get into hiphop beyond just listening to rap in my early high school days those are the elements I was most interested in, especially with breaking. I started buying records and became Dj Radius. I knew that you couldn't have a circle without having Radius, and hiphop, which is all about the cipher/circle and building and destroying within that circle was key so I wanted to represent that with whatever I did and standout at all times.

OA: The liner notes to your debut album, Neighborhood Suicide, read like a biography spanning your lifetime. When did you decide to write such intimate narratives for each song? How long did you work on this album?
RN: The album took 2 years off and on…I started tracks in late 2006 and worked on some other things and went back in 2007, then when The label agreed to put it out, I went back in really early this year and finished it up. The liner notes I worked on during my road trip helping a friend move in January of this year to L.A. while I was in Colorado, when I came back home(to Chicago) I typed the final details.

OA: Your album was released on The Secret Life of Sound label. How was your experience with them?
RN: All positive, it has been a learning experience, but Im grateful for it all, no complaints, we see eye to eye on many things, so all good.

OA: Right now we seem to be in a prime time for Chicago hip-hop. What are your thoughts on all of the excitement surrounding the scene?
RN: I have mixed feelings, Im excited about a lot of attention shining in Chicago's direction, I feel the scene (however many scenes or whatever that scene is) needs that light. We are long overdue here, some have gotten on forsure and I congratulate them. There are alot of us also who work really hard and wonder when/where and if we should stay here or move elsewhere and if our time is coming or if we will ever get that "community" and support we feel we too deserve. A lot of times due to multiple genre labeling, categorizing and lack of label, venue and media support it makes it harder for certain acts to shine in that light.

OA: You had your PR photos taken by Constance K. How did you find out about her? What was it like working with her?
RN: We actually found each other, that's my homie, she's one of a kind…I love her and we go way back to The Illinois Institute of Art College days, It was a nobrainer to reach out to her because I have always appreciated her work and her overall spirit. Working with her was fresh air because we were on the same page from the get go.

OA: What's next for Radius?
RN: To get better, and stronger and more one with music, when my finances getup Im gonna take some instrument lessons. I have a project with no set date with Consumers Research and Development label scheduled for this year called "PI"and am interested in starting or becoming part of a band if anyone is down. Do some remixes and hopefully sell some beats too (hint hint)…Just wanna grow as much as possible within music.

Bonus Questions:

OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in the city?
RN: I am not a fan of coffee at all, probably due to being a starbucks slave for almost 5 years, haha… but love tea (especially Yogi Tea and Mighty Leaf) and you can find the best cup at my apt anyday.

OA: What are your top five albums of all-time?
RN: Super tough question, impossible to narrow that down but real quick off my head Slum Village: Fantastic Vol 2, Stevie Wonder: Innervisions, Ghostface Killa: Ironman, Radiohead: Kid A/Amnesiac, Fela Kuti: Expensive Shit/He Miss Road

Listen to:
Logan Square (Rent's Due) (mp3)
Englewood (Necessary Growth) (mp3)
krapedyh (an exclusive remix of Hyde Park) (mp3)

For more information on Radius please visit his website and check out his myspace for the latest information. Radius will be performing tonight @ The Darkroom as part of Drummer vs. Technician.