Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The BJ Rubin Show

The BJ Rubin Show
Episode #101
Original Airdate - 12/28/10 on BCAT2 in Brooklyn

Starring David Earl Buddin, BJ Rubin and Kevin Shea

Featuring Caroline Contillo, Smokestack Lightning and a Painting by Lauren Martin

Music by American Liberty League and Sexy Thoughts

Produced through the facilities of
Brooklyn Community Access Television
Brooklyn, NY 11217

©MMX Megaton Media

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Flying Luttenbachers

"The title should be Greatest This or Greatest Shit or Greatest Hist. Or Greatest Sith or Greatest Isth or Greatest Htsi or Greatest Tish, not because THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS never had a hit  -- 'Pointed Stick' would qualify having been yell-requested by many an Azita Yousseffi-contemporary in beer-soaked conditions (despite their not knowing the title it was the one they wanted) --  but because they're not nearly pedestrian enough for such a generic title, particularly for this valuable NECESSARY retrospective (PROLE, prehaps, but NE'ER pedestrian).

In fact they are eponymous un-pedestrian; these LUTTENBACHERS are FLYING (no surplus of pyrotechnics would be sufficient to distract you from this obviation), vitriol and moxie is their means of staying airborne. THEIR INSTRUMENTS (duct taped, plastic, threadbare, sharpied, weathered, found, abused even before being performance-mangled and then tour-battered and further compromised by the classist conditions of the post-Reaganomics northern Midwest in which a certain bandleader had to fairly abscond with high school woodwinds to practice to THE DAMNED with only the most peripheral of faculty permissions) ARE THE TIGHTROPE. Idiom and physical performance ability is the void of bone-crushing space betwixt their vulnerable sarcoplasma and the antipathetic floor of the audience that must be vaulted at great personal risk when performing and that would be nightly most nights when they were engaged in one of their many storied tours both domestic and abroad.

Q: Anybody up for helming a bloodthirsty quintessentially punk jazz squadron of chain-gang record store escapees to plunder the creatively bankrupt wilds of central North America on the ass end of this century past?

A: (Crickets)

Q: NO?! Well, Weasel fucking Walter is up for it, YOU ANEMIC KNOW-NOTHING PUSH-BUTTON TWAT.
A: 'Weasel who?' you don't ask because you're obviously reading this (or rather reading this surreptitiously).

Q: 'YOU MISERABLE PRO-CHOICE-INVIGORATING TOILET-FEEDER,' I don't answer. Weasel Walter, the modern composer who inspired the like-titled ZAPPA album and who was plagiarized by said composer's synclavier work having preceded it with his own electronic BOULEZ-with-strychnine-poisoning modern-ensemble-simulacrum immortalized during his thorny I-don't-need-to-spoonfeed-the-special-olympics-of-no-wave-saturday-night-live-band-member-understudies-period when he really HAD HAD enough and decided to go it alone...I mean for the sake of regional franchises (BEEF-A-ROO), WEASEL HIMSELF can barely TEACH HIMSELF this disagreeably modern shit let alone some disenfranchised HATEWAVE fan with a cocaine hangover.

The lonely observers of his artistic arc agree: WE'RE SURPRISED it took him this fucking long to do so, so when he finally did complete THIS (one of at least several) MEISTERWERK, he exported it to the future and that monobrowed Californian A-rab got the kudos (you got any gas money before he returns to the present?).

Besides, what's the fuss anyhoo. We have all agreed to agree with THE WIRE magazine -- 'talent ain't in your throat or hands (I'm plagiarizing an '80s skin mag "article" called "ROCK HARD" here) it's between your legs' or in the case of THE WHY'ER fagazine, YOUR WALLET.

Short story long, Weasel's work is just that: WORK.

This is NOT valid entertainment (unless I can have some of that LSD I left in his freezer); this music is DISTRACTING.

It is obstinately rigorous, insists on being payed attention-to, betrays the details of labor-intensive studies, knows who itself is, expects quality to be celebrated, demands to be congratulated for being demanding and assumes that it will be liked just because it often kicks ass.

According to the stringently disinterested and disinteresting trustafarian effluvium so prevalent in these ersatz times, THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS are NOT worth reviewing, and when compared to the other acts which have their sartorial priorities wa-ay intact, they pale in comparison because they seem unembarrassed by their own caucasoid contours, testosteriffic formal trials and indefatigable commitment to KILLER ENERGY MUSIC that manifests both epicurean avidity to established musicological conglomerations and as-yet fuck-all-undefined futuristic ambitions.

Nah, better blow THE FLYING LUTTENBACHERS off.

Just writing this paltry puff piece I had to activate a somnambulant brain center or three and this band makes me feel weak.......wait......('buh ba-ba bum-Pa!')....EVERY FUCKING TRACK ON THIS BAD BOY IS ENERGIZING MY TORPID ASS."

~Nondor Nefuckingvai

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, The Flying Luttenbachers.

Greatest Hits (ugEXPLODE/Pukekos)
1. Assault on Apathy
2. Pointed Stick 93-B
3. Cryptosporidium
4. Trauma 1
5. kkringg number one
6. Survivors Suite
7. The Void part four
8. Demonic Velocities/20,000,000 Volts
9. Elfmeros
10. Medley
11. Cataclysm
12. Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth (excerpt)
13. The Holy Mountain

The Flying Luttenbachers
Greatest Hits
c + p ugEXPLODE Records 2010

1. "Assault on Apathy"
from Incarceration By Abstraction (ugEXPLODE) 2007
Weasel Walter - all instruments

2. "Pointed Stick 93-B"
from Constructive Destruction (Quinnah/ugEXPLODE) 2004
Weasel Walter - drums, Chad Organ and Ken Vandermark - tenor saxophones, Jeb Bishop - bass guitar, Dylan Posa - guitar

3. "Cryptosporidium" (Walter/Falzone/Pisarri)
from Gods of Chaos (Skin Graft/ugEXPLODE) 1997
Weasel Walter - drums, saxophone, Chuck Falzone - guitar, William Pisarri - bass guitar

4. "Trauma 1" (Walter/Colligan/Johnson)
from Trauma (ugEXPLODE) 2001
Weasel Walter - drums, Michael Colligan - tenor saxophone, Kurt Johnson - double bass

5. "kkringg number one"
from Spectral Warrior Mythos Vol. 1 (ugEXPLODE) 2005
Weasel Walter - drums, Mick Barr - guitar, Ed Rodriguez - bass guitar

6. "Survivors Suite" (Keith Jarrett)
from Live at WNUR 2-6-92 (Coat-Tail/ugEXPLODE) 1992
Weasel Walter - drums, Hal Russell and Chad Organ - tenor saxophones

7. "The Void part four"
from The Void (ugEXPLODE/Troubleman Unlimited) 2004
Weasel Walter - drums, Ed Rodriguez - guitar, Mike Green - bass guitar

8. "Demonic Velocities/20,000,000 Volts"
from Destroy All Music Revisited (Skin Graft/ugEXPLODE) 1995

9. "Elfmeros" (Alex Perkolup)
from Infection and Decline (ugEXPLODE/Troubleman Unlimited) 2002
Weasel Walter - drums, Alex Perkolup - bass guitar, guitar, Jonathan Hischke - piccolo bass

10. "Medley"
from "...the truth is a fucking lie..." (ugEXPLODE/Skin Graft) 1999
Weasel Walter - drums, Chuck Falzone - guitar, William Pisarri - bass guitar

11. "Cataclysm" (Walter/Rodriguez)
from Cataclysm (ugEXPLODE) 2006
Weasel Walter - drums, guitar, electronics, Ed Rodriguez - guitar, Mick Barr - guitar, Mike Green - bass guitar

12. "Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth (excerpt)"
from Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder (ugEXPLODE/Troubleman Unlimited) 2003
Weasel Walter - all instruments

13. "The Holy Mountain"
from Revenge (Skin Graft/ugEXPLODE) 1996
Weasel Walter - drums, saxophone, clarinet, Chuck Falzone - guitar, William Pisarri - bass guitar

assembled and mastered on oct. 31, 2010 by weasel walter for pukekos.org

all titles composed by Weasel Walter, Sedition Dog Music (BMI) except where noted

1. "Assault on Apathy"

The lead-off track from the final, solo Luttenbachers album, released in 2007. Most of the songs on this album were composed and intended to be performed by Mick Barr and Ed Rodriguez, but by the time the live unit (then feat. Ed, the excellent Rob Pumpelly on guitar and fill-in bassist Tony Dryer) played its final show on Nov. 1st, 2006, this vision would not come to pass. Instead, I set about recording all the songs by myself. At the time I thought I could continue the group, but Incarceration By Abstraction would turn out to be an epitaph. In my mind, the creative possibilities of the Luttenbachers project were far from finished, but the financial and psychic realities of trying to realize complex, rehearsal-intensive music in this era turned out to be an impasse I no longer wanted to fight. What I've left behind is a sonic manifesto: a true assault on apathy.

2. "Pointed Stick 93-B"

A crowd pleaser from the second full-length Luttenbachers release, recorded in late 1993. Some people have sporadically joked that this was the line-up of the group "girls liked." My writing wasn't terribly sophisticated at this early stage, but i was doing the best I could to mate punk energy, proggish riffs and free jazz skronk. The goal was to get out there in the scene and do something different. At the time this sort of punk/jazz fusion was still novel. People were psyched about it, for what it's worth. The original pressing was an LP in an edition of 500 copies. Apparently 200 of them burnt in a fire at the plant, so there are probably less than 300 total in circulation. The covers were hand-assembled by the band and the front plate of each has some unique phrase written under it by myself. I suppose you'd have to destroy your copy to find out what it says!

3. "Cryptosporidium"

The Gods of Chaos album was released in 1997 and it was the most ambitious and complicated group production in the history of the band. Although this track is rather straight-ahead in approach, the rest of the album was a true overdub and mixing nightmare of epic proportions, back when everything had to be manually patched, muted, un-muted, faded, etc. live on the fly. We spent a pretty good amount of time in a cold, empty Chicago loft studio during the dead of winter, freezing our butts off, trying to get this concept album about the destruction of humanity finished. I was also mixing the Lake Of Dracula debut in the same studio at the time . . . At it's core, "Cryptosporidium" simply mated Captain Beefheart with De Mysteriis-era Mayhem (when Gorguts' legendary Obscura album came out a year later and took this kind of ridiculous approach to an amazing new plateau, we definitely felt like we were onto something).

4. "Trauma 1"

After the Revenge trio broke up following a European tour in early 1998, I spent a good amount of time experimenting with different combinations of a small pool of players before deciding to concentrate on a heavily free-jazz informed approach. The stripped down trio of myself on drums (sans snare!), Michael Colligan (a previous member of seminal Chicago group Math feat. Mr. Quintron) on reeds and Kurt Johnson (who also played electric bass in the band Lozenge) on double bass worked very hard on developing a cohesive group sound, utilizing sudden visual cues and intensely discussing aesthetic do's-and-don'ts. Trauma was our sole studio effort, a massive outpouring of searing intensity, released originally as a double lp in 2001. Todd Rittmann (U.S. Maple) and Rob Wilkus graciously helped us capture what we were trying to achieve with the utmost clarity, engineering the session in the front room of Michael's former venue/home 6 ODUM.

5. "kkringg number one"

2005 was a difficult year for the group, mostly due to constant line-up fluctuations and having to relearn or rearrange all this complicated material numerous times with different people as a result. In late 2004, Mick Barr had joined the band on second guitar, so we spent much of that winter learning new material. The powerful new quartet debuted in February 2005, playing a few West Coast shows before the three of us (without Mick) embarked on a previously booked European tour in March 2005. When we returned we prepared for the Cataclysm album recording in July 2005. In the meantime, Mike Green basically decided that he didn't have time to rehearse and play in the live band for a while, which left us to re-configure as another kind of trio (me, Mick and Ed Rodriguez). Between June and December of that year we played only a few West Coast gigs in this formation before Mick left San Francisco to return back to the East Coast. Whew. You following this? Before he left, we jammed out the Spectral Warrior Mythos EP in the practice space for fun and released it as a CD-R on the ugEXPLODE website. This track is a version of the song from the solo Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder album with actual humans playing together.

6. "Survivors Suite"

This was the first public appearance of the Flying Luttenbachers. The group started officially in late 1991, and we got this radio show gig in Feb. 1992. At the beginning we were an acoustic free jazz trio featuring two horn players and myself on drums. The music was very wild and humorous. We played a bunch of Albert Ayler covers as well as some simplistic original material. This stuff is definitely very raw on every level, but there's a carefree sense of fun which makes it enjoyable to listen to (in light of the preposterous levels of bleak obtuseness the band continually rose to afterwards). This music was first released on cassette in 1992, before being reissued on CD in 1996. The master was taped on a boombox directly from the original FM broadcast! Those were different times. I was 19 years old and totally full of shit.

7. "The Void part four"

A powerful Black Metal-tinged track from our 2004 album/suite The Void. The main riff was originally conceived for a fucked-up glam-rock unit I played in during the mid-90s (the group was Vanilla, with myself under the nom de plume "Johnny Holocaust") and it was inspired by certain inappropriately creepy guitar breaks in Olivia Newton-John and Linda Ronstadt songs from the '70s. The entire album The Void was based on a very small amount of motivic material, reiterated and transformed throughout the whole thing. Most people didn't even notice. Too bad for them. At the time I was very influenced by Bartok, Stravinsky and Messiaen, and how they manipulated their ideas with very deliberate intelligence and resourcefulness. Sure, you can just write a shitload of material, but can you take just a few chords and make it into a whole album? Well, we did and it worked rather well.

8. "Demonic Velocities/20,000,000 Volts"

The opening ripper from the third Luttenbachers full-length released in 1995. The opening and closing theme is an allusion to "Shout at The Devil" by Mötley Crüe (at the time I was simultaneously playing Nikki Sixx in a Crüe tribute called "2 Fast 4 Love") and the middle section is a vamp in 5/4 that has haunted me (and popped up regularly in my music) since 1988. Destroy All Music was originally released on LP in 1995 by Elevated Chimp Records, before being reissued in 1998 on CD by Skin Graft. A totally remastered version with bonus tracks and improved artwork (Destroy All Music Revisited) dropped a few years ago, and I consider that version the definitive one of the lot.

9. "Elfmeros"

An excellent composition by our then fretless "earth" bassist Alex Perkolup, "Elfmeros" is one of the gnarliest, most relentless compositions the live band ever pulled off, heavily influenced by Magma and the Zeuhl aesthetic, but charged with ass-kicking Death/Grind heaviness and dissonance. Later this winter, there will be a remastered version of this album (Infection and Decline) featuring some great, previously unheard live tracks and a desperately needed remastering (compare this version with the ultra-tinny original and you'll know what I'm talking about). Alex went on to play with Bobby Conn, Lovely Little Girls and Cheer-Accident and the "air bassist" (he played a bass with guitar strings on it) Jonathan Hischke went on to play with Broken Bells, the full-group version of Hella, Marnie Stern, Bobby Conn and a million others.

10. "Medley"

During the January 1998 European tour we were regularly performing this bombastic medley of early Luttenbachers compositions. This version was recorded live in Hamburg and was released on "...the truth was a fucking lie..." LP in 1999.

11. "Cataclysm"

A gnarly piece of music I wrote using several unique, thorny riffs supplied to me by guitarist Ed Rodriguez as the basic material. I first saw Ed shredding the fuck out of his guitar during the mid-90s with Colossamite and Gorge Trio, before asking him to join the band at a 2002 show in Minneapolis. He moved out to the Bay Area soon after I did in early 2003 and we started a new Luttenbachers line-up that fall. Originally this formation (with Burmese bassist Mike Green) covered the entire 1996 Revenge album in order! It was just for something to do, just to get it up and running, before we figured out what direction the new material was heading in. Well, over the next three years, the material got more and more complex... This song was definitely on the higher level of what the live band was doing towards the end. I'm proud of it. Ed and I also played in XBXRX together for several years before he finally wound up playing in Deerhoof.

12. "Rise of the Iridescent Behemoth (excerpt)"

About half of this monstrous long-form composition from the 2003 Systems Emerge From Complete Disorder solo album. The Infection band with Alex and Jonathan wound down in fall 2002 and I wound up touring for the rest of the year by myself in a rental car with a few amps, a bass, saxophone, sampler, smoke machine and strobe lights. I definitely felt like there were some loose ends that I needed to tie up compositionally, so I also began the intense process of finishing this totally insane one-man Luttenbachers album alone in my bedroom. "Behemoth" is basically three years of work coming to a head. I can't even begin to estimate how many hours that piece took to compose. People often ask me if it will be played live and I usually say: "Sure, as soon as someone will pay me to put a band together to learn it!" With the advent of gravity blast drum techniques, etc. this music is totally doable, but would be definitely extremely difficult.

13. "The Holy Mountain"

A piece written in late 1995 after Bill Pisarri blew my mind by showing me Alejandro Jodorowsky's classic flick. The funereal end track to the otherwise skronk-obsessed Revenge album from 1996, this composition has a place in my black heart - it is simplistic but sophisticated, unique but primordial in nature. Jim O'Rourke always liked this one too, and he has pretty good taste, so I definitely take that as a big compliment. We were really crazy at that point, so everything on the album was mixed in this totally bizarre, unnatural way. Those were different times.


ww - 10.31.10

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Rapture

The Rapture moved to New York City during the summer of 1999, in search of fame and fortune.

This gig took place at Sound & Fury on 2/12/00. The lineup was:

Luke Jenner - Guitar/Vocals
Mattie Safer - Bass/Vocals
Vito Roccoforte - Drums
Jacob Long - Keyboard/Percussion

Sound & Fury was a Lower East Side record store, located at 192 Orchard Street. Peter Jacobson opened its doors during the spring of 1999, closing them again a few years later after they were priced out of the neighborhood. In the early part of the 21st century if you listened to underground music and lived in New York City, chances are you shopped at Sound & Fury.

I am there in the crowd somewhere, if you look closely enough. I also moved to New York City during the summer of 1999.

The Rapture chose to release the material from this era as two EPs rather a single album. One was Out of the Races and Onto the Tracks, the other a largely forgotten tour CD.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, The Rapture.

Insound Tour Support 19 (Pukekos)
1. Heaven
2. Echoes
3. Time
4. House of Jealous Lovers
5. The Return of Truth and Beauty in American Popular Music
6. Mirror II

(All photos by Jeff Winterberg, all videos by Kel O'Neill)

"New York has closed itself off to the young and the struggling."
--Patti Smith, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010


Sprinters burn out in a flash -- flying out of the blocks at full speed when the starter's gun is fired, but the race is over as soon as it is begun. Runners keep a slower pace, better suited for long distances.

The weather in Leeds is perfect for running outside or getting tense and agitated indoors, cold and grey with no sun for weeks on end. Then there is the rain1.

Select Gear list:
1970's Ludwig Silver Sparkle drums
Jen SX-1000
Roland EG-101
Roland SH-9
Yamaha CS-5
Korg M-500
Casio CT-607
Electribe ER-1
Roland 626 drum machine (with external modification unit by Wrongbot)
Novation K-Station
Boss PS-3, PS-5, RV-3, RV-5, BF-2B, PH-3, DD-3, VB-2, CS-3, GE-7

Runners is Dom, Leon, Nash, and Toby

Recorded by Ross Halden at Ghost Town Studios
Mastered by Michael Ward

Leeds, UK 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Runners.

Starting Line b/w Stay Frosty (Pukekos)
1. Starting Line
2. Stay Frosty

1. Rain is a source of vitamin B12, but not a significant one.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cellular Chaos

There are more ways than ever to hear a band, making listeners more inclined to pick the easiest one. In the past you had to either listen to an actual record or see them perform live. The easier it becomes to hear music, the more difficult it will become to hear challenging music.

Cellular Chaos is nothing if not challenging. They are a motley crüe, indeed.

Your parents are not going to like them. You might not even like them. They are the new rock and roll, punks in a world gone disco. Their aim is to destroy music, but only so it can be born again.

If you only go to one show this year, make it the next Cellular Chaos gig. They are one of the best bands in Brooklyn right now and like it or not, they will entertain you.

Weasel Walter - Guitar
Ceci Moss - Bass
Marc Edwards - Drums

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Cellular Chaos.

Friday, September 17, 2010


Bless you:

"I've always wanted to write an article on Kleenex (or was it LiLiPUT?, who cares...) and now, after twelve years, I am. To be fair, I had written a review for Ghetto Blaster Magazine in 2001 when Kill Rock Stars re-issued the initial Swiss Kleenex/LiLiPUT CD collection (Off Course Records, 1993) where I quipped that 'The Jatz' would make a great band name (I still believe that). It's just on ten years now and the world has changed. Please note that I don't care about the myriad political changes, or a naturally ever shifting culture, or that we still can't decide between the frosting side or the kid in us. I care that my world has changed, the people with whom I interact have changed, my geography has changed, my perspective on life has changed and I'm not afraid of sex anymore.

During the 80s & 90s suburban Long Island was fantastically boring and like many weird kids enduring school and the social anxiety of soccer, baseball & touch football I found solace in BMX, skateboarding & music. I would shop at the typical parade of music retail outlets available to a pre-teen heavy metal fan (Crazy Eddie, Square Circle, Titus Oaks) and stare unblinkingly at the severe animation and bloodthirsty graphics (Slayer's Hell Awaits, Kreator's Flag Of Hate, Grim Reaper's See You In Hell, Ugly Americans' Who's Been Sleeping My Bed and Hirax's Hate, Fear And Power among countless others) wondering how I was going to smuggle such cassettes/LPs past my parents.

I listened alone, as most kids do, lapping up all the imagery, dreaming of God knows what (a new GT Freestyle bike, a Vision Mark Gonzalez complete set-up, all the weird Iron Maiden cassette singles I saw at Tri-County Flea Market, blacklight posters?) and decided I wanted a guitar. I got one. I took one lesson, farted around with it for a year (if that), got bored and focused on daydreaming. I've since sold my Hondo imitation Strat and my 50 watt Gorilla practice amp, acquired my Kreator LPs and Maiden cassettes and eventually smuggled Master Of Puppets past my mother (until she found it, read the lyrics to “Damage Inc.” and, contrary to my hysteria, didn't give a fuck). I was a lonely kid.

Sure I had a gang of tweens to ride bikes with through the Snake Trails near the sump, hiding Pilot Markers in our back pockets, “2 Minutes To Midnight” and “Aces High” dive-bombing in my head, but it didn't matter, they listened to Rap and I listened to Metal... alas, the twain shall never meet.

The perception of my peer group had focused my sights on the older kids, the derries or derelicts AKA dirtbags, who wore Anthrax t-shirts and listened to Thrash Metal. The denim jackets and white high-tops appealed to me, the cars brimming with cute 16 year old women and Judas Priest blasting through the windows, the spiked belts and bracelets, the flannel shirts, the likely suspicion that every one of them was getting laid, the entire aesthetic burned... In anticipation I read Heavy Metal Rendezvous and Blast! Magazine in hopes of unearthing the most intense groups anyone I knew had ever heard (I read an article on Die Kreuzen but didn't understand it) all the while desperately hoping someone would make me a cassette copy of a Mentors record; they didn't.

1986-89: Junior High School, Hair Metal, Headbangers Ball and Megadeth. Then one day: the Sex Pistols File (Omnibus Press, 1978) -- I was hooked: the clothing, the hair, the attitude, the sense of fun and then my physical world changed...

My parents moved my sister and I from the North side of Plainview to the South, I read something called “Government Issue” written in paint marker on some skaters grip tape at my new school and I met my first Goth chick.

By 1990 Punk Rock and Hardcore became de rigueur and skateboarding took over in earnest. Suddenly I was part of the aesthetic, a thread in an alternate tapestry draping the normal world; I was developing an identity. One kid had colored his sneakers red and blue with a Sharpie, another drew band logos all over his jean jacket, I had my Corrosion Of Conformity nuclear skull t-shirt before I heard a single note. It didn't matter, the impression sufficed. Granted, upon hearing Animosity and Technocracy I did love them (especially Animosity), though it was the details and the emotional sensations surrounding the music experience that were equally captivating; the graphics on the sleeves, the fonts and the typeface, the faint perfumed scent of the cassette itself, the obliquely informative fine print explaining how 'Dolby Sound' worked and the highly entertaining yet masturbatory 'thank you' lists (allowing a glimpse at even more unknown bands and even larger world), all of these comprised the mystery, the allure.

Socially speaking High School was a breeze: I had friends (both skaters and music types), girlfriends. I bleached my hair, dyed it purple, blue, green, black, and in an dubiously lucid moment decided my Senior Quote was to be something my then girlfriend wrote to me in a love letter: 'Don't try to impress anyone, maybe not even yourself.' It was a punk rock gesture and the quote sounds terribly adolescent, though in her own muddled way she meant 'don't be too hard on yourself' (which I stand behind-though conversely it could also mean 'don't bother, you suck,' but that's water under the bridge now, right?)

Anyway, music was vital and as I got older and the mid-90s kicked in I began discovering and buying more esoteric records, the lion's share of which were on independent labels such as Sub Pop, Scat, Merge, K, Touch & Go, Homestead, SST, Alias, Drag City, Teenbeat, Amphetamine Reptile, Kill Rock Stars, Estrus, Alternative Tentacles, Lookout!, 4AD, and a raft of others; each label had its own unique logo, graphic sensibility, sound and humor. There was an entirely new world to wrap my head around, an entirely new language to learn, another new perspective. Fanzines were new to me, and I read them hungrily; CMJ was exciting and their groundbreaking and homogenizing 'R.I.Y.L.' after each record review was all the more addicting.

Records came and went, often based on the persuasive, almost edible designs of Jeff Kleinsmith (Sub Pop), Art Chantry (Estrus), Bruce Licher (Independent Projects Press), Daniel Clowes and Vaughan Oliver's 23 Envelope (4AD). Along the line I was tipped to the 70s New Wave and Post Punk acts, though it was still a few years before the distinction was clear: past was past and whether it was The Ruts or The Wipers or Wire or Nick Drake or The Zombies or The Embarrassment or Cat Butt or Blood Circus didn't mater, its history and influence personified credibility.

Soon Pavement gave way to Brit Pop and Brit Pop to Post Punk which quickly exploded into anything I could find on Cherry Red, Creation, Rough Trade, Les Disques Du Crepuscule, Factory, 99, Faulty Products, Flying Nun, Postcard, virtually anything imported on any label from 1977 to 1986, albeit enhanced with the prerequisite graphic touchstones: diagonal colored lines (check out Scott Wilk & The Walls' LP), razor thin pin striped borders framing a plainly dramatic landscape photograph (dig the Second Layer 12” collection of their two singles), anything minimally black & white (all of the Tools You Can Trust 45s), or, contrastingly, a vibrantly colored collage laden with pseudo-political subtext and imagery (McCarthy's I Am A Wallet or The Wolfhounds Bright And Guilty LPs) or the cleverly seductive portrait of someone almost dressed (the first Swamp Children 12” EP for example). Design became tantamount to the music, like gift wrapping so beautiful that it usurps the gift itself.

Graphic artists became personalities in their own right, especially the subtle rhythms of Jean-Francoise Octave, Benoit Hennebert, Joel Van Audenhaege, Claude Stassaert, Linder Sterling and Peter Christopherson; ideas became addicting thrills (such as The Return Of... The Durutti Column LP with its coarse sand paper sleeve set to intentionally destroy bookended vinyl jackets so as to come out victorious, or A Sudden Sway's maddeningly ingenious Sing Song 12" which was, unbeknownst to the record buying public, eight different songs ALL entitled 'Sing Song' and packaged in the SAME sleeve). While much of the inspiration for such hijinks stemmed from Dadaist, Futurist, Constructivist and Situationist text, sculpture, graphic art and concepts, it was re-contextualizing such fashionable subversion within the modernity of punk that sparked the inception of genius; the old & the new; milk & cookies; black leather & blue jeans; The Cabaret Voltaire & Cabaret Voltaire.

For art students (hopefully), artists (likely) and scholars (certainly) such information is but general knowledge, and, as a certain percent of musicians attend one 'art' school or other, it makes sense that many punk, post punk and new wave sleeves resulted from so informed a vantage point. This is not to insinuate every combo brandishing a peculiar sleeve was privy to such aesthetics (least we forget members of Joy Division were both persuaded and enlightened by Anthony H. Wilson and Alan Erasmus, as many rogue lads tend to be). Too, the late 70s was a golden age of Do It Yourself, and as cheap was a common (and hip) watchword minimalism caught on like wildfire. With punk having unleashed latent creative energies from both the fringe and proletariat element thousands of individuals quickly armed themselves with a contagious zeal and the most rudimentary musicianship. Such enthusiasm resulted in abundant curious records each one rendered as 'skillfully' as the next. Sleeves ran the gamut: some wore basic band mug shots aping the traditional rock & roll cliché (The Banned's Little Girl) while others preferred anonymity (The Frantic Elevators' You Know What You Told Me, whereby a thin black border serves as a picture frame for nothing, no information just a plain white sleeve).

1978 saw the formation of the Swiss group Kleenex, initially a five piece they quickly downsized to the classic all female line up: vocalist Regula Sing, bassist Klaudia Schiff, drummer Lislot Ha and guitarist Marlene Marder. Equally influenced/inspired by the nascent punk movement and Situationist/art school happenstance the quartet moved fast, recording their debut record in but a few months. The four song 7" EP was released on the local Sunrise label home to such eccentric acts as Vogel, Anton Bruhin with Stephen Wittwe and Walter Kaslin with Urs Zumbuhl, was met with instantaneous acclaim and contained the tracks 'Beri-Beri,' 'Ain't You,' 'Hedi's Head' and 'Nice.'

Keeping in step with the times, the sleeve design was minimal yet involving: a relatively hefty 14" x 14" card stock folded twice over baring black and white photographs of all four members in playfully defiant poses surrounded by a smattering of comical gold records, an angular Kleenex interspersed throughout and the 'Sunrise' logo in a far corner. Details scattered diagonally on the inverse fold reveal the pics were shot by P. Mattioli, the material recorded by Etienne Conod and Ronny Kurz at Sunrise Studio, the item was distributed via BAHP Record Distribution in Zurich, the cover was created by Peter Fischli, 'All Songs by Kleenex' and Siebdruck ('screen printing') by Walo.

Song titles are indiscriminately strewn about while an angular Kleenex yet again floats overhead (with an additional reminder Die Kleenex resting on the larger letter 'E'). As for the label on the vinyl: again a basic black and white schematic (all typeface in black, the label all white), the deceptively simple 'Sunrise' logo: the font, a composite stipple effect, is arched so as to resemble rays of light illuminating the Earth as the sun rises (insinuating a new dawn, a new horizon, a new era? perhaps...); the encouraging punk rock slogan 'play loud' just left of the large 45RPM hole on the A-Side while the B-Side encourages one to 'laut spielen;' and, just further left, a curiously cryptic +ML+ encased in a small rectangle, similar to the shape of a battery. No 'thank you's,' no color, no fat. Musically however, there was 'color,' and while they offered no 'thank you's' they made no apologies either.

Short bursts of Ramones riffs pulled and tugged while off-kilter harmonies forced and lurched, notes presented in rich vibrant saw-blades underpinned by a primally explicit beat. Innocent, revelatory and mischievous, a charming ineptitude so rhythmic it incited everyone to dance.

Such a stir this combo created that even London's fashionable Rough Trade caught the twitch and coaxed the group to sign on the perforated line... they did, and soon their second debut came to light.
RT009 was a more streamlined affair than it's Swiss precedent with two of the four tracks omitted for quicker impact (farewell 'Beri-Beri' and 'Nice') as well balanced with a slightly larger master. Additionally the vinyl label itself was brightened up with a pale green tone, a thin red circular border (this time Kleenex in red), the 'Sunrise' logo placed at the bottom, underneath the iconic 'Rough Trade' logo at the top; their ascension had begun.

Too, the paper sleeve itself bore subtle differences: tactically the card stock was thinner, feeling less like card stock and more like paper, and while the black and white photographs of the band members remained their stances were different: Regula Sing's off-putting rigidity was replaced with an amiable smile; Klaudia Schiff's defiant antagonism was enhanced by swapping her casual sweater for the more aggressive jacket; Lislot Ha followed suit by relaxing her bemused smirk into a skeptical leer; and with a sly hand tucked into the front of her jeans Marlene Marder's outgoing awkwardness downshifted to an amateur seduction.

Although 'Sunrise Studio' was still employed the group were no longer 'recorded,' they were now 'produced,' ...by E. Conod no less, not, as previously stated, by 'Etienne Conod and Ronny Kurz.' Personnel adjustments extended further still with 'Pics by P. Mattioli' shortened to 'Pics by Mattioli' and, as Rough Trade had their own Siebdruck, Walo was nowhere to be found.

Not only were there a great many aesthetic changes afoot there were larger, more legal forces at work: The popular American pharmaceutical company Kimberly-Clark sued the band for unlawful use of the name 'Kleenex' thus prompting the new appellation 'LiLiPUT,' referencing the little people, or Lilliputians, from Gulliver's Travels.

However, LiLiPUT's story is an altogether different set of affairs, and seeing as I've both hit the mark and deviated from my story, it's high time to reign things in. The truth of the matter is that none of this insight is anything other than haughty pontification under the guise of intellectual rock-writ hokum -- 'look how well I can articulate what I see!,' though had it not been for the years of social solitude and the few rewarding plug-ins with aesthetically like-minded souls (Cheers! to Lorelle Graffeo and Armando Zufante) my sense of refinement would be lesser, more muddled.

So what now? Perhaps this post may influence someone to look deeper into what's in front of them, to reevaluate the subtler aspects, not only the culture of records but the world at large; because as is evident from the innumerable meticulous designs of duplicitous 45RPM singles such are the innumerable meticulous designs of life; living is easy, all you have to do is notice..."

-- Joshua Gabriel

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Kleenex.

Kleenex EP (Sunrise)
1. Beri-Beri
2. Ain't You
3. Hedi's Head
4. Nice

Ain't You b/w Hedi's Head (Rough Trade)
1. Ain't You
2. Hedi's Head

Friday, September 10, 2010


Narchitect (like many of my favorite bands) broke up before anyone heard of them. I saw them play a few times in Brooklyn basements, but as the shows were never well attended I know that not very many other people did. They existed in various forms from 2000-2005, but now all we have left of them are these recordings.

The band recorded 22 songs over several different sessions, a few of which surfaced on their sole release -- a tour only CDr that even I missed. The core trio was:

Joel Saladino - Guitar/Vocals
Shahla Atlas - Keyboard
Josh Atlas - Drums

The band broke up for a variety of reasons, including the fact that Joel was touring in Parts & Labor and/or Knife Skills. Shahla and Josh took advantage of the downtime to get married and have a baby together.

"The first decade of the twentieth century may well be remembered for what it lacked. After the ascendancy of hip hop in the 1990's and the stagnation of rock in the post-grunge milieu, the world of popular music found itself shackled to the sinking corpse of the recording industry. Rather than face the dearth of shoddily manufactured pop stars, enterprising and motivated listeners once again turned their wistful ears to the underground.

Here were glimmers of hope: the possible discovery of a new Dylan, challenges to authority, a step beyond the songwriting of the Beatles, a new messiah. But how many of these glimmers proved to be ephemeral, only offered to audiences as a glimpse, and suggestion of possibilities, a nod confirming what we all must know? That truly original and brilliant music is being made all around us, even if we are oblivious to its presence.

Narchitect grew, blossomed, and withered before the vast multitudes could seek the comfort in the shade of their genius. We can now only look back on the great potential and scant recordings of this ensemble and wonder how we could have been so oblivious. Here it is, everything we were and are seeking, fortunately preserved in their recordings. The music of Narchitect confirms that greatness is possible in the darkest of times."

--Leonardo Featherweight

Thanks to Josh Bonati, Jason Radich, Aron Sanchez, and Seth Misterka.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Narchitect.

We Are Psychic Friends (Pukekos)
1. Glory Daze
2. Fake Hotel
3. Brazil
4. Instrumental
5. Keep Your Job

Problems Flavored Ice Cream (Pukekos)
1. Fields
2. Gasoline
3. Eliza Jane
4. Go Globalize
5. Crushing the World
6. Garbage Heap
7. Five Song

Narchitect EP (Pukekos)
1. Music School
2. Music is Cool
3. One Hand
4. Can of Soup
5. Horizons
6. Light Bubble

Entitled Waves (Pukekos)
1. Tidal Wave
2. Tips
3. Small Town
4. Zero

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Puttin' On The Ritz

"Puttin' on the Ritz, initially a duo consisting of vocalist BJ Rubin and drummer Kevin Shea, return with a new ensemble, new concept and a new album: White Light/White Heat. This new recording is a re-creation of The Velvet Underground's brilliant second album, done as only Puttin' on the Ritz could. The duo has been expanded to a sextet and includes many of New York's most innovative and creative instrumentalists.

BJ Rubin's relationship to the music of The Velvet Underground is deeply personal. Upon moving to New York City from Oakland, CA in 1999, Rubin found himself living in Harlem and commuting daily with only his walkman to keep him company. For several months he listened to a single cassette over and over again -- on one side was The Velvet Underground and Nico, and on the other, White Light/White Heat. He got to know New York City through The Velvet Underground, and Rubin's passion for and obsession with White Light/White Heat motivated him to recreate the album in its entirety.

The rendering of White Light/White Heat that resulted is part homage, part personal exploration, part deconstruction, and part reinterpretation. Perhaps this is what the original album would have sounded like had Lou Reed and company been members of the Sun Ra Arkestra. In keeping with the spirit of the original, the group spent only two days on the recording, preserving the spontaneity of the Velvet Underground.

The jazz ensemble backing Rubin (Puttin' On The Ritz members Kevin Shea and Moppa Elliott joined by Jon Irabagon, Nate Wooley, and Sam Kulik) delivers a mesmerizing performance. Irabagon's tenor saxophone often spars with Rubin's vocals mimicking the interaction of horn players and vocalists during the swing era. Wooley's use of extended techniques references the distortion and noise so prevalent on the original recording while Kulik's trombone work incorporates many of the microtones, smears and histrionics of punk rock. Matt Motel (of Talibam!) joins the band for the album's final piece, 'Sister Ray', bringing with him a twisted interpretation of jazz organ, similar to that of John Cale.

BJ Rubin is a man of many talents. He worked at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as an associate producer, authors the authoritative indie-rock blog Pukekos, and operates Dick Move Records. He also performs as a comedian and with the jazz-fusion ensemble Odysseus.

Kevin Shea performs 300 shows per year with ensembles such as Talibam!, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, People (with Mary Halvorson), Peter Evans, Karole Armitage, and many, many others.

Moppa Elliott is the leader of Mostly Other People Do the Killing and performs with alice., Jon Lundbom and Big V Chord, and many others. He operates Hot Cup Records which releases jazz and experimental recordings.

Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon is a native of Chicago, IL and winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. His debut album on Concord Records, The Observer was released in the fall of 2009 and he performs regularly with Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Mike Pride, and Mary Halvorson.

Sam Kulik is a trombonist and bassist living in New York City. He performs regularly with Capillary Action, Talibam!, Nervous Cabaret, and his rock band, Starring.

Nate Wooley is one of the most innovative trumpet players of his generation. He has toured and recorded with Paul Lytton, Anthony Braxton and countless other improvising musicians."

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, Puttin' On The Ritz.

White Light/White Heat (Hot Cup)

1. White Light/White Heat
2. The Gift
3. Lady Godiva's Operation
4. Here She Comes Now
5. I Heard Her Call My Name
6. Sister Ray

Just like Sister Ray said:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ballad of the Pukeko

The Pukekos Manifesto:


1. Be careful who you do favors for.
2. Karma is real, but only if you are debt free.
3. One is good, two is better, three is golden but five is best.
4. Nothing is perfect, so intend the mistakes.
5. All systems tend towards equilibrium.
6. Yes.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Karl Hendricks Trio

From the desk of Henry H. Owings:

"I can safely say I've known Karl Hendricks and his music for 20 years. I was going to the University of Pittsburgh in the intensive 11-month MBA program in 1990 and was immersed in my studies. And when I wasn't studying, I was drinking. And when I wasn't drinking, I was seeing shows. And when I wasn't seeing shows, I was buying records with my student loan checks.

I first saw Karl's band Sludgehammer at the Decade Club (RIP) open for King Missile or the Blake Babies in the fall of 1990. I didn't know anything about them other than in their own write up in the local weekly they mentioned Bitch Magnet and Dinosaur so I decided to give them a shot. Now, admittedly, Sludgehammer was a band when they were all in their teens or early 20's, but I still love the hell out of their singles. The drummer was a teenage Ian Williams who has gone on to acclaim as the gum-cracking noodle-meister in Don Caballero, Storm And Stress and Battles. However, at the time, Ian was a janitor at UPitt and a friend that lived only a few houses down from me down in the South Oakland neighborhood near my school.

One night I went to a basement to see Nation of Ulysses perform in Squirrel Hill and ran into Ian. I had twisted both of my ankles while running earlier that week and was on crutches and was able to get Ian to have his bandmate Karl Hendricks give me a ride home after a requisite stop at the local diner for coffee and french fries. Karl was a very soft-spoken guy who I later would run into at Jim's Records over the bridge in Bloomfield and would thrust any one of a number of records into my hand ranging from Vertigo to (the newly released) Slint.

When I moved to Athens, I kept in touch with Karl and when he sent me the Karl Hendricks Trio's first LP Buick Elektra I was hooked. Immediately. He put out that first record on his own Peas Kor label, but it wasn't long before everybody wanted to put out his records. Local labels Mind Cure and Big Ten Rex put out singles and a 10" and Fiasco would release two LPs before Merge would be their permanent home. Er, that is until recently.

Living in Georgia has always made seeing bands difficult, and the Karl Hendricks Trio were no exception. They were to be opening for Smog in 1993 at the Somber Reptile in Atlanta on a Tuesday night and, as was often the case, I drove down solo to see the gig. After offering to have the band stay at my place back in Athens (an hour away), there was an announcement over the PA asking for me to come to the phone. My then-girlfriend was on the line telling me her grandfather had died and that I needed to come back home. So with the band totally understanding my predicament, I saw their gig and immediately left for home. So that was the only time I ever saw Karl and his Trio perform. And so it goes....

In the seventeen years since, Karl has released an armful of LPs and singles for Merge and toured modestly. He still works behind the counter at a record store in Pittsburgh and is busy with his wife and kids when not playing his own music."

H20: So without making you type paragraph upon paragraph, can you tell me how your Trio started?
KH: At the time (1990-1991), I considered Sludgehammer the 'main' band I was in.  But I had also been writing songs before Sludgehammer, ones that you could probably describe as a bit more sincere, perhaps.  I recorded these songs on a four track and put out three cassettes between 1989-1991.  Tim Parker and Tom Hoffman were good friends of mine -- and big fans of the cassettes.  To make a long story short, they encouraged me to start a band with them with the purpose of playing these 'other' songs.  And that soon became much more serious for me than Sludgehammer had been.  The first Karl Hendricks Trio show was Dec. 31, 1991 -- the New Year's Eve crowd was pretty excited, which was a good start for the band.  We recorded Buick Electra a couple of weeks after that.

H20: It seems like the records you were doing in the early 90's were similar to records being put out in remote pockets in the US (Seam in Chicago and Silkworm in Seattle immediately come to mind). Why do you think that is?
KH: Well, I was a big fan of both of those bands, though I didn't hear Silkworm until a couple of years later (1994-1995ish).  I am certainly a fan of a vast variety of music, but I can't deny that the indie rock from that period (slightly post-SST/Homestead and slightly pre-Nirvana fallout) hit me at the exact moment that I was kind of figuring out who I was (as a person and a musician). 

H20: Peas Kor. That was your label, but why did you go from putting out the first single to letting Mind Cure (and later Fiasco, then Merge) put your records out?
KH: Though I enjoyed being able to release my own cassettes and then the first 7" and LP, I did it more out of necessity than wanting to be in control of the process.  When other people approached me about putting out records, I quickly jumped at the opportunity (maybe sometimes too quickly).  In retrospect, I wish I had approached Merge even earlier -- and I'm pretty sad that they no longer want to put out the Karl Hendricks Trio records.  But I'll keep trying to make records, even if (reluctantly) I have to put them out myself.

H20: How much have you toured? Any notable tourmates?
KH: We toured with some regularity between 1993-1996.  But even then it was light by some bands' standards, maybe 25-35 shows a year.  Since then, it's been more sporadic -- kids and jobs make it harder, but the band has changed line-ups every few years, too.  We did a fair amount of shows in 2003 after The Jerks Win Again (the last Merge album) came out.  And last year, we played about six out of town shows, which compared to how little we've been touring seemed like a lot.  Probably my favorite bands to tour with (in terms of both music and friendship) have been Small 23, Kind of Like Spitting and the Kyle Sowashes (and those three bands cover a wide range of years).  Otherwise, the one tour with Superchunk was great, as was an early tour with Smog.

H20: Were there any critical moments living in Pittsburgh that directed your song writing? 
KH: I grew up near McKeesport, a dying mill town about half an hour away from Pittsburgh.  I have to think something about that has shaped my personality and my songwriting.  Otherwise, I think my songwriting in recent years is probably a reflection of trying to both simultaneously pay attention to and ignore the world -- and that's a tension I would probably feel anywhere.

H20: Were you dumped by girls a lot or were girls just a good lyrical mine to go digging?
KH: As a teenager, it felt like 'a lot'.  But reflecting on it about twenty-some years later, I think I had a tendency to exaggerate my emotions.  And early on, that did turn out to be a good lyrical mine -- because nearly every young person sees him or herself as the center of their universe and so lots of listeners could relate to those songs.  But I'm glad that I've found other themes for songs since then (at least I think I have, though I can imagine someone making the case that I haven't really).

H20: In some reviews, The Karl Hendricks Trio were called 'mopecore' or 'sadcore'. Do you think that's a reasonable assessment?
KH: I suppose.  The above answers might also shed some light on this question.  

H20: I always loved your early singles. You ever considered releasing a singles compilation?
KH: Yes.  To all interested record labels:  let the bidding war begin.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your listening pleasure, The Karl Hendricks Trio.

I Hate This Party (Peas Kor)
1. She's The Shit
2. Fuck Shit Up
3. Beergasm
4. Ride You Home

Baseball Cards b/w Smarty Pants (Mind Cure)
1. Baseball Cards
2. Smarty Pants

Checking You Out b/w Valentine Melody (Mind Cure)
1. Checking You Out
2. Valentine Melody

Hooked On Hobbit (Egg Yolk)
1. Catch The Wind (The Karl Hendricks Trio)
2. I Love My Shirt (Mothra)

What Everyone Else Calls Fun b/w A Boy Who Plays With Dolls (Merge)
1. What Everyone Else Call Fun
2. A Boy Who Plays With Dolls

Live In Pittsburgh (Self)
1. Live At The Beehive 5.18.92

Live In Atlanta (Self)
1. Live At Somber Reptile 10.25.93

Live In Chicago (Self)
1. Live at Lounge Ax 12.31.93

Live In St. Louis (Self)
1. Live At Cicero's 10.12.95