Playing Hopscotch

Playing Hopscotch

Outsight brings to light non-mainstream music, film, books, art, ideas and opinions.

Published, somewhere, monthly since July 1991. Feel free to re-print this article.

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Ratings are (1) = :(, (5) = 🙂

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Sundays 6pm-8pm EST


Hopscotch Records is a vibrant
label with a full catalogue of modern free jazz recommended for fans of Aum
Fidelity, cutting edge jazz on Thirsty Ear and the like. Four albums from the
label have kept my CD carousel occupied for several days. Each is a unique ensemble
and similarly packaged in three-color cardboards folder with an indie aesthetic
approaching punk rock design principles. Among the revolving cast is pianist/percussionist
Cooper-Moore and Chicago Underground drummer Chad Taylor. Along with bassist
Tom Abbs, this trio is on the album Triptych Myth. Cooper-Moore is in
a duo setting with reeds man Assif Tsahar who also plays a little classical
guitar on America. This album leads with a vocal title track (music on
the four discs is generally instrumental) with a tone and message similar to
Allen Ginsberg’s Howl. The music is also more basic, more primitive and
even rural (“Back Porch Chill”), but still very lively. Tsahar is in another
duo with percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani on Come Sunday. That album is
like stormy weather; it ebbs between a rage and quiescence. JAM, another
very worthy album, features Mat Maneri on five-string electric violin with Tsahar
again and Jim Black on drums.

TKO Trio

Less is More is rare oi/street punk tracks from Wretched Ones’ entire
history. These tracks are all making a CD debut and are all from small label
7″ releases like Force Majeure, Headache, Black Hole and more. There are also
seven unlisted bonus tracks, apparently all covers. I was able to identify six:
Minor Threat’s “Good Guys (Don’t Wear White)”, “Pirate Love” (New York Dolls), “No More
Heroes” (Stranglers), Connie Francis’ “Lipstick On Your Collar”. AC/DC’s “Live
Wire” and “America The Beautiful” What is the other? … Those Unknown offers
a collection of rare street punk material called Scraps. This covers
the years 1991-6 and all songs are either previously unreleased or long out
of print. 15 of the 16 tracks have never been on CD before… Hearkening back
to the original oi sound is Atlanta’s Adolf & The Piss Artists. Adolf and company’s
new CD on TKO is Hate Generator and it follows up on its promise of no-holds-barred
hard punk

to or Buy Wretched Ones at

to or Buy Those Unknown at

READABLES ***************************************


Friendly Rich calls his book/CD combination
release “an anti-music video”. The single track is matched with an illustration
of its narrative lyrics in Magnified Lyle (Pumpkin
Pie Corporation
). The work concludes with a reading of dramatic personae,
which adds to its theatrical quality. It is a morbid tale of a child’s ant-burning
antics becoming a global holocaust. Fans of Captain Beefheart lyrics (one line:
“her melanoma chuckled”) and Tom Green’s humor will appreciate this… Elaborating
on this theme, Friendly Rich offers the cryptic De Rien. This is a collection
of essays and poems along with a “listening activity” called Mercy. No
track listing accompanies the CD, which in this case does not follow the text.
The audio is live audio miscellany and field recordings from a carousel organ
rally. The two are “blended” for your schizophrenic pleasure. However De
is not presently commercially available. Hear Rich himself discuss
these projects and earlier works in a series of three audio interviews produced
by Outsight Radio Hours at

Various Authors
Nude Tent Torso, Issue No. 1: The Pink Couch Project
Vireonyx Publications, POB 431147, Pontiac,
MI 48343-1147

This premier issue of Nude Tent Torso is a collaboration of authors on the theme
of a pink couch. Generally, the writing takes a humorous direction as the many
manifestations of the pink couch takes on mythic proportions in mock-honorific
poetry, short stories, graphics, and even a script. Some of the most memorable
pieces are “The Pink Couch Periodic Table Project” (multiple authors), the imaginary
film reviews of “Pink Couch Cinema: Films from the Pink Couch Film Festival”
(my favorite, by Mark Ashley), and Denise Thomas’ surrealistic piece that begins
“Fresh baked pandemonium/tattooed on a pink couch”. (3.5)

All Music
All Music Guide to Country, 2nd Ed.
Backbeat Books

With country music and its manifestations reaching ever deeper into the world’s
cultural psyche, All Music offers this in-depth encyclopedic guide to the massive
genre. The book covers the extended bluegrass scene given greater popularity
by O Brother Where Art Thou? with entries from the close harmony traditionalists
Osborne Brothers to such progressives as Darrell Scott. Doc Watson gets four
pages and the FM country scene from Dwight Yoakam to popular Western swing revivalists
Asleep at the Wheel is here. The alt-country scene is present, too, covered
from Bloodshot recording artist Robbie Fulks to the popular Old 97’s. The entries
are in the expected form for these successful All Music cyclopedias. That is,
biographies and then key reviews with recommended starting points. This makes
for over 10,000 rated reviews. The well-indexed tome includes style descriptions,
a section for compilations, soundtracks, essential albums by genre and two dozen
rich essays on aspects of country music, like “Country on Film” and “Country
Soundtracks”. This is an invaluable resource for the serious fan of any part
of the varied country music spectrum. Where else would you find that The Residents,
Savoy Brown and Elvis Costello all drew on the early ’70s countrified British
pub rock group Chilli Willi & the Red Hot Peppers for members? (5)

More on the book from

Farming Uncle International Journal
No. 92, Winter 2003-04
Box 427, Bronx, NY 10458

Farming Uncle is a self-described "alternative network magazine
devoted to holistic living." The quarterly is a photocopied and saddle-stitched
digest. Small classifieds and quips and tips on life and land-based liberty
make up the bulk of the journal. There is also a few interesting agrarian reprints,
like a piece on beekeeping in Syria and a advertising paean to the Welsummer
breed of fowl. Recipes can also be found here. (3)

VINYL REVIEWS ***************************************

Various Artists
Best Bands Forever
Bingo Lady Records

The upper Midwest bands The Front (Casper,
WY) and 1090 Club (Billings, MT) gives
us a dose of remote punk on this split seven-inch. The A-Side is an alternate
version of “Quarantine” by The Front, which is a punk ballad of sublimated intensity.
The band is quite excited about this version of the song being the group’s vinyl
debut on this limited edition of 500 copies of transparent wax. And they should
be, it is well worth hearing. 2090 Club’s “Some Equals One” is a shimmering
gem of indie pop confection, which blends well since The Front pulled in the
reins so much. (3.5)

The Neurotic Swingers
Art Rats
Demolition Derby

This French punk rock band offers an old-school sound on this LP. The band draws
heavily on the North American punk tradition, like Teenage Head, The Saints,
Dead Boys and New York Dolls. Another influence is France’s Dogs. “Nineteen”
on this album is a cover from that band. So, this is a very hard rock-influenced
take on punk with heavy riffs and pronounced choruses. (3.5)

Leg Hounds
Leg Hounds
Demolition Derby

New York punk rock groups (New York Dolls, Dictators) and ’60s trash rock (Sonics,
Wailers) inspire this band. However the Wisconsin group also has a melodic and
romantic streak that allows for such ballads as “Too Late”. This is a fun and
rocking album that is a time capsule of what was cool and underground thirty
years ago and remains vital today. (3)

The Master Plan
Colossus of Destiny
Demolition Derby

This is an LP-only release of a New York supergroup of sorts by Demolition Derby.
Keith Streng is on guitar and vocals here, as he was in The Fleshtones, as was
drummer Bill Milhizer. Making for a good two-guitar lineup is Paul “Peppermint”
Johnson (Waxing Poetics). Also adding vocals, as do all members, is bassist Andy
Shernoff (The Dictators). The music is fun, a blast of ’60s garage rock. Everyone
but Milhizer is credited with songwriting, which contributes to the variety of
this great rock-n-roll record. With all the history in this band, you know some
cool covers are going to happen. That happens on side two. We get here a version
of Lloyd Price’s “Just Because” (also recorded by Freddy Fender), “Annie Had a
Baby” the answer song to “Work with me Annie”, “Broken Arrow” (Chuck Berry) and
Eastern Dark’s Australian garage pop classic “Walking”. (4)


“Straight” b/w “The Creature in Disguise”

Tsar places itself between joyously rocking glam that is in no way self-conscious
and the eerie, guitar based goth rock sound that gave us Bauhaus and Siouxsie
Sioux. Shades of that goth loom over the B-Side “The Creature in Disguise”. “Straight”
is an anthem to glam throwbacks in the spirit of New York Dolls delivered with
Dead Boys passion. (4)

DVD REVIEWS ***************************************

William S. Burroughs
Commissioner of Sewers
Screen Edge/MVD

To a backdrop of music by Jorge Reyes, Fish for Fish, F.M. Einheit, and Burroughs
this DVD treats the viewer to Burroughs readings, interviews and film excerpts.
Films excerpted include Thanksgiving Prayer (Gus van Sant), Decoder
(Maeck/Muscha) and the Antony Balch films Towers Open Fire, The Cut Ups
and Ghosts at No. 9. Through able editing, eye-catching images and good
pacing, filmmaker Klaus Maeck makes this film an entertaining and enlightening
documentary on the ideas, persona and style of the full developed Burroughs
mind. One common theme throughout is excerpts of a TV interview with German
writer Jurgen Ploog. Ploog awkwardly hits Burroughs with such topics as the
possibility of an afterlife and the old standby “advice for young authors”.
Particularly entertaining is how Burroughs handles this series of unrelated
questions by using each answer to go into an attacking response or tangent much
more interesting than the question promised. (4)

on the DVD from

The Residents
Demons Dance Alone DVD
Euro Ralph/MVD

The Residents were early in the game on music videos (One Minute Movies),
synthesizer experimentation (use of the emulator) and user interactive CD-ROMs
(Freak Show). Now they dive into nigh vision as a weapon of concert documentation,
now war. While The Residents look ready for war in costumes based on cammo fatigues,
this convert footage is of the most introspective, personal and emotional music
yet to date from the mysterious group. (“Life Would be Wonderful”, “Betty’s
Body”). Attempting to capture the darkened stage flooded with infrared light
presented a range of difficulties for these musical technophiles. After digital
processing The Residents came up with this DVD inviting us up on to the stage
to see the concert from the point of view of an all-access band member’s pass.
A bonus extras section is a slide show of images from Icky Flix, Kettles
of Fish, Eskimo
, and Disfigured Night. (3.5)

on the DVD from

Various Artists
The 1962 Newport Jazz Festival
Quantum Leap/MVD

The visual quality is blurry, but just put this DVD on and enjoy the hot jazz
highpoints of this festival and glance at the screen from time to time, if you
would like. Captured here in small, representative episodes spliced together
are Count Basie, Joe Williams (’50s graduate of the Count Basie Orchestra),
Roland Kirk, Duke Ellington as well as piano greats Thelonious Monk and Oscar
Peterson and more. There are some biographies and discographies rounding out
the hour of audio and video. (3.5)

on the DVD from

CD REVIEWS ***************************************

The Collisions
Talk is the New Action
Windjam Records

Along with “Gasoline Can” and “Amateur”, one standout truck on the post-garage
indie rock album is “Live by Fire, Die by Fire”. That title reminds me of the
Bukowski book “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame”. That leads me to fellow
Bukowski fan Adam Grossman who used that tile for the tile of a Skrew album.
This album from The Collisions reminds me of Grossman’s earlier post-Texas punk
band Angkor Wat, at times. Angkor Wat was doing industrial music with a rock
combo, and it is the focus on heavy, persistent rhythms that is making that
connection for me. However, there is also a wild, unfettered, shrieking theatric
flair for the dramatic that really makes this disc singular and worth listening
to repeatedly. There is also something about a held-back laugh in the extreme
subject matter that suggests gallows humor and may be due to the fact that singer/songwriter/guitarist
Bo Barringer was a one-time gravedigger. All of this comes to a climax in the
trio’s fiery rendition of Robert Johnson’s “Me & The Devil Blues”. (4)

R. Stevie Moore
Nevertheless Optimistic

The eccentric, quirky music of R. Stevie More recalls Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston.
Somewhat damaged pop and exuding a childish charm, this music also grabs the
listener with its catchy, memorable lyrics and spirit of instant joy. R. Stevie
Moore was a leader in the DIY home recording movement and this album selects
from his huge archive of home recordings for a selection covering 1975 – 2003.
Largely short on length, these pieces are long on comedic and cracked pop genius.

Greg Palast
Weapon of Mass Instruction: Live
Alternative Tentacles

With wit and humor Greg Palast delivers a scathing review of the Dubya presidency
on this enhanced CD. The CD contains copies of government documents that Palast
uses as a basis for numerous topics, any one of which should be scandalous.
Topics include mechanizations by King George I to deliver Chevron oil money
to George W.’s campaign fund, Dubya’s draft-dodging tenure in the Texas Air
Guard, connections from questionable Saudi arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi to the
Bush family and murderous gold-grabbing in Tanzania. Learn the name of World
Resource Institute member Tundu Lissu, the source of the video documentation
of those murdered in the mine takeover by Barrick Corporation – a Canadian-American
gold-mining operation that employed George Bush Sr. Perhaps the most explosive
is the revelations about pre-9/11 forced suppression of Bin Laden investigations
by the U.S. government. Palast makes the shocking entertaining with his delivery,
so this is enlightening and fun. Containing its own comedic content is Greg
Palast’s discovery of Katherine Harris’ purge of thousands of Black citizens
from Florida’s voter rolls especially the manic reaction of Harris’ assistant.
The spreadsheet of the dropped voters – some for committing future crimes ala
Minority Report – is included on the CD’s files. (4.5)

to or Buy at

Various Artists
Spiders from Venus: Indie Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover David

Skipping Discs

The long-winded title sums up the angle here. This disc avoids the fate of most
compilations of being uneven with only a few shining tracks. First, the material
is, of course, excellent. The Bowie songbook is sampled from Space Oddity to
Heathen. This includes such songs as “Golden Years”, “Starman” and “Boys Keep
Swinging”. On hand to cover the Bowie material is Lunasect, Switchblade Kittens,
Neil Young’s sister Astrid Young and Essra Mohawk, the critically acclaimed
singer-songwriter that has been making music since the ’60s and was the “Uncle
Meat” of the Mothers of Invention. (3.5)

to or Buy at

Boss Martians
The Set-Up
MuSick Recordings

This is a melodic indie rock album that strays into Elvis Costello-like territory
on “Walk Away” and “He’ll Be Around”. So, this is pretty accessible stuff. This
may be garage punk, but the garage has a new automatic door, is heated and freshly
painted with everything in ship-shape order. This group has left its surf-rock
roots behind for something like polished Joe Jackson, witness the steppin’ out
on “Oh, Angela”. (3)

to or Buy at

Mutant Press
Hole in my Heart
Mutant Press

This is a memorial CD by Jerome T. Youngman, a.k.a. Mutant Press, for his departed
mother. Youngman wrote all the original songs and performed all instruments.
Some of the songs directly etch out the details of sadness and uneasiness that
follow on the loss of a loved on, for example “Fantasy Fix” and “Season of Sad”.
Some are mad-at-the-world type songs (“Creeps at my Door”) and some are just
catharsis, like “Big time with You” and the cover of “Wang Dang Doodle”. Maybe
mom was a Dixon fan. It is amazing how sometimes Mutant Press sounds so much
life Johnny Dowd, witness “Let’s Float Away” and “Big time with You”. (3)

Mountain Mirrors
Lunar Ecstasy
Mountain Mirrors

Mountain Mirrors strives for a psychedelic rock sound that draws on Led Zeppelin
and Black Sabbath for its guitar style without quite reaching the same heights.
A lot of the beats are down tempo electro-beats. The genre blend is either dynamic
and vital or keeps the whole thing off-balance, depending on your point of view.
The album has its highpoints and is well produced. Lunar Ecstasy is recommended
if you like late-period Pink Floyd. (2.5)

to or Buy at

The Bobbyteens
Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’
Estrus Records

The basic, punk rock of The Bobbyteens draws much from The Ramones and New York
Dolls. The brazen ladies of the band seem to be of the kiss-and-tell variety.
The group dispenses with foreplay and launches right into a tale of the bathroom
wall (“Jenny”) as well as the total lack of hidden meaning in “Hot Sweet ‘n’
Sticky”. One of the highpoints it the album is the cover of “He’s So Dull” done
originally by the Prince spin-off female trio Vanity 6. While the brassy punk
attitude of The Bobbyteens does not remind one of Vanity 6’s pop/new wave blend,
both bands feature three women waving a flag of wild, decadent, and trashy entertainment
for your listening and fantasizing pleasure. (3.5)

to or Buy at

The Black Keys
The Moan

The Black keys has so incorporated the Delta juke joint hard-liquor blues sound
that the duo of Patrick Carney (percussion) and Dan Auerbach (guitar/vocals)
sounds out with deep-rooted authenticity on each track of this 4-song CDEP.
The primitive instrumentation and raw blues sound is gritty and substantial.
Auerbach does not feel it necessary to growl aloud like Jon Spencer, but instead
lets flow melodically, if disjointedly, and the vocals are soulful, if rugged,
as in “Heavy Soul”. Another standout track on the album is when the pair takes
Iggy Pop’s “No Fun” for a Mississippi drift down to where the kudzu grows. (4)

to or Buy at

School of Etiquette

This all-girl band from San Francisco provides an interesting blend of modern
indie pop with a tasty blend of early goth pop, ala The Cure and Joy Division
as if Sleater Kinney or PJ Harvey were more influenced by Siouxsie & The Banshees.
This approach relies on simple keyboard riffs and high, fading vocals best exemplified
in “Identity”. The influence of The Cure is best heard on “Back to Bed”. This
is the song for which a QuickTime video is included on the CD. While the group
itself calls its own arrangements “dungeony”, there is such dance pop as “Imaginary”
on the album which still evidences the underlying theme of a distinct beat and
early ’80s influence. (3.5)

to or Buy at

Kids of Widney High
Act Your Age
Moon Man Records

There was a time when singing songs in a group setting was as natural an entertainment
as watching the game or going to the movies. This was also a more active way
of entertaining than the passive entertainments that prevail today. The natural
enthusiasm and infectious joy of these Los Angeles high school special education
students will summon in the listener this innate desire to sing and be happy
as a result of it. It is probably this fact that has resulted in the therapeutic
success of involvement in this project for Michael Monagan’s class as well as
the commercial success of the recording and performing project. The Kids also
have really interesting perspectives in their schools, including the thoughtful
analysis of Fidel Castro in the Latin-flavored “Two Faces on Fidel” and the
celebratory non-vegan “Life Without The Cow”. Shantel Brown stands out on this
album for singing “Miss Understood” and “Valentine’s Day”. Here love song is
warm and natural, more authentic than many examples of the genre that one could
find on radio and in films. The spirited title track, like the rest, features
the Kids in chorus to a rock band of studio musicians, some of whom are also
teachers. The songs are an anthemic ode to the type of self-respect and Golden
Rule lifestyle we need more of out there. (4.5)

to or Buy at

The Ramblin’ Ambassadors
Mint Records

In the spirit of Dick Dale, this is big beat guitar music with nods to surf
rock, Dave Alvin and Link Wray. This instrumental trio of twang-men is formed
around Huevos Rancheros guitarist Brent J. Cooper. This is recommended if you
like The Ventures (witness “Hawgtied”), Ennio Morricone (witness “Theme from
‘The Ramblin’ Bastards”) or Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. (3.5)

to or Buy at

Rocket from the Tombs
Rocket Redux
Smog Veil Records

The band that gave birth to Pere Ubu and Dead Boys, ’70s Cleveland rockers Rocket
from the Tombs here offers a reprise of a reprise. Material for this first-ever
studio album was taken from the collection of demos and live recordings that
made up The Day the Earth Met the Rocket from the Tombs (Glitterhouse,
2000). This means we have the first studio recordings of “30 Seconds over Tokyo”
and “Life Stinks”. These two Peter Laughner songs were originally done by Rocket
from the Tombs and only later by Pere Ubu. The group had already been together
for a summer tour before it decided to record these songs, now fully rehearsed,
with Richard Lloyd at his Manhattan EGB Studios. The group existed for less
than a year but was seminal and very important making this belated recording
an important moment in rock history. (4)

to or Buy at

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