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Outsight: music news and views

Now with no musty odors

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.

Email Outsight at outsight@usa.net

Visit Outsight on the Web: http://www.new-sounds.com

Ratings are (1) = :(, (5) = 🙂

Outsight Radio Hours Internet radio Webcasts with live interviews: http://www.outsight.mu

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News And Views

Minnesota’s Cloud Cult Embarks On Green U.S. Tour

Catch the upbeat indie rock and vocal gymnastics of Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus as Cloud Cult embarks on an eco-friendly tour starting June 7th. And scheduled for June and July. The band will counteract all pollutants created from the tour through various efforts organized by Cloud Cult front man and environmentalist, Craig Minowa. Minowa says he doesn’t feel his job is complete unless he’s working on both music and environmental activism. “It’s important for us to help establish an environmental business model that can help demonstrate to the rest of the music industry that this can actually be done in an ecologically sustainable way,” he says. Calculating the amount of energy Cloud Cult will use on stage each night, the group will purchase equal amounts of wind power energy credits. During the day, many of the band members also work on environmental organizing, as they travel from city to city for evening performances, so their van is equipped with solar panels to power their lap tops and cell phones. They’ll also offset the carbon dioxide created by their tour vehicle with the help of sponsor Clif Bar. “Each gallon of gas puts out 22 pounds of carbon-dioxide,” Minowa explains. To counter both car and air travel emissions associated with the tour, Clif Bar and Cloud Cult will plant nearly an acre of new trees through the organization American Forests. That acre will absorb, in a year, the amount of carbon dioxide created from the tour. Although numerous label offers followed the success of Aurora Borealis, the band has chosen to keep their U.S. releases on Earthology Records, the label Minowa established in 1997. Earthology is the world’s only environmental nonprofit record label, donating all profits after expenses to environmental charity work and creating CD packaging using recycled materials.

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Pod Cathedral

Cathedral has launched The Memory Theater, an iPod opera. Serialized as 49 playlists between April 10, 2005 and February 24, 2007, it is a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Featuring the pan-genre global collective Cathedral Band, The Chronicler, and the voices from the Web, The Memory Theater is crafted especially for the sound world of the iPod. It can be heard without iPod through podcast receiver software such as iPodder or the Web. More on Cathedral.

Be Goo To Your School

Robby Takac, bassist for multi-platinum-selling The Goo Goo Dolls and label president of Good Charamel Records, has been fine-tuning his “Music is Art High School Awareness” tour to bring back the arts and especially music, one high school at a time. Music Is Art (MIA) is a motivational program that fuses music and performance with positive messages of personal empowerment, character building and confidence. Through live performances of Good Charamel bands The Juliet Dagger and Last Conservative and presentations by Robby himself, students learn these values without being lectured. “Due to our current social and political situations, music and the arts are being eliminated from many public school systems,” explained Takac. “Our goal is to raise awareness with our bands and resources within the students regarding the possibility of careers and opportunities in arts, communications and entertainment. We hope to prompt them to explore the prosperous and satisfying fields that are usually offered through conventional scholastic programs. We also try to stress the concepts of personal responsibility and decision-making through the message of music, showing the life-long importance of the actions made in these crucial years.” The program consists of a five-minute film of Takac speaking about the importance of self-worth and confidence, followed by live performances from Last Conservative and The Juliet Dagger, who embed positive messages within their sets. The band and project organizers spend the whole day at the school, offering talks, career advice, and other interaction with the students.

Zzzzz…

Each month I try to find a CD or two sent to me that is perfect, soporific audio to drift off to sleep to. This month Peruvian Holiday (Bridge Records) by pianist Andrew Rangell does the trick. The gentle piano music from Chopin, Haydn and more is an excellent soundtrack for tranquil sleep. Before retiring, I recommend taking in Ragnell’s detailed notes about why he picked each pieces. It is educational and adds to the listening.

Pixies Announce 2005 U.S. Tour Dates

Pixies consisting of Frank Black (vocals, guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), Joey Santiago (guitar), David Lovering (drums) kicks off three weeks worth of U.S. tour dates beginning May 26 in Portland, Oregon. The trek will include concerts in many cities the band was unable to play during last year’s reunion tour. Pixies formed in Boston in 1986 and disbanded in 1992 after recording five albums and have since been acclaimed as one of the biggest influences on the alternative rock scene of the time. U2’s Bono referred to the Pixies as “one of America’s greatest bands ever,” and David Bowie called their work “just about the most compelling music of the entire ’80s.”

New CD From Dead Milkmen Guitarist/Vocalist Joe Jack Talcum

Joe Jack Talcum’s Home Recordings 1984-97 collection is 24 tracks spanning 13 years of solo recordings. Originally released on home produced cassettes, these songs have been performed over the years by various projects in Philadelphia. This is an album of acoustic, punk, and rock music from a musician who has been active in and out of the spotlight for over twenty years. For more info visit Valiant Death.

DVD Reviews

Sun Ra

The Magic Sun

Atavistic / Music Video Distributors

“Me and my musicians are musical astronauts. We travel space and time through our music and we take our audience with us whether they want to go or not.” That quote is from Sun Ra himself in one of the most interesting parts of this DVD: the “gallery”. This is still images of Sun Ra and his ensemble members presented in a slideshow fashion as Sun Ra himself explains his personal, pseudo-Egyptian mysticism through archival audio. The main feature elegantly joins black and white film with hallucinogenic special effects to the music of Sun Ra’s Solar Arkestra. (4)

More on the DVD at Amazon.com

Alice Cooper

Monster Dog

Music Video Distributors

When I was young, in my school days, they used to call me “Little Alice” or “J.C.” for “Junior Cooper” for my idolization of Alice Cooper. One of strongest memories of High School was finding out my government teacher was also a schoolteacher to metro Detroit’s most famous shock rocker. So, one can imaging my excitement back in 1985 when this Alice Cooper film appeared. Knowing Cooper was starring in a monster movie was further confirmation he was living the ultimate adolescent fantasy. Hell, I heard he had TVs on 24/7 in every room of his house. Well, fortunately, when it comes to movies I have so little recall I can watch this DVD edition of the film with the same expectation because I cannot remember a thing about it. The film opens with a Lace and Whiskey-style video of rock role-playing where Alice Cooper is Vincent Raven (a play on his real name Vincent Furnier). This movie rock star has a van full of monster fodder that looks like the young and stupid cast of Friday the 13th and such campy slasher flicks. As the unlucky band goes deeper into the woods for its video shoot, it draws closer to ravaging lycanthrope. Admittedly, this is not profound cinema, but there is plenty of Cooper rock and if you are ready laugh with the film, you will have the best time possible. (2.5)

Hank Williams

The Ultimate Collection

Mercury Nashville

This is a double-CD box set with a DVD documentary celebrating the great man of country music that was Hank Williams. I immediately knew what to do when I received it. I took it to the most serious and scholarly Hank Williams fan I know; my mother. Together we watched the DVD, which she validated for accuracy, completeness and revelation. Together we agreed it is all entertaining and just the thing the serious Hank Williams fan must have. The booklet gives recording data on 42 tracks across two CD albums, including Luke the Drifter material as well as classics like “Lost Highway” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart”. (5)

CD Reviews

Vancouver Complication

Various Artists

Sudden Death

This classic west coast punk compilation includes D.O.A., Subhumans, and one of the earliest Canadian punk bands signed outside of that country: Pointed Sticks. This CD reissues includes five bonus tracks from Tim Ray & The Druts, The Dishrags (one of the first all-girl punk band and fifteen years of age at the time), and three from Rude Norton featuring members of D.O.A., Subhumans, and Pointed Sticks. The tracks here, recorded from 1977-9, are original punk: art damaged, rugged and sincere. This is still great material and was the school that predated old school. (3.5)

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BBQ

Tie Your Noose

Bomp!

BBQ is a frantic and rough one-man band brought to us by Mark Sultan of Les Saxarenos fame and beyond. He does all this live without multi-tracking and it sounds like a full frat rock revival combo. The music is frenetic, explosive and energized. This is high-octane turbo oldies. (4)

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De Novo Dahl

Cats & Kittens

Theory 8

De Novo Dahl reaches back to into the bag of tricks shared by Bowie, The Kinks, Pet Sounds, and more for warm, upbeat and vibrant indie pop records of smiling charm. The small, delicate, beguiling mode of this pop album tracks back to the group vocals and omnichord (an electronic autoharp) employed by the Nashville sextet. (3.5)

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Carei Thomas

Sound Windows V: Pinnacles

Innova Recordings

“Window one”, or song one, is “Processional”, a Howl for a new generation with its “Technicolor twenty dollar bills”. Such metaphoric beat poetry and its buddy free jazz are a good start for the experimental jazz and spoken word on this album from this shining star in the Sun Ra constellation. Then there is the tentative and gentle art music of the piano melody “Ibidem”. This is live improvised music interspersed with fragments of written material in a process Thomas calls “brief realities”. To further the neologism, the composer calls this arrangement of such read text and extemporaneous performance “poemmetry”. Whatever the name, the effect is engaging and at times thrilling. (4)

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Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

Naturally

Daptone

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is a refreshing dose of funk and soul in a rock & rap world. This is music you can feel delivered by people that got the feeling. Sharon Jones heralds from Augusta, Georgia as does a good reference point: James Brown. Both got their start singing in church. She went on to do all sorts of often-uncredited backing vocals on gospel, soul, disco, and blues recording eventually earning her the title “Queen of Funk”. All this experience, variety and skill contribute to an album that makes one think Aretha Franklin and the JB’s. (4.5)

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Choosing Death

The Original Soundtrack

Relapse

This compilation of grind core and death metal is the companion – sound track if you would – to the book about the genres, Choosing Death. The 20-track album covers the genre in broad strokes with selections from Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Death, Deicide, and more. Hardcore fans of extreme metal will be please to find exclusive tracks from Pig Destroyer, Suffocation, and pre-Entombed Nihilist. (4)

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Cloud Cult

Advice From The Happy Hippopotamus

Baria

One of the coolest discs to come out of Minnesota since Twin Tones folded up shop, this cheery but lo-fi indie pop band views Neil Young through a funhouse mirror on “Happy Hippo”. In “You Got Your Bones To Make A Beat” a flute channels the sprit of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. This is an indie band that knows how to rock but while rocking can also be interesting. (3)

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The Ponys

Celebration Castle

In The Red

This album has a gothic revival sound, recalling early music of The Cure and The Smiths. So, break out the clove cigarettes and absinthe to enjoy the great goth rock of the sophomore release from this Chicago band. The group is a bunch of the goth romantics, waxing melodic on jagged ballads like “Another Wound”. (3.5)

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Antonio Carlos Jobim

20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Antonio Carlos Jobim

Hip-O

Jobim’s compositions on the Stan Getz and João Gilberto’s bossa nova record Getz/Gilberto did much to change jazz and Jobim’s fortunes. This collection of one dozen Jobim songs leads with two selections from that landmark album. Thus arranged roughly chronologically, the album proceeds on through to the deep and rich “Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)” (1974) showing the man that did so much to bring bossa nova to popular consciousness was unaffected by the commercial, more popular form of jazz that developed during those year. This is an excellent entry point for exploring Jobim’s art. (4)

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D.Y.S.

Brotherhood

Taang!

The eleven tracks of loose and loud Boston hardcore fly by like a five-song EP on this new 11-song CD issue of 1983 recordings from Dept. of Youth Services. Notable from the straightedge band that wears its convictions in its lyrics is “Escape” with is Excalibur introduction and an unreleased version of “Wolfpack” featuring the Hüsker Dü trio on backing vocals. (2.5)

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Purchase New York

In Vitro Veritas

Indierect

Purchase New York begins a slow swirl of scintillating but gentle guitar melodies to presage its own thunder of guitar crunch like the rising eddy of air indicated by lifted leaves the announces a summer storm. This rhythm of buildup and release keeps the album fresh and interesting, although “Nine Mile Drag” (track 3) is just too much Sturm und Drang because it makes the windows rattle being just plain noisy. Purchase New York is at its best on an ebb and flow between subtle melody and intense maelstrom. So, just start at “Kill Jesus©®TM” (track 4) and enjoy. (3.5)

Shunned House

Santiago Avenue Bridge

Random Art

On this EP, strange and dark ethereal music serves as bookends for an inane conversation about wireless computer equipment and garbage-picking computers. It is amazing how surreal the most banal information can be when taken out of context. Says Chris Jensen, one half of the duo, “This is the project I always wanted to do.” In a world where the project most everyone else wants to do is an unmitigated guitar assault, this otherworldly, stream-of-consciousness album of odd words and ambient electronica is refreshing. (3.5)

Johnny Maddox

Dixieland Blues

Crazy Otto Music

This album originally came out in 1959 but none of the passing decades has dampened the infectious enthusiasm or dimmed the bright energy that shines from each ragtime piano track. Dixieland Blues is the favorite record of Maddox himself from his 50-plus-year career of over 80 titles. The album includes such rare and known pieces as two W.C. Handy numbers: “Beale Street Blues” and “St. Louis Blues”. The Dixieland feel comes from the presence of a horn section of ’30s jazz greats like Matty Matlock (clarinet and co-arranger with Beasley Smith), Mannie Klein (trumpet), Moe Schneider (trombone), and more. This enhanced CD includes images of the original sheet music covers, audio commentary from Johnny for each track, and a video of Johnny performing “Friday Night Stomp”. (4.5)

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Shrimp Boat

Speckly

Aum Fidelity

This is a reissue of Shrimp Boat’s 1989 debut, self-issued LP. A bass line of percolating, punchy simplicity (is that doghouse bass?) summons alt-country to mind. Over the music is the beading wash of punk drying over much of underground rock to reveal the shine of dawning indie rock. Presaging post-rock, the group’s unusual tempos marked the march into seminal status for the band as comfortable with the banjo (“Shady Grove”) as with a guitar. This group gave rise to singer/guitarist Sam Prekop and drummer Eric Claridge (both later of Sea and Cake) as well as drummer and future indie rock producer Brad Wood (Liz Phair, Veruca Salt, Smashing Pumpkins). (4)

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U. Utah Phillips

Starlight On The Rails: A Songbook

Daemon / AK Press

This box set contains the songs of Utah Phillips: union ballads, protest songs, hobo tunes, and more folk songs with stories and morals. Utah introduces and explains each track; it’s history and meaning. This set is four CDs of masterful and moving storytelling from this living historian of the people. Here is entertainment; here is education on a compelling scale. (4.5)

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Beck

Guero

Geffen

Funky with the beats and freaky with the metaphors, this is Beck mania writ large by the production of Dust Brothers and an appearance by Jack White. Punching up this album is samples from The Ohio Players to The Beastie Boys. Guero continues in the tradition of Odelay as fractured white rap (“guero” means “white boy”), although it suggests no standout tracks but rather an even if rugged landscape of funny funk rock and Latin hip-hop that wants to be a party soundtrack. (3.5)

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Charming Hostess

Sarajevo Blues

Tzadik

Charming Hostess is a three-voiced female vocal group that uses Balkan poetry, klezmer and more. The music is exciting, vital and compelling. I dare you to find anything based on harmonies and a small string section that is more energetic. This particular opus from the trio of singers (Jewlia Eisenberg, Marika Hughes, and Cynthia Taylor) is also a triptych. The first part is song sketches of war-torn Sarajevo from text by Bosnia poet Sem Mehemedinovic and delivered with the group’s trademark vocal acrobatics as found with many a cappella groups. There are also two Jewish traditional songs separating from the Sarajevo sections a section of three song-poems thus comparing and contrasting through music and text “the Jewish, African, and Bosnian Diasporas.” (5)

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Oz Noy

Ha!

Magnatude

This instrumental guitar rock album is soulful and funky: power jazz-blues that is sly, swinging and styling like a John Scofield rock trio. This guitar player from Israel started his professional career at the age of 13 playing jazz, blues, pop and rock music. The variety and experience shows. He is now keeping up the multi-genre kaleidoscope groove from New York, his cosmopolitan home since 1996. Ha! includes drummers Anton Fig, and Keith Carlock as well as bassists Will Lee and James Genus. Will Lee observed “Oz is to guitar what Jaco [Pastorius] was to bass!” Guest guitarist Mike Stern (Billy Cobham, Miles Davis), who says “Oz is a fantastic guitar player…one of the best I’ve ever seen…he’s just too good!”, is on hand as is keyboardist George Whitty (Brecker Brothers). (4.5)

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Paul Dutton

Oralizations

Distribution Ambiances Magnetiques

Multi-tone throat singing, gasps, shouts, sniffing, and more come from this cornucopia of surprising vocalizations. This album is a retrospective covering over thirty years of pushing the bounds of music to include extreme vocal techniques. This album runs the gamut from simple poems (“Else”) to bop speak (“Kit Talk”) to radical mouth-sounds that can be cartoonish, musical, and fearsome all at once (“Two out of Three”). Dutton coined the term metalogos for the words beyond words that are the syllables of free improvisation he communicates with. Excepting a few examples of overdubbed singing accompaniment, this album is simply Paul Dutton’s unadorned but uniquely expressed natural voice. (5)

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