Table of Contents: Music


Kabel

Two splendid specimens of Kabel, a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in Germany and released in 1927. Further geekery -The  L’eggs name, package and logo were created by designer Roger Ferriter, working in legendary typographer Herb Lubalin‘s studio in 1969. And, of course we have the James order vicodin online from canada Gang to thank for the indestructible boogie of Funk #49Sleep all day, out all night / I know where you’re goin’ / I don’t think that’s actin’ right / You don’t think it’s showin’, etc… (L’eggs logo from over at so much pileup)

Bright Young Things, Pt. 2: Bowie Edition

Fascinating! So, I’m searching online for some an image along the theme of “bright young things” to accompany last week’s post of Muriel Sparks’ poem The Yellow Room. I come across a fragmentary result identifying Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies as the wellspring for David Bowie’s theatrical, spent, and off-kilter masterpeice Aladdin Sane (Vile Bodies? a hilarious, disjointed 1930’s Bright Lights Big City about the careening, hedonistic society set in the 20’s… excellent overview here.)

…the notion seemed familiar, like I had read it somewhere, but vague. The link led to a lovingly preserved recreation of a mesmerizing article from a July 1973 Circus Magazine. (On the cover Alice Cooper, Uriah Heep, free Robert Plant calendar, Seals and Crofts, and Marc Bolan)

The article was entitled “Bowie Sees America in Flames – the inside story of Aladdin Sane” This is relatively familiar territory for Bowie-philes… discussing it he’s always framed the album as Ziggy goes to America (The Velvet shout-outs, Detroit, Sunset & Vine, etc…) and discovers an near apocalyptic decadence.

In the Circus article, though Bowie, says flat out that the idea for Sane burst from him nearly fully formed while reading Vile Bodies, as the full circus of American rock celebrity and decadent notoriety is erected around him.

David Bowie sat in an overstuffed armchair in his suite aboard the ship Ellinis, returning to London from his first triumphal tour of the States. His delicate brows knit in a look of perplexed recognition as he read Evelyn Waugh’s “Vile Bodies” – a 40 year-old, futuristic novel about a society of “bright young things” whirling through lavish parties in outlandish costumes, dancing, gossiping and sipping champagne.  Suddenly David lowered the book to his lap, picked up the spiral notebook and pen sitting on the small mahogany table at his side, and began to write the words to the title song of his new LP, Aladdin Sane

“The book dealt with London in the period buy vicodin prescription just before a massive, imaginary war.” David would later confide, touching one finger, with its green-painted nail, lightly to his chin.  “People were frivolous, decadent and silly.  And suddenly they were plunged into this horrendous holocaust.  They were totally out of place, still thinking about champagne and parties and dressing up.  Somehow it seemed to me that they were like people today.” But who was the frivolous, romantic young man Aladdin Sane?  At first David merely cupped his hands in a fragile cage and said “I don’t really think he’s me.”  Several days later, Bowie realised who – or rather what – the song, and in fact the entire album, were about.  “It’s my interpretation of what America means to me.  It’s like a summation of my first American tour.”

Knowing this goes along way towards explaining a distinctive stylistic coloring to the record – a dandyish swing that now makes perfect sense in light of the disjointed flapper flamboyance in Vile Bodies. (Songs like “Prettiest Star,” the title track, and especially “Lady Grinning Soul”for your pleasure, below –  are fuller, fed by their associations with the novel.)

Watching him dash away, dragging
an old bouquet-dead roses
Sake and strange divine.
Um-m-m-m-you’ll make it
Passionate bright young things,
take him away to war-
..don’t fake it.
Who’ll love Aladdin Sane
Battle cries & champagne just in
time for sunrise…

The whole article is a must read. There’s a great Philly shout out, highlighting that Bowie was “one of the even fewer rock performers to attract a following so large in one city (Philadelphia) that he was forced to play there nine nights in a row.” Also, there are walk-ones by Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, Wayne County, Iggy Pop, Cyrinda Foxe and, my personal fave, punk publicist Cherry Vanilla. (profiled a year ago on the blog, here) Seriously, read it.

David Bowie: Prettiest Star [download]

[audio:http://shepelavy.com/audio/PrettiestStar.mp3]

David Bowie: Aladdin Sane [download]

[audio:http://shepelavy.com/audio/AladdinSane.mp3]

David Bowie: Lady Grinning Soul [download]

[audio:http://shepelavy.com/audio/LadyGrinningSoul.mp3]

Sonic Youth: Simon Werner A Disparu

Sonic Youth’s relationship to the visual arts is ardent and sincere. They share a sensibility with the downtown gallery scene they so clearly adore –  a mix of undiscerning hipsterism & progressive aesthetic instincts. On the positive side you get Gerhard Richter’s lovely candle painting on Daydream Nation, John Fahey’s expressionistic swirl on The Eternal. On the ‘meh, there’s Christopher Wool’s clunky stencils on Rather Ripped, Mike Kelley’s smart-alecky puppet on Dirty, and Richard Prince’s lazy, easy, smeary nurse on Sonic Nurse. And then there’s Raymond Pettibon. Look, his work is unimpeachable as shorthand for the glory days of LA hardcore, but I think they think he’s a talent for the ages. Feh. To be fair, though, they did get as good of a Pettibon as you can get for Goo. Thei covers for their artier, self released SYR series have been sharp but rather perfunctory takes on classic sound library records of the 60’s and 70’s. Their latest release under the imprint, a soundtrack for the French director Fabrice Gobert’s high-school mystery Simon Werner a Disparu, is a total stunner – a gorgeous, highly graphic vignette, and ace piece of prep-school pop art!

For Your Pleasure, 2010

OFF!, in which the Circle Jerks’ Keith Morris, 55, records the de facto sequel to Black Flag’s Nervous Breakdown EP 32 years later – proving just how elusive pure punk is, creating a flat-out total work of art, and this year’s best record. The irrepressible egghead’s Small Craft on a Milk Sea has this year’s best title and a suite of exquisite ambient constructions, of which “2 Forms of Anger” is the “loud one.”

Of Montreal’s False Priest was a flamboyant mess sloshing around the precision glam of Coquet Coquette – my favorite song of the year. “Silver Jenny Dollar” is a cat’s cradle of baroque obliqueness from Dan Bejar, this time with loungy doo-wop whoah whoahs – the high point of the otherwise okie doke New Pornographers disc, Together.  (Thanks as well, New Pornos, for the tip-offs on Outrageous Cherry and Circle C – the northern lands do hold obscure and wonderful mysteries.)

The 40 years that separate the hand crafted psych of Kelley Stoltz and Big Boy Pete mean little – fitting then that these two consummate craftsmen have found each other. Their co-recording of Pete’s “Baby I’ve Got News For You” anchors Kelley’s uniformly excellent To Dreamers.

Bless you, whoever finally digitized “Magnetic Shoes,” a one and a half minute spray of power pop silly string that ruled my Walkman in high school. “The Day the Earth Stalled” and “Diego Garcia” are ace sides from old heads… The Psychedelic Furs played the best show I saw this year; honorable, too, going out like they came in, playing blistering sets in smaller halls, rather than jiving for tourists at casinos.

You are a talented man Mr. Murphy. Good to have you back Mr. Foxx.

Music Go Music? Melodramatic Scandinavian pop, shot through with heavy doses of prog, and alternating between pulsing euro disco and lush orchestrated pop – recorded in 2008, released in 2009, discovered in 2010, and my most favorite new band in ages…

I developed a weakness this year for what Robert Christgau, in a helplessly admiring review of Quarterflash’s 1981 debut, called “music for stewardesses.” “Goodbye To You” is a prime example of the form and its enduring awesomeness needs no further annotation.

Thank you Roky, for returning, and Captain, for being.

DOWNLOAD THE COMP, HERE. Happy New Year!

The Free Design’s Chris Dedrick: 1943-2010

Sad news. Chris Dedrick, the lead singer/songwriter for ’60s cult favorite lite-psych group the Free Design died last Friday… One of the great critical faves/commercial flop stories in rock, their complex harmonies, deceptively simple melodies, orchestral arrangements were hugely influential for many retro-inclined indie bands, most notably Stereolab.

Their first album, Kites are Fun, produced by space-age pop maestro Enoch Light, is a classic, and contains their finest single moment – “The Proper Ornaments.” The song is a rare thing indeed – a flower-power indictment of shallow consumerism and suburban detachment that actually convinces – with quietly devastating power:

There’s your brand new car, sir, here’s your hat and gloves
There’s http://www.mindanews.com/buy-accutane/ your pretty wife, sir, whom you almost love
There’s your color TV set and your impressive pad
There’s your little baby girl you’re almost glad you had

Such a pretty dress, miss, such a graceful walk
Bubbling femininity, authoritative talk
There’s your man he’s prominent; treats you like a queen
All your little secrets kept, your reputations clean
The proper ornaments of life.

It’s all about the ominous “almost…” I’ve always thought it should have been the opening theme to Mad Men – it concentrates the entire existential drama of Don Draper into just under three minutes. Listen, below. More info in their career and records here.

Free Design: Proper Ornaments [download]

[audio:http://shepelavy.com/audio/FreeDesign_ProperOrnaments.mp3]

Raygun… Naked Raygun.

Everything I love about the legendary Chicago band Naked Raygun is embedded somewhere on this, the cover of their latest 7.” A foxy cat-suited astro-cutie making a space jump while trailing a 50’s era satellite is not only awesomeness incarnate, it’s a great distillation of the whole Naked Raygun vibe.

Raygun filtered basic anxieties through the context of their cultural obsessions: comics (esp. Batman,) post apocalyptic movies, cold war espionage, car mechanics, and oddball dictators, to name a few at random. The result was muscular, brainy and cool and it extended to every facet of the band – amazing songs, striking album art, and effortless swagger & charisma (plus one of the great logos in rock – that raygun-R is the only tattoo I’ve seriously considered.) Recording again after close to a decade, it’s easily my favorite record art of the year, and a most welcome return.

Naked Raygun: Just for Me (B-Side) [download]

[audio:http://shepelavy.com/audio/NakedRaygun_Justforme.mp3]

Single of the Week: Plain Wrap B/W Fashion

Two bands in their unformed early days stumble headlong into recording classic sides of timeless power pop. In 1983 Plain Wrap were freshmen in SoCal’s hardcore punk scene, opening for the Crowd, DI, TSOL, Adolescents and Social Distortion. Their first single Magnetic Shoes is a one and a half minute continuous spray of day-glo power pop silly string. (This version is off the legendary Flipside Vinyl Fanzine comp, complete with their bratty prank call to Billy Idol’s manager)

Fashion formed in 1981 in Birmingham, UK, with a lumpy mix of punk, early New Romantic synth and splashes of dub reggae. The B-Side of their third single Sodium Pentathol Negative, is a hot mess of melodramatic Bowie damaged art-rock poured into Joe Jackson’s suit and cut to trim. (It’s among the many high points on IRS Records Greatest Hits Vol 1 & 2, along with cuts from the Stranglers, John Cale, the Fall, and Buzzcocks)

Both songs sound like they were composed in front of a mirror and, frankly, sound best in front of one. They’re the kind of obscurities that make you form bands in your head just so you can imagine covering them in your encore…

Plain Wrap: Magnetic Shoes:

Fashion: Sodium Pentathol Negative:

Single of the week: Waterloo Sunset b/w September Gurls

Big Star’s September Gurls and the Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset – Their respective jaw dropping awesomeness is well established and beyond dispute, yes, and Waterloo is held by many to be the most sheerly beautiful song rock and roll has produced. Still, for the past couple of days I’ve see-saw-ing wildly between them trying to decide, in the end, which song is just a bit more gorgeous.

What’s fascinating about the songs how similar they are – from a certain vantage, they are practically cousins. Musically they share a basic structure – a seemingly haphazard and unstable combination of gossamer delicacy and muscular sinew. That fragile balance underscores the the poignancy of each song perfectly – in the case of Waterloo a single life affirming moment when Paradise blooms on earth – while with Gurls, the way we drift back and forth from heartache to resignation and back again. And each seems on the verge of flying apart, mimicking the impermanence, hence the magic, of life itself.

I dunno… I think in the end September Gurls gets the nod. When I fall down the rabbit hole of Waterloo Sunset my reverie is intense but short. The sunset is Ray Davies’ vision, not mine, and it never really transfers. Where as with Gurls, the needle always drops down somewhere deep in my memories and I feel like I could fall between the spaces of “I loved you” and “Well never mind” and September and December forever.

Big Star: September Gurls:

Kinks: Waterloo Sunset:


 

John Foxx

Some photographs and art by John Foxx. Foxx, driven to merge his love of the cracked pop art of Roxy Music with the exhilarating rush and tabloid sensibilities of the Sex Pistols, formed the first, and still astonishing, version of Ultravox! He left to pursue purely electronic music, and under the name Dennis Leigh, established himself as a successful graphic designer and artist, working on book covers for Salman Rushdie and Anthony Burgess, among others.

Critic Robert Christgau offered a typically astringent and succinct summation of Ultravox! – “John Foxx’s detached, creamy baritone works against the instrumentation’s electronic cast for a streamlined rocksy music that suits titles like “Dislocation” and “Someone Else’s Clothes.” But unlike Bryan Ferry Foxx talks as if he’s detached clean through, unlike Brian Eno he’s encumbered by delusions of existential significance, and unlike both he’s never funny”

Dead on, yes, but… Foxx’s detachment and existential musings led him to the two great themes that have animated his work ever since – the idea of the Quiet Man and London Overgrown. From these two themes he has build a rich, self sustaining aesthetic world that comprises music, photography, fashion, and in a modest way, philosophy.

The Quiet Man is, in essence, a new wave take on the man with the grey flannel suit which Foxx inhabits, literally. Dressed in a ordinary buy vicodin legally online uk grey suit, Foxx embarks on long treks where he explores the full texture of urban anonymity. London Overgrown is a sustained rumination on nature subsuming the modern urban landscape. His musings on both, well worth reading, can be found here, on his comprehensive blog/site.

What is worthwhile here are not the themes themselves – as notions they are familiar to any thoughtful person – but the quality body of work Foxx has wrought from them. The first three Ultravox! records, the pioneering solo work like the minimalist synth of Metamatic, the pastoral electronic pop of the Garden, ambient pieces, and his continued and concurrent exploration of these themes in music, video, photography, and writing, are all worthwhile.

He has a great new single out under the moniker John Foxx and the Maths, aptly described by the UK Arts Desk as ” a very deliberate step back into his own past for a couple of songs that sound as if they were minted in 1980… acelebration of old analogue sounds in collaboration with producer and synthesizer archivist extraordinaire, Benge. Both songs are flecked with requisite android moodiness but stand up in their own right rather than sounding like retro pastiches.” Available on itunes here. More selections below.

Ultravox!: Young Savage (Peel Session):

Ultravox!: Artifical Life:

 

Klaus Nomi Paper Cuts

Every Monday could use a little Nomi! (Nomi? huh? click here.) Herewith, please find, for your charmed enjoyment, these rather fab Klaus Nomi collages by Hormazd Narielwalla. His works mixes fashion sketches and photos clippings along with bits of bespoke Saville Row paper patterns – stylish and whimsical. More of his work here. (spotted at Madame Says, a confectionery cavalcade of fashion, art and music. Visit often.)

Music Go Music!

Let us now praise Expressions by Music Go Music…Holy smokes! I haven’t been this over the moon for a record in ages.

OK,then. Let’s get the obligatory description-by-reference out of the way… ABBA merged with the New Pornographers, under the influence of Van der Graaf Generator, the whole shebang co-produced by Giogrio Moroder and Jeff Lynne. That is, melodramatic Scandinavian pop, reinterpreted with savvy indie enthusiasm, shot through with a proggy, theatrical sensibility, and sonically alternating between pulsing euro disco and lush orchestrated pop.

But the pastiche of references does poor justice to the brilliance and originality of the record. Music Go Music sublimate their http://www.mindanews.com/buy-valtrex/ references into a set of absolutely killer songs and proceed to play the bejeebus out of them. It’s absolutely, genuinely, exhilarating. (The only trace of hipster irony I can detect is in the lazy faux squareness of the name. I mean, I’m all for plainspoken band names, but c’mon – lets try for something at least as distinct as, I dunno… Electric. Light. Orchestra….) Anyway, a quibble only. For your pleasure, 2 tracks, below. Also, a series of live performances, cryptic bio and more, here. Preview and purchase, here.

Music Go Music: I Walk Alone:

Music Go Music: Reach Out:

 

Some cover art…

What dandy cover art! With Cluster, it is the wonderfully plump, shiny, hand wrought type. It actually looks frosted – perfect considering Zuckerzeit is German for sugary. The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys cover is dead on deadpan pop art. Both covers embody perfectly their respective contents – Cluster’s warm, gently insistent, pulsing analog electronics feel practically glazed in liquid sugar. As for the Cure, it captures the detached, nervous, pop vibe that lasted for one only odd and awesome record (and it’s American counterpart Boys Don’t Cry) before all the gloomy gloom…

Leesa Leva

So, searching last night for some info on Berlin singer Terri Nunn (no sniggering, tough guy… Metro and Masquerade are two flat out masterpieces and Sex I’m A… is the trashy love child of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love and Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime… moi non plus) and what do I come across, but these stunning order vicodin online uk illustrations by Leesa Leva. Its the tone – the mix of new wave and celebrity fixations and her delicate, sketchy technique – it’s sexy & knowing and sincere & crafty at the same time… an intoxicating mix, and a real hard one to pull off. Bravo! More of her work, and a shop, here.

For Your Pleasure, 2009

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I discovered Mew the day after they played a show for the ages in Philly. Argh. If the dragon on the cover of the Asia record and the aardvark tank on the cover of ELP’s Tarkus had a band they would sound like Mew. Fantasies, by Metric, was a grower. At first I thought it was hazy and unfocused, now I think it’s hazy and sexy, which is better. Lissy Trullie is the kind of rock they play at photoshoots, and by all rights I should hate it on it’s too-cool for school-ness alone. Nope. Love it. Lissy gets the flannel and leather CBGBs merit ribbon.

LaRoux’s retro synth pop confection shuts off the noggin and cues the shimmy. There is chrome cheese all over Invisible Limits, a hopelessly obscure 80’s German dark synth band, but it rules my late night headphoning when my resolve is weak. Rheingold are also German, but sharper and smarter and can be played proudly in the sober light of morning. The Photos were supposed to be Britain’s answer to Blondie. Oh well. Clothidle is a brilliantly odd side of old French pop – France Gall aboard Joe Meek’s Telstar.

Silver Jews, Algebra Suicide, the Wipers, and Giant Sand – weird that we should only meet now. God Help the Girl – thanks for introducing me to the Divine Comedy of Neil Hannon. Tortoise! Tortoise! Tortoise! Welcome back!

Some slivers of nostalgia. The home digitized 7″ of “All Ages Show” by Dag Nasty smells of clove cigarettes and VFW halls. The Dead Kennedys mature over time as well as Iron Maiden – from my fogy vantage Frankenchrist has become a deeply arty pleasure. And a ripping hardcore record. DI’s 2007 resurgence is a bitchin‘ validation of the awesomeness of OC punk.

At this point Dan Bejar’s Destroyer dwells in some magical Baroque hotel of blissed out self indulgence, across the hall from Jimmy Webb and drunk thespian Richard Harris. “Bay of Pigs” is his “MacArthur Park” – ridiculous, sublime, and, yes, drunk.

Morrissey released this year’s best record, Years of Refusal.

[Download the comp, here.]

Front cover image: William Merritt Chase, The Tenth Street Studio, c. 1880
Back cover image: Wingate Paine, from Mirror of Venus, 1964-65

Petula Clark

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Found these while sourcing images for a painting of Petula Clark. As a photoshoot concept for a star, I’m a little confused – Let’s shoot Petula in, oh, I don’t know… Flagstaff, Arizona shopping for nick nacks, ticky tacks and postcards? As shots though, I’m besotted. Clarks’ a mod little pixie, and the photos have this great Stephen Shore, auto tourister snapshot vibe. (from the Life Magazine photo archive)