Monday, September 29, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Hosho McCreesh For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things So Uselessly & Carelessly Destroyed... (sunnyoutside, Sept 18th, 2008)

"I simply cannot believe that we are supposed to be so callous, so pitiless."

There is a certain level rage in the lines of Hosho McCreesh's seventh collection of poems. The word rage typically has a negative connotation, but in the case of the lines found in For All These Wretched, Beautiful, & Insignificant Things..., the rage seems rational and justified. I believe I've heard it said that "justified rage is better than misguided anger". Regardless, Hosho takes a long and focused look at reality and sinks his literary teeth into the injustices that abound.

"The simple fact is that most of the all of this is pretty hard to get away from."

His approach is not of the holier than thou variety, he himself is not above reproach. He has simply presented a collection of thoughts and perceptions that are on the attack and not resting until they are heard. In a world currently filled with injustice, misdirection, deception, diversion, and deceit, it is a marvel that this collection is not a thousand pages long. For that matter McCreesh has shown considerable restraint and perhaps saved a bigger blow at a later date.

Fight Bite Emerald Eyes (Self-Released, October 28th, 3008)

If I was to ever start a band I wouldn't move to LA or Seattle or even stay here in Chicago. I would want to be in one of three places, Brooklyn, Portland, or especially Denton, TX. Denton is home to many young and inventive bands, and among them is a duo known as Fight Bite. On their debut album Emerald Eyes, Jeff Louis and Leanne Macomber have found the perfect blend of haunting melodies and other worldly snyths. It's as if Enya was trapped inside a haunted house and was being forced to sing for her release.

Formed in late 2007, Leanne had already amassed a songbook of lyrics, but was in search of someone to bring her songs to life. Who she found was mirco composer Jeff Louis. To create his thick walls of sound Louis shreds tape-after-tape on an old 8-track, and the results are beautifully reverb-drenched melodic compositions. These is a massive sound that floats and moves and slowly creeps throughout each composition, but without losing the romance and melody. With songs like Swissex Lover (released as a seven inch) and Widow's Peak, they are bound to haunt, woo, lull, and draw you into their sonic world.

The Accident/Never Let Go/Swiss Ex-Lover/Widow's Peak (mp3)/Emerald Eyes/Age Of Faith/Small Wonder/Dorthea/Strings/Spring Rain

Paint the Town Orange

September 11th, 2008 - The Living Room, NYC - Greg Laswell
Review and Images by Dominick Mastrangelo

If there's a venue that's more suited for a storyteller-like setting than the Living Room in my Manhattan's Lower East Side I've yet to find it. Playing to that cozy scenario was San Diego singer-songwriter Greg Laswell who told (among other things) humorous stories about shaving and MySpace during an hour-long semi-stripped down set.

Moving from guitar to piano and with Brandon Walters on guitar and Chris Kuffner on bass, Laswell opened at the piano with the excellent "What A Day" from his How the Day Sounds EP. Laswell's songs are all about missed connections, getting away and most prominently love lost and the recovery period that follows. He made a joke before playing the single for his new record Three Flights From Alto Nido, "How The Day Sounds" that he can write a happy song. But as his retooled take on the Cyndi Lauper girl-power anthem "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" proved, no song, no matter how uplifting, is safe from becoming a rainy day ballad.

Ingrid Michaelson came up to sing on "Do What I Can" from Laswell's previous record Through Toledo. Laswell closed by himself on the piano playing the heartbreaking "High And Low" saying before "I'm in a much better place than when I wrote this song." His gravelly baritone struggled a bit on the higher notes due to a lingering cold but it added even more emotion as he confessed toward the song's end, " And I do."

For more photos from this concert and all of the others that Dominick has cover please visit his flickr page.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

There is nothing normal about the music of Mt. Sims. From their start in 2000, they have played dark hyper-sexual dance music with a tinge of political satire. They have released two such electro-pop albums, and now they have returned but a few things have changed. After releasing a second album Wild Light and touring extensively throughout Europe as a three-piece band (as opposed to a performance art piece as was the case with Ultrasex) Sims decided on breaking the band up and relocating to Berlin, Germany. It is here that Sims began working on the new incarnation of the band with Randy Twigg on bass, Andre Lange on drums, and Thomas Stern of Crime and The City Solution at the behind the sound and production. A long-distance friendship between Sims and Hungry Eye Records (New York City/ Montreal, home of The Bellmer Dolls, Sixteens, The Holy Kiss) led to a collaboration and the release of a limited 12”, the A Grave EP, and now the third full length, Happily Ever After (Oct. 21st). This album is darker and more aggressive, and is sure to be a hit at all of the Halloween parties.

Listen to: The Bitten Bite Back (mp3)

How do you follow-up a successful debut album? Well, Florida's Look Mexico made a few line-up changes and produced a surprising follow-up EP, Gasp Asp. While Matt Agrella’s vocals have remained the same, powerful yet restrained, his songwriting has matured and become more focused. As with many ep's Gasp Asp leaves you wanting more, and having to wait for their second full-length album.

Listen to: You're Not Afraid of the Dark (mp3)

In the spirit of the record club resurgence, Mexican Summer finds a cozy spot at the forefront alongside fellow labels Sub Pop and Merge (talk about great company!) Launched in September of 2008, Mexican Summer releases will all be pressed in very limited quantities and will also be available for download, bringing a musical and visual experience to music lovers and collectors that want more than just a tune to consume.

One of the exciting aspects of the club is that it gives fans an opportunity to receive vinyl on a subscription basis (at a discount to purchasing at retail) and at a select group of exclusive indie retailers across the country. 2-3 albums will be released every other month in various formats (12", 7", Picture Disc, etc) and all records will be beautifully packaged, hand numbered, pressed on high quality virgin vinyl and include a download card. There will also be bonus gifts available only to members which include slip mats, tote bags, and many more stylish treats. Subscriptions are available via the Mexican Summer website. With bands like Dungen, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and Marissa Nadler involved don't miss out!

The Portland, Oregon duo of Kevin O'Connor and Lisa Molinaro (aka Talkdemonic) have been playing together since 2003; she plays the viola and he plays everything else, including, but not limited to: drums, synths, and acoustic instruments. The result is an intoxicating blend of symphonic strings, explosive percussion, and achingly beautiful music. Their melodies soar and roll and bounce through your speakers. With incredibly big beats, Eyes At Half Mast (Arena Rock) was just released on the 16th. This is powerful, driving music that speaks volumes and tells grand stories without a single spoken word. Talkdemonic will be opening for Born Ruffins here in Chicago at Schubas on Oct. 7th.

Listen to: March Movement (mp3)

This week Columbia Records announced the U.S. premiere of the Bob Dylan song “Mississippi”, exclusively available as a free download for a limited time on “Mississippi”, previously unreleased domestically in this form, will be commercially available on October 7, 2008 as part of Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs - The Bootleg Series Vol. 8. Originally recorded for the Grammy Award-winning Time Out of Mind album in 1997, a drastically different rendering of “Mississippi” finally made its appearance on 2001’s “Love and Theft”. The version found on Tell Tale Signs, likely one of the first takes of the song recorded, can be described as stripped-down and soulful, and features producer Daniel Lanois on electric guitar. Bob Dylan's Tell Tale Signs is the 8th installment in the best-selling and critically lauded Bootleg Series which launched in 1991. Available in 2-CD and 3-CD deluxe formats, Tell Tale Signs features previously unreleased recordings and alternate versions of tracks from sessions which generated some of Bob Dylan's most acclaimed and commercially successful albums from the last two decades, including Time Out Of Mind, “Love And Theft”, Modern Times and Oh Mercy.

Medeski Martin & Wood have never been your typical band. Creativity has led their career and their music always stays unique. Now, the restlessly inventive improvising trio Medeski Martin & Wood are set to embark on an ingenious new experiment dubbed The Radiolarian Series.

The Radiolarian Series - named after a type of single-celled organism with dazzlingly intricate exoskeletons - is designed to subvert the age-old music industry cycle of write/record/tour. The trio, consisting of keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood, will convene for brief writing retreats, perform only that new material on tour, record the material immediately after getting off the road, and release it as an album on their own Indirecto label.

The process will be repeated three times, resulting in three albums - the first of which, Radiolarians I, will be in stores on September 30th.

Listen to: Free Go Lily (mp3)

Buffetlibre Dj's have launched a very interesting remix project. Interesting in that they will not be doing the remixes, but the fans will be taking parts of songs a splicing them together. You will be able to download isolated audio from many songs, then splice and mix it! Proyecto Batidora is offering the separated parts for the following artists: Cut Copy, Yelle, Rumble Strips, The Bravery, Dragonette, Holy F**k, Walter Meego, Why?, Tokyo Police Club, Ladyhawke, Metronomy, Styrofoam, The Loose Cannons, Pop Levi, The Go! Team, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Munk, Totally Michael, Pacific!, The Touch, Pomomofo, Shitdisco, Das Pop, Mintzkov, Voxtrot, Sidechains, The Amplid, Octopus Project, Tokyo Police Club, The Whip, Sunny Day Sets Fire, Infadels, Saint Bernadette and Mark Mallman. Just request the parts and they will send them to you. At the end they will compile the best mixes into a mixtape. Check it out!

The Peel Back: Buckshot Lefonque Buckshot Lefonque (Columbia Records, July 1994)

If Digable Planets hadn't already drop an album a year earlier, and Gang Starr hadn't been played a jazz and hip-hop hybrid for years, then Buckshot may have innovators. As it was Branford Marsalis, Dj Premier, Roy Hargrove, and the rest took what was a budding style of music and completely conquered it. On their debut album songs like " I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and "Breakfast at Denny's" not only advanced the genres of hip hop and jazz, but they also sent a message of oppression and frustration. A message that may be lost at times in the more aggressive rap songs. Here the laidback approach of the music allows the words, spoken, sung, or rapped, to ring with vibrance and clarity. It doesn't hurt that the words spoken in "Caged Bird" come from the mind and mouth of Maya Angelou.
When taken as a whole this album transcended the cheesy trappings of most acid jazz albums and found a more widespread audience then the average hip hop album in 1994. Marsalis had a plan and method for a delivering a solid product, and that is exactly what he did.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Presenting.../Blackwidow Blues/I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings/Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters/Wonders and Signs (mp3)/Ain't It Funny/Some Cow Fonique (More Tea, Vigar?)/Some Sh*t at 78 BPM (The Scratch Opera)/Hotter Than Hot/Breakfast at Denny's (mp3)/Shoot the Piano Player/No Pain, No Gain /Sorry, Elton/...And We Out

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Watch List

1. Shiloe: Relesing their new EP ...And Now the Screaming Starts on Oct. 14th, LA's Shiloe play a furious brand of power pop. Listen to: Gone (mp3)
2. Generifus: This past June, Spencer Sult (aka Generifus) traveled to Anacortes, WA to record and album with my favorite Anacortes musician Karl Blau. The album, Solstice Songs, will be available through Bicycle Records. However, you can order a copy through his myspace now.
3. Mystery of Two: This Cleveland trio recently released a digital seven inch, Gravity, and are now recording a new full-length album. They are drawing a lot positive buzz and they are on my favorite Cleveland label Exit Stencil. Listen to: Desolate (from Arrows Are All You Know, 2007) (mp3)

1. Ten Minutes in a Library by Kenneth Pobo: Jesus defends Orwell and expresses his love for Bette Davis.
2. Set Sail by Aleathia Drehmer: Short but sweat!
3. Snow by Hardy Jones: The Winter Games can have that affect on people.
4. Gloom Cupboard Issue #59: Several great pieces in this issue, especially "to die" by John Grochalski
5. Strewn About the Days by William Taylor Jr: I love William's work, and have had his name on my list for along time!
6. Cowboy by David E. Oprava: This taken for David's full-length collection, VS. due in October. Check back for my interview with David to be posted on Oct. 9th.
7. Japanese Children with Digital Cameras in a Field by Tao Lin and Ellen Kennedy: This story has it all, Cannibalistic Japanese babies, green lobster suits, Nintendo Duck Hunt, The Prime Minister, and more.

1. "ZAUM AS A SECOND LANGUAGE" Ugly Duckling Press T-Shirts
2. Field Notes Memo Books: Very nice little books to record anything.
3. Gloom Cupboard Issue #4: Justin Hyde, Misti Rainwater-Lites, and more!

1. A behind scenes look at Brian Dettmer's Studio.
2.MP3's: C. Robin Madigan - "Margaret Tweedstitcher" (mp3) and Walter Meego - "Forever (Van She Remix)" (mp3)
3. To judge a book by it's cover: Check out!

1. Crystal Antlers in Seattle on 9/11
2. Aviary Ghost "The Brain Is A House"
3. Jed Perl on Watteau from the new Barnes & Noble Review Gallery
4. Theresa Andersson "Birds Fly Away"
5. The KnuX - "Bang Bang"
6. Serious Literature

Friday, September 26, 2008

Band of the Week

Zoos of Berlin

What is the most important part of starting a band? Is it finding the right band members or finding the right sound or the right look? No, the most important part of forming a band is picking a name. It has to be catchy and cleaver, but it can't seem like you tried to hard. Lately, it seems like it should include some sort of an animal, preferably a wolf or a bear, something fierce. After you have picked the animal then you need to match it with something wild and unknown. Many people have chosen to match it with the Sea (i.e. Sea Wolf or Seabear), others have chosen other animals (i.e. Panda Bear), and then you have events or places (i.e. Wolf Parade). You can also add body parts (i.e. Frog Eyes, Wolf Eyes, etc), it is really pretty simple.

When a new band formed in Detroit, Daniel Clark and Trevor Naud (of Pas/Cal) had to settle on a band name. They threw out animal names, "Sea Dog", "Snake Ear", "Rabbit Creek", and so on. Since they couldn't settle on any one animal they picked Zoo. They couldn't simply be called Zoo, so they needed an event or body part or place. They were almost called Zoo Eyes, until they saw a poster for the Berlin Circus and Zoos of Berlin were born. Ok, maybe it didn't happen that way, but regardless ZOB has released an a three song EP that shows a great deal of promise and style.

Recently Will, Trevor, and Daniel were kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): First of all, the name. Most names don't have too big of a story behind them, but where did Zoos of Berlin come from?
Trevor Naud (TN): Daniel and I sat down at Cafe du Monde in Royal Oak, MI for coffee and cigarettes. With a list of over 100 band names, we shaved it down to "Taxis" and "Zoos of Berlin." The latter was picked. No real meaning...
Daniel Clark (DC): The first word in our name may have been inspired by the Peter Greenaway film A Zed and Two Noughts.

OA: Your debut ep was self-released, but still you have managed to create a decent amount of buzz. Do you feel it necessary for a band to be on a label? What might a label offer that you can't do on your own?
Will Yates (WY): I don't think it's necessary for a band to be on a label, but I do think in general it's helpful. It's one of those things: there are a few bands who will find great success on their own, but most bands would ultimately be helped by having a label. For me, the most important things that a label could offer are the intangibles: recognition and connections. If you're a relatively unknown band that gets picked up by a label with name recognition, you go from being one of the thousands of unheard-of bands that are out there to the new band on Label X. And then (hopefully) Label X will work the connections it has with various players in the music business (press, licensing, booking, etc.) to benefit your band. You may never have gotten the ear of those players without being signed by Label X.

OA: Speaking of buzz, do you value the support of on-line media? Do you feel blogs translate to fans, concert attendance, and sales?
WY: I do value the support of online media: I've spent many, many hours emailing blogs about our EP, for example. It's not always the case that these blogs have a lot of readers, but I think enough of the right people are reading, and those people can help a band get to the next level. For instance, my guess is that most of the people that have bought the Black Kids album never read or were even aware of the early blog buzz they got, but as an indirect result of that blog buzz, Black Kids now enjoys greatly increased numbers of fans, concert attendance and sales.

OA: I really enjoy the artistic direction the band seems to be taking with the cover design of the ep and press release. How important to the band is the overall artistic appearance?
WY: Very important. We're lucky enough to have a talented visual artist (Trevor) in our band to work on these things; it allows us to have that consistency. The art Trevor does helps to give us an air of mystery, which is nice.

OA: What is the music scene like in Detroit? What is your connection to Carl Craig?
WY: I'm proud of the abundance of talent we have in the Michigan music scene, and I'm glad that the musicians are such nice people to boot. Our drummer Collin works full-time as Carl Craig's recording engineer. Carl has been very kind to us, letting us do some recording in his studio and asking us to collaborate with him on a song for the tribute album Life Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered.

OA: What's next for Zoos of Berlin?
WY: We're hard at work on our debut full-length. For six weeks we rented out a 5,000 square foot room in a gigantic former factory in Detroit called the Russell Industrial Center, and we recorded the bulk of the album there. Now we're finishing up the last loose ends of recording and beginning the mixing stage. As with our resident visual artist Trevor, we're lucky enough to have a talented and accomplished recording engineer (Collin) in our band, which allows us the luxury of recording and mixing an album by ourselves, in our own time frame, exactly as we want it. We're very excited about how the end result will sound.

Bonus Questions:
OA: What was the last great book that you have read?
WY: I'm afraid that I've been so wrapped up in music and the other goings-on of my life that I'm only on my second book of 2008. The last book I finished was Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle; I would say it's pretty great. It's a history of the life and murder trial of Ossian Sweet, a black doctor who moved into an all-white neighborhood in Detroit in the 1920s. (His house was 10 blocks from the house I grew up in.) Upon moving in, he quickly attracted a violent mob; shots were fired from inside his house and a white man was killed on the street. Ossian and several others who were in the house with him were tried for murder. It was a big case at the time; Clarence Darrow was on the defense team.

OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Detroit?
WY: I can't speak to the question of where to find the best cup of coffee in Detroit, but our bassist/vocalist Daniel is a passionate devotee of Starbucks.

For more information on Zoos of Berlin please visit their website.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Chris Killen

It's a great time to be a writer. In fact it is a great to do anything artistic and creative. First, you really didn't plan to make a tremendous amount of money so the economic concerns are not affecting you in any way. Second, there are communities and outlets and research and places to sell and places to buy all over the internet. You can blog, you can create a website just for your book, you can instantly submit pieces all over the world, and you don't have to step too far outside your daily box. Now more than ever, the writer has the ability to share their words and thoughts with the world.

Manchester’s Chris Killen is brilliant young writer with a novel due from Canongate Books in January. However, if it wasn’t for his blog, his clever video, his homemade and self-distributed chapbooks, I would have never found his work. In fact, Chris contributes to several blogs, and comments on many others. One of the chapbooks he has created this year is a story about Paul Simon, his deep loneliness and dreams of being in the band Yo La Tengo. It is hilarious and at times touching, a great sample of his writing, and something he mailed out for free. The idea is that through a series of small acts you can build a network of friends and fans, and hopefully when the time is right (January 2009) have an audience for your work.

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

Orange Alert (OA): You debut novel, The Bird Room, is being released in January by Canongate Books. What can you tell us about your novel?
Chris Killen (CK): It’s quite short, but somehow it stretches out to 200 pages. The font is nice-looking and medium sized. Most people I know who’ve read it read it in about 2 hours or so. It’s about a relationship falling apart, due to jealousy and paranoia. It has a bit of internet porn in it. It’s aimed at ‘young people’, maybe. Joe Swanberg has read a copy.

OA: The cover is quite attractive. How much input did you have in the design process?
CK: Not that much. Well, nothing really. I actually didn’t like the cover when it was first emailed to me. I was surprised at how ‘slick’ and ‘sexy’ and ‘photographic’ it was. The designer, gray318, did things like Everything is Illuminated – that black and white text design – and the Faber Jonathan Lethem covers, so I was expecting something more text-based, I guess something a bit more ‘odd’ looking. But when I received the proof copies and held one in my hand, I liked it a lot more. It’s grown on me. I won’t cringe when I see it on the shelves.

OA: I really enjoyed your chapbook "Paul Simon", and it seems to have made a little splash. Are there any plans to reprint it or have it published?
CK: Thanks. ‘Paul Simon’ is currently under consideration by a medium-sized UK literary magazine called Succour. If they don’t want it, I might try and submit it somewhere else, or do another free edition myself. Maybe just put it online. People seem to like it a lot. My other idea was to do an ‘audio book’, with crappy keyboard cover versions of the songs off Graceland between the chapters. And then just give them out as CDRs.

OA: There seems to be a community of writers/bloggers forming that all appreciate each others writing, but have never met each other. Do you feel writers are connecting and sharing ideas and stories in ways that had yet to be fully utilized? Do you value the ability to connect with a writer from London and a writer Boston all in a matter of seconds?
CK: Do you mean, ‘Do I think something else about to happen’? It sort of always feels like it is, like the writers I like who all link to each other are going to publish books, soon, hopefully. Well, a lot of them have now or are due to. I don’t know. For me, it goes through waves of ‘excitement’ and then waves of ‘hopelessness’. I’ve sort of unintentionally dropped out of that stuff for a bit. I don’t know why. I’ve not been enjoying going online as much recently. I’ve not been commenting on other people’s blogs, really, or sending as many emails. I feel a small amount of panic, usually, as my inbox is loading. But yeah, it is really good to have the opportunity to make quick, easy contact with writers I’d never normally meet or have heard of, you know, without the internet. You can find out about someone’s stuff easier, and get a better idea of them and their work, than if, say, you just read one story in a print magazine and that was that. I’m not sure if that answered the first bit of your question, though. I’m not sure what else could happen apart from books published.

OA: Word Association: Give me a word or phrase
CK: Tao Lin – ‘Single’
Zachary German – ‘Single’
Colin Bassett – ‘In a relationship?’
Sam Pink – ‘Single’
The Bird Room – ‘January’
Ellen Kennedy – ‘Single?’

OA: What's next for Chris Killen?
CK: A second novel, which is coming along, but very slowly. I’d like to have the first draft done by the end of the year. It has awkward teenagers and spontaneous combustion in it. It’s set in 1992. Apart from that, more short stories. I don’t know. A tattoo, maybe. A roomy, reasonably-priced flat with a plastic human-shaped clothes model in it. Fairy lights. A clean bathroom. Someone to walk around a park with, holding hands. That is my ‘wish list’.

Bonus Questions:
OA: It's been said you have musical aspirations. What type of music do you enjoy, and who are a few of your favorites?
CK: Right now I’m waiting for recorded music by Witchies, which is Chad Jones and Nadia Moss’ (Frankie Sparo) new band. I think once there’s recorded music by Witchies, they will become my ‘all-time favourite band of all time’. In the meantime: Frankie Sparo, Les Savy Fav, The Shins, The Smiths, Wolf Parade. Just the usual ‘indie rock’ things, I guess. I like Bruce Springsteen, too.

OA: Why cats? Why is the first thing I see on a blog called "day of moustaches" a cat and not a moustache?
CK: I don’t know. I just like cats a lot. I think if I was going to start my blog now, I’d call it something different, but probably not anything cat-based either. I think cats just seem funny to me; they’re so serious-looking. I find that very ‘endearing’ and ‘amusing’.

For more information on Chris Killen you can visit his blog, and for more information on The Bird Room go to

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Artist of the Week

Ellen Priest

By nature paint has a certain movement to it, but some artists allow the paint to move more then others. Some choose to apply the paint in a specific way while others may move the canvas in a certain way. However, artist Ellen Priest has a very different approaches to the concept of movement. Hers is a technique that mixes jazz music and the layering of music inspired brush studies. That's right Jazz music, and if you are looking for movement then Jazz is really where you should turn. Ellen prefers to work more with jazz suites like with her current pieces based on "Venezuelan Suite" by Edward Simon, but I imagine this would work with any type of Jazz and any type of music for that matter. Ellen has been working exclusively with Jazz since 1990, an
The process of creating a particular piece actually begins with a series of other pieces, or brush studies. When you visit Ellen's site you can actually see how these pieces are put together like a puzzle and then retraced to make the finished work. The deep and texture needs to be studied in person, but hopefully we can give you a taste right here.

Recently, Ellen took some time away from submitting her application for a Guggenheim Fellowship to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
Ellen Priest (EP): My paintings are abstract, made of superimposed layers of paper. My visual language shows the influence of Abstract Expressionism, among other sources. You can see it in the marks I use, and the way I apply paint. At their best my paintings embody a translucent, multi-layered space, sometimes open, sometimes dense, depending on the specific musical subject matter, full of color and light. The standard building blocks for physically making my layered, collaged pictures are papers of varying opacities, saturated colors painted with oil or flashe, and pencil-drawn lines. The translucent papers and oil paint allow one to see, quite literally, a painting through a painting.

OA: What is it specifically about Jazz that you find so inspiring?
EP: Jazz is a musical counterpart to the visual experience I try to set up in my work. It evokes in me what I want to express in my paintings, functioning much like a mountain panorama for a landscape painter. The jazz that attracts me is full of joy and energy, able to transform sadness.

OA: Is there a particular type of Jazz or period of Jazz that you prefer to work with?
EP: I listen to all sorts of jazz and Latin music, also African. I enjoy both the classics like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, and contemporary jazz. I gravitate toward piano and saxophone. The piano carries melody, harmony and percussion all together, and the sax has a certain “bite” and many rich voices. I also seem to select composer/performers playing their own music Edward Simon, Geri Allen, Branford Marsalis, Danilo Perez, Chris Potter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne
Shorter, and Chick Corea are some of my favorites. I love African and Latin American music because it deepens my sense of rhythm, keeps me fresh, especially when musicians come from those traditions into jazz -- Lionel Loueke for example.

OA: Your process of layering seems unique to me. How did you first come to work this way?
EP: This may be a LOT longer than you want, but it’s my best answer to this frequent question written several years ago:
My desire to try layering a picture grew from two sources. The first was artistic. In the late 1970s, I read Harold Rosenberg’s monograph about Willem de Kooning, who made ink drawings on trace and moved them around on top of each other to find new shapes for his paintings. I was intrigued, made some still-life drawings, and found that I liked the stacked drawings on their own merit layered pictures with shapes of varying clarity.
The second source was experiential. One November, after a horrible period in my personal life, I was driving a familiar turnpike in Connecticut and realized the trees were brown. I had missed the entire fall – all the gorgeous colors and crispness – preoccupied by unhappy events.
An insight flashed. I had seen so many gorgeous falls along that stretch of road that I could substitute a “photograph” from my memory – a transparent overlay of saturated fall colors on a bright blue day superimposed over the brown. Limitless other overlays then came to mind: political events I’d heard on the news as I drove, summer colors, windy days with those rich edgy feelings they carry, temperatures and smells, religious and emotional experiences, memories of friends I’d ridden with, papers I’d composed while driving in grad school.
I realized something else. We constantly have that experience of a clear, simple visual subject – a mountain, a dog, my fall panorama, a lunchbox – giving way to the rich layers of our memory, our symbolic thinking, our physical sensations, etc., then just as magically dissolving, taking us back to the clear, simple visual subject in front of us. Thus, layering occurs naturally in our minds.

OA: Do you have a set color pallet that you work with or does it all depend on the piece of music?
EP: Color is a direct, intuitive response to a specific jazz composition. The palette in each series is somewhat different, though I do have certain “habits,” like using black and white as colors. I
keep my colors clear, not grayed down.

OA: Giving the the various elements of your work do you feel that the on-line gallery or portfolio really serves its purpose? How do you feel the internet has impacted your work and visibility in general?
EP: I don’t think the internet has impacted my artwork itself. However, my new website brought viewers to my paintings that I would not have had, like yourself. We launched it only last February, so I’ll wait to comment on its long-term impact. The little Quicktime movie, opened by clicking the painting on my homepage, is critical. Still photos alone don’t get across the physical surface and depth of the work.
The internet has impacted my ability to see what else is going on the visual arts quickly and far more broadly than I could before -- very helpful.

OA: What's next for Ellen Priest?
EP: When the “Venezuelan Suite” paintings are finished later this year (based on Edward Simon’s 4- movement “Venezuelan Suite”), I’ll take a break doing some lithographs and drawings. My next big project will work with the music of pianist/composer Geri Allen. I expect to begin on one of her pieces in the spring. I love the physical, percussive quality of her playing.

For more information on Ellen Priest please visit her website.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Release Tuesday

Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
Adventure - Adventure Listen to: Battle Cat (mp3)
Karl Blau - Nature's Got Away Listen to: Mockingbird Diet (mp3)
Blitzen Trapper - Furr Listen to: Furr (mp3)
Brightblack Morning Light - Motion to Rejoin Listen to: Oppressions Each (mp3)
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone - Town Topic Ep
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
High Places - High Places
TV on the Radio - Dear Science
I Heart Lung - Interoceans Listen to: "IV (Exceprt)" (mp3)
J Boogie Dubtronic Science - Soul Vibrations
Caw! Caw! - Wait Outside Ep Listen to: Organisms (mp3)
Donovan Quinn And The 13th Month - Donovan Quinn And The 13th Month Listen to: Holy Agent (mp3)
Lenka - Lenka
Matt Duke - Kingdom Underground Listen to: Sex and Reruns (mp3)
Pink Spider - Sweat it Out
The Tough Alliance - A New Chance


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Orange Spotlight

Jeremy Shipp Sheep and Wolves (Raw Dog Screaming Press, Fall 2008)

"When people say, “Get a life,” what they usually mean is, “Drown out the screaming of your heart like I do, then we can be friends.” I refuse." from "Nightmare Man"

On the way to park this afternoon I spotted the first glimpse of Autumn. It was a full grown oak with leaves glowing in orange, yellow and red. Soon there will be pumpkins, scarecrows, ghost, goblins, haunted houses, and all of the typical joy mixed with fear that is Fall. There is no better writer to read on a cool autumn evening then California's Jeremy Shipp. Having read his enthralling and disturbing debut novel Vacation, I jumped at the chance to take a sneak peak at his new collection of short stories, Sheep and Wolves. Now I had never read any of Jeremy's short stories, but I knew I had to find the right time and location to read through this collection. The mood had to be just right, and I chose to be alone in a dimly lit room late at night. It seemed right as I tried to let the gruesome images that can seem so foreign yet so captivating.

Jumping right in with the first story "Watching", Jeremy creates worlds that at times seem unreal or unfamiliar, but have a biting sense of reality that really allows the reader to stay engaged. From moving marshmallow peeps to reattaching a little girls severed thumb to clowns and cyborgs, the stories contained in Sheep and Wolves are like a series of car accidents. You know shouldn't be looking, but you can't take your eyes off the pages stained with blood and fingers and all the horror and madness. It's perfect for this time of year even if you are not a fan of the genre. Start a campfire, grab a bag of marshmallow and read lines like; "Now I’m dragging a dead dog by the tail. I’m dragging her toward an apple tree under the full moon, because these are the three ingredients. Dog, apple, moon."

Lykke Li Youth Novels (LL Recordings, August 19th)

Sweden's Lykke Li does not really need my spotlight. She has really owned this year, releasing both an ep and her debut full-length album, but I can't ignore this quality release. At 22 she has pushed or danced her way onto the national stage, and her album Youth Novels really deserves the attention. It deserves the appearances on national television, the world tour, and all of the praise. Recorded with her mentor Bjorn Yttling (of Peter, Bjorn & John) over the last 10 months, Youth Novels weaves its way through 14 perfectly-realized chapters. You’ll hear harpsichords, flutes, and theremins throughout the album but you’ll also hear Lykke Li’s magnificently brittle, candy coated vocals. The idea of a novel on youth and all of its confusion and want and change is intriguing in itself, but when told through the eyes of LL’s with unusual honesty it becomes an adventure that never stops moving.

You see, Lykke Li is the daughter of a photographer and a musician, and as a child they were consistently moving from town to town and country to country. This would account for the eclectic pop sound and diverse collection of beats on Youth Novels. LL has managed to write engaging and familiar pop song with beats and rhythms that really advance the album as a whole. Since I seem to hear these song everywhere what I have enjoyed doing is collecting remixes of these now classic tunes. Here are a few I have collected.

I'm Good I'm Gone (Black Kids Remix) (mp3)
Breaking It Up (Punks Jump Remix) (mp3)
Little Bit (Klumpfisk Remix) (mp3)
Little Bit (Loving Hands Remix) (mp3)
Dance, Dance, Dance (Chaise Marcel Remix) (mp3)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Orange Alert's Music Minute

Formed in 2001, these high school friends have tried out a few different styles over the years. Originally a punk band, on their latest EP, Wait Outside, this trio blends the energy of punk rock with their new found pop sensibilities and curiosity for atmospherics. Over these seven tracks, Caw! Caw! features unique guitar patterns, solid melodies, and a lot of boyhood fantasies. With a great cover by Liz Born, Wait Outside is an ep these three friends from an unnamed Chicago high school should be proud of.

Listen to: Organisms (mp3)

It's been ten years since Sista K, Clem, Matt and Soupa Ju (a.k.a Watcha Clan) came together to revolutionize the world music scene. On their return release, Diaspora Hi-Fi, they bring together North African, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, and French influences along to a strong dance beat. The album plays like a nomadic journey from hilltop to hilltop, from country to country, from religion to religion, you never know where you are headed next. The bands personal journey acts the same why, and it will bring them to America for the first time. On October 1st they will be appearing at Droma Gypsy Fest in New York.

Back in the '90's there was a band called Madder Rose. Billy Coté and Mary Lorson were in Madder Rose, and that band made four albums and toured the world, headlining the Melody Maker stage at England's Reading Festival and enjoying critical approval if not staggering sales. Since that time they have worked on different projects, but are together again and have brought in Kathy Ziegler. Now as The Piano Creeps, this trio is creating one part indie pop, one part free jazz, and one part piano ballad. Their album, Future Blues (for me and you), is out on October 14th.

Listen to: Hey Love (mp3)

The buzz has been building around this band for years, and finally their debut album Some Are Lakes will be released by Saddle Creek Records on Oct. 7th. Land of Talk is powered by the fierce vocals of Elizabeth Powell and they have been touring their native Montreal and all over the North America for the last two years. With bassist Chris McCarron and drummer Andrew Barr (The Slip), the band set up in an old converted church outside of Montreal and recorded 9 songs with the helping hands of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). The tenth and final track “Troubled” was recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at Vernon’s parents' home.

Listen to: Corner Phone (mp3) and Some Are Lakes (mp3)

As an electronic musician it is easy to build a certain level of mystery. A bedroom producer can slip into their own world, delve deep into their own sound, or in the case of Ghostly International latest artist, rise high above the atmosphere and gaze down. Late last month, The Sight Below release a free ep called No Place For Us. This three song taste of what lays ahead on their full length debut, Glider, in November, gently floats and glides and explores, for a brief moment, the hidden world of The Sight Below. Download the ep, pour a glass of wine, lean back and relax.

New Jersey indie roots four-piece Carlon will embark on a twelve date tour starting tonight at Public Assembly in Brooklyn, New York. The breezy twelve gig jaunt is in celebration of the band’s forthcoming Ropeadope Digital debut, Johari Window, due September 30th. The tour finds the band making its way down the east coast and into the gulf, before concluding three days prior to the album’s release in Austin, Texas. Johari Window, the long-awaited answer to Carlon’s self-released Suburban Heel EP, was produced by the band and Ross Petersen and executive produced by Pete Francis of Dispatchin Carlon’s warehouse rehearsal space in New Jersey. Head over to Imeem now, for an exclusive behind the scenes look at the making of the record.

Listen to: Cantaloupe (mp3)
The Peel Back: Latryx The Album (Quannum Projects, Aug. 1997)

This was another album that I was a little late to the party on, but in 2001 when the Scratch documentary came out there was a bonus feature with Arizona's Z-Trip. In this little segment Z-Trip shows the audience how to blend two songs together. The vocals he used where "The Life" by Mystic, but the instrumental I hadn't heard before. Even through I hadn't heard it I was captivated. I couldn't get that bass line out of my head. I watched the video again the next day, and paused it for the second that they show the label of the album. It read, "LADY DON'T TEK NO". I quickly looked up the song, and in no time I The Album in my hand. Now Lady Don't Tek No is actually on an ep released in 1998, but The Album is a great introduction to the sound of Latryx.

Consisting of now legendary rappers Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker, Latryx was formed in 1996 with the help of long-time friends DJ Shadow and Chef Xcel (of Blackalicious). This album is a true collaboration of the soul and funk of Lyrics Born and the laid back R&B flow of Lateef. There really was a sense that something special was going one, and these two have gone on to be extremely successful. Earlier this year, Lyrics Born his second studio album (first on Anti Records), Everywhere at Once. On October 14th, Lateef will team up with Gift of Gab to release a full length Mighty Underdogs album and drop some Science Fiction.

Listen to: Lady Don't Tek No (mp3)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Watch List

1. Lady Lamb The Beekeeper: Brunswick, Maine is home to Adelaide & Basil Aly. This duo is creating lo-fi atmospheric pop melodies. Listen to: Walrus (mp3)
2. David Daniell: Drone music from Chicago, David crafts the most beautiful and peaceful sounds I've heard in a while.
3. Kordan: Arthur Eisele only has a handful of demos recorded, but he is currently opening for Cut Copy. He debut single should released this fall, and he will then work on his debut full-length. One of his songs was heard on East Village Radio while the guys from Cut Copy were there in the studio a few months ago. They found it to be the most memorable songs that night. With a new tour being planned to come stateside, months later they remembered Kordan. They had their manager contact Kordan and the rest is history. Listen to: Fantasy Nation (mp3)

1. Equality by Fiona Hemsley: A girls quest for respect, I think. Her methods are strange and entertaining.
2. Spiderman, Pee Wee, Fellini by Katrina Kymberly NGUYEN: "I feel dumb for feeling embarrassed." A story of confusion about life and relationships. Also a story about Wal-Mart and panic attacks.
3. Dating Advert by Chris Killen: Honesty is not always the best policy.
4. Three Poems by Jason Fisk: Poems of humor and poems of deep isolation and even a poem about being drunk!
5. Why Obama by Daniel Ingala (aka Plushgun): A great essay by a great musician. Why should we care who Plushgun is voting for you ask? Well, maybe we should, but he does support his opinion and made me smile in the process.
6. Missive To T by John Ottey: Some of the best stories are written in a foreign land.
7. Ninty One by Justin Rand: This 91 from 72!

1. Ryan Bubnis is now offering originals on his etsy site. My absolute favorite is "Under Pressure"
2. Skidding Through the Mud Incognito by Jenifer Wills: This chap was the winner of Gloom Cupboards 2008 contest. (review to follow)
3. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway: I know cover design is important, but pink fuzzies! Really?

Getting: (Full Album Samplers Edition)
1. Max Justus is the coolest electronic musician in Missiouri. Download his album Talk To Strangers
2. Duck Down Records, home to DJ Revolution, Kidz in the Hall, Ruste Juxx, Heltah Skeltah, and more, has released a sampler filled with tracks from their upcoming releases.
3. I know this is old news, but Ghostly is one of my favorite label and back in April they contributed a great mix to the Adult Awim series. Check out Ghostly Swim.

1. Theresa Anderson Na Na Na Na: Now that is what I call a multi-instrumentalist! Theresa is playing at SPACE in Evanston tomorrow night.
2. Pop Montreal Teaser
3. Sia "Soon We'll Be Found"
4. Casettes Won't Listen "Freeze and Explode"
5. The Beckoning of Lovely: The message is simply, but will you act?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Orange Alert's September Mix

Birth of a River by Gala Bent

I have been wanting to start a new feature for a while now, and a delay in my interview with Brooklyn's Shakeyface has given me the opportunity. Every month I will post a new mix filled with songs I have found this month and a few that just seem to fit. So as the air starts to turn chilly, and summer begins to fade, enjoy this September mix.

Orange Alerts Sept Mix

This month's mix features: The Sounds of Kaleidoscope, Beck, School of Seven Bells, Theresa Andersson, Fujiya & Miyagi, Ed Harcourt, Creaky Boards, Friendly Fires, Plushgun, Caw! Caw!, These United States, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Brendan Losch, Megafaun, The Builders & The Butchers, Icy Demons, High Places, Watcha Clan, Wax Stag, Max Justus, The Chandeliers, The Extraordinaires, Kordan, Little Jackie, The High Decibels, and That Handsome Devil. You can download the entire mix here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reader Meet Author

Bradley Lastname

"Your pretty typeface is goin' to hell/My heart is broken so I'm goin' to hell/Loganbury me way down deep in hell/I'm a steel drivin' man, I wanna go to HELL !!"

A few weeks ago I received a mysterious chapbook from a man with a mysterious name. The address inside the book said Chicago so I was intrigued and sent an e-mail to the e-mail address printed inside the cover. I read the wonderfully cryptic collection of poems and inventive pieces of wordplay, DADA, nonsense and anagrams. I then sent some question to the e-mail address, and a weeks time I received two more packages. The return address on the thicker of the two read "NO TICKEE/NO WASHEE ENTERPRIZES" and the address on the other was "HUGH HEFFER, THE PLAYBORE MAN$ION, HOMELY HILLS, KKKALIFORNIKKKATION, 96969". It was either that anthrax that I always thought was coming my way, or the answers to the questions that I had e-mailed Chicago writer Bradley Lastname.

Here are the questions that I had e-mailed:

1. Your latest chapbook, Your Pretty Typeface Is Going To Hell, is
hilarious and inventive. What can you tell us about it?
2. How did you first become fascinated with word play and DADA writing?
3. You are also an artist. How would best describe your art?
4. I can't find any information on the press of the third mind, is
that your press? Do you print these by hand?
5. Living in Chicago, what is your take on the Chicago literature in general?
6. What's next for Bradley Lastname?

Bonus Questions:
1. Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Chicago?
2. What type of music do you listen to, and who are a few of your favorites?

Bradley did send abridged answer via e-mail in all caps.


The contents of the smaller of the two packages (which had a Gapers Block Transmission Sticker on it, very nice) contained a print out of an article called, I Ate Armenian Meatballs with Bradley Lastname.

Below is the remainder of my interview with the mysterious BRADLEY LASTNAME.

To obtain a copy of YOUR PRETTY TYPEFACE IS GOING TO HELL, you can e-mail Bradley at bradleylastname [AT]

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Artist of the Week

Hilary A. Scott

As technology advances and the tools we once relied on become unnecessary and time consuming, what will become of them? For example, with the ease of google maps, the hand-held GPS devices, on-star, etc., what do you do with your maps? You know, the paper map, the one shoved under the seat of your car next to your missing cassette of The Queen is Dead and that roll of film. Well, Georgia artist Hilary A. Scott has found a creative and beautiful way to utilize these unnecessary and neglected maps and turn them into works of art.

Hilary reinterprets the classic map by utilizing old fashion photo developing and classic painting. She redefines and explores roads, finds new directions, and completely changes what once was a tool. This exploration delves into the relationship between man and nature, and the paved freedom that cuts through forest and over rivers. It is a tracing of history, a history of discovery and necessity and knowledge, reduced to lines and legends.

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

Orange Alert (OA): I've only seen a few other artists focus so intently on the subject matter that you focus on. When did your fascination with maps begin?
Hilary A. Scott (HS): I think I have always been fascinated with maps, since I was young. My dad was always really into them for hiking, fishing and recreational planning and we could pour over them on the coffee table for hours. In college I lived and traveled abroad a lot and checking out where I was going to, or where I had been, in a foreign country, always made it seem more real. You can actually see distance between things in maps and get a glimpse into what is around that you didn't see. Plus, the shapes, patterns and line work is absolutely beautiful to me. When I moved from the West Coast to the East Coast my obsession with the cross country drive made me realize how little I had observed the geography of our own country.

OA: Have you been to all fifty states? Have you considered working on maps with a smaller scale (i.e. counties or cities)?
HS: I have not been to ALL of the fifty states but it is definitely a goal of mine. Right now I am working on a specific 'zoom', if you will. Once I feel like I have completed the states in drawing, cyanotype and paint I will move on to do more world maps, to focus on county borders. I am already working on more intimate memory maps of cities and places with the globe paintings.

OA: The process of creating cyanotypes is incredible, but it sounds time consuming. What got you involved in cyanotypes? How long does the process take?
HS: Cyanotype is actually an alternative form of photography processing. It is one of the oldest forms and uses two salt compounds mixed together to make the treated surface sun sensitive. I used to play with it in small sheets when I was a kid. I guess my mom got it in a kit. We would place keys, leaves, shells and such on the paper and watch it change to produce what i now know is called a photogram. It was so magical. It still is. I have always been attracted to that rich blue color, even in my painting and I was studying architectural blueprints as a form of map making when I rediscovered this old process. It is not too bad once you get a system down, it just takes planning ahead. It works best between 12-3 on a sunny day here, so I have to plan around the weather. Depending on the sun, it exposes in about 15 min. then I hose it off to rinse out the developer. Sometimes they turn out and sometimes they are not so great.

OA: Do you start with photos? Where do you find your photos?
HS: In the work I am doing now, I start with maps. Real maps, from AAA. I don't think people really use them anymore because of automated services and the Internet. For the work I was doing before, I worked from snap shots I took from the steering wheel on road trips.

OA: Much of your work is driven by roads and following where they lead. What does the road represent to you?
HS: For me, and for many, the road is an analogy for life as well as connectivity... a direction and a path. Since the evolution of the automobile, roads are everywhere in America. They connect people and make it possible for us to see the land. On long drives that pavement never changes, it is a constant. While the scenery connected to it is ever changing. It is the perfect place for freedom, thought and conversation. To view the road from a map we can see how humans have chosen to organize, separate and connect the natural elements we were presented with.

OA: What's next for Hilary A. Scott?
HS: Well, I have a big solo coming up this Fall. (If you are in or near Savannah Nov 13 - Dec 2 come check it out). That is where my energies are currently being pointed. After that I will make the coast to coast road trip again as I move back to California in December. There, I will be plugging into the exciting art scene in the LA area, looking for a job and getting married to a very talented painter (check out his work at Lots of change ahead, and I cant wait to see where the road will take me!

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in your area?
HS: For a good cup of coffee and conversation in Savannah, GA The Sentient Bean (known as 'the bean') is the best neighborhood coffee you can get. They always have great art up and changing, comfy couches and live music for the ultimate 'artsy scene'. It is also right on Forsythe Park. Cant beat the view.

OA: What type of music do you listen to, and who are a few of your favorites?
HS: My music tastes are ever changing and I am always open to new suggestions. Anything that I can paint to is good. I err on the side of chill with favorites like Regina Spektor, The Weepies, and Iron & Wine. This may make me a uncool but, Puccini, Ella Fitzgerald and Tracy Chapman also never get old.

For more information on Hilary A. Scott please visit her website.