mushmanMushman
Eddie Do

Kitefishing Productions
Mushman = Simon and Garfunkel + Puff the Magic Dragon

Quirky feelgood, almost childish lyrics, many of which are centered around this Eddie character, twine their way around sparse, intricate guitar work to produce an album people could be singing around the indie-rock campfire for years. Nerdy and sensitive, sometimes sporting keys and vocal harmonies, Eddie Do makes me want to color with crayons, play with my computer and smile.

invisible rays
The Invisible Rays
Self-Titled

Feroz Records
IR = the Damned + Graves + the Corleones

The Invisible Rays play often-slow, almost dirge-ish creep punk filled with plodding buzzsaw bass riffs, mournful or shouted vocals and sometimes-droning-sometimes-rocking synths. Their upbeat songs are much more tolerable than the slow ones, and I’m actually in favor of axing all of them except “Greedo,” which is sung by Violet Ray instead of their drummer, who sings the rest with impressive versatility but sounds often flat or forced. I sure hope they wear scary spacepunk outfits when they play live.

Quant - Crossies Count

Quant
Crossies Count

Quant = (Modest Mouse + Jane’s Addiction)valium

 

Quant set out to make the most subtly-smart album ever and almost succeeded—or maybe I’m just not smart (patient) enough. The songs are all well and good with intricate instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics but they just go on and on and on—listening to this is like staring at the Salt Flats, except not as monotonous as there are plenty of builds and crashes. They’re all slow and melodious and earnest though, and if you’ve nothing to do but brood and ponder, Crossies Count is your soundtrack.

 Eliza Wren - Selections in TimeEliza Wren
Selections in Time

EW = Radiohead + (Fiery Furnaces – total bizarrity) + Tom Waits

As melancholy and complex as scarcity musicianship can muster, Eliza Wren ‘s (new to SLC from Austin) compositions seem good for sleeping, but great for strange dreaming too. SLUG’s own RMP describes her as “a gruff angel of sorts,” but only in an eerie heaven could the lost loves Wren speaks of evoke such songs. She’s a heap of instruments at her fingers, but seems more likely to fondle a lone banjo, crisply voicing breath-cut melodies than anything. Welcome to Salt Lake City, Eliza.www.elizawren.com

 The Legendary Porch Pounders - A Little Gift: Authorized BootlegThe Legendary Porch Pounders
A Little Gift: Authorized Bootleg

Self-Released
LPP = Muddy Waters + Bob Dylan

I swore off drinking yesterday, but halfway through the emotionally exhausting second track, “Up for Days,” I had one leg swung back up on the wagon. Dan Weldon’s lyrics are more folk-poetic than would traditionally accompany many of LPP’s Delta blues tunes, but their song structures range anywhere from there to roots to almost Hank Williams country. Bad Brad Wheeler’s harmonica moans flesh out Weldon’s skeleton picks and strums, nearly voices themselves. Back from a successful SXSW stint with Bill Kirchen, you’ll find these boys nursing in Ogden’s Brewskies almost seven days a week.

The Brobecks - Happiest Nuclear WinterThe Brobecks
Happiest Nuclear Winter

Self-Released
The Brobecks = Weezer + They Might be Giants + Flaming Lips + Alkaline Trio

This album isn’t over-cute, it’s just cute drawn out. Happiest Nuclear Winter struts clever through 12 tracks of electro-pop subtle-saccharine with bummed-out lyrics and occasional near-jazz piano ditties. Sad, socially conscious, mostly strange and always beguiling, this aptly-named disc is one of the better basement recordings I’ve ever heard. As much as I refuse to endorse any ironic cheer/depression pop mergers, this album is goddamned good.

Never Never

Never Never
EP + LP

NN = My Chemical Romance + Cathedral

The vocals of Never Never are the metal equivalent of screamo—one minute (or at least half of the record) is intimate-disturbing-melodic crooning, the next is guttural screams. It’s a catch-22 because during the quiet parts are the only times that you can understand the lyrics, which are well-thought out and not the least cliché. When the music is heavy and crunchy it could smash the head of Satan’s minions wide open so the guitarists could drink their rotten blood, but there’s just way too many touchy-feely picking patterns here for me

Edie Sedgwick justin moyer

Pastiche Panoply:
Jason Moyer of Edie Sedgwick Chats Celebrityism, Post-Modernism, Pop-Art

“One day five years ago I was watching America’s Scariest Police Chases and it was hosted by this insane sheriff from somewhere with really white teeth, this tough dude. And I thought, ‘What if somebody wrote a novel from this dude’s perspective? What would happen if someone did that and embodied this person?’ and the ideas went from there. So I actually did write a novel, not about him but about Meryl Streep, but that’s another story. I wanted to embody a famous person and write songs not about my own life, but about the trials and tribulations of Molly Ringwald and Christopher Reeve. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be something new and unexpected?’ And it just kind of stuck. Then I thought that if I was going to embody a person I couldn’t get onstage in cargo pants and a sweatshirt. I had to really do it and be the person. I went and got a dress and got a wig and got my shit together. You can’t tap-dance with no tap-dancing shoes.”

 

[Edi Sedgwick] This straight-from-mouth explanation from Jason Moyer (of Dischord bands El Guapo and Antelope) explains the origins of his new project, which is the reincarnation of Warhol Girl of the Year 1965 Edie Sedgwick, into one-girl musical superstar form. That’s his “Vaudevillian shtick.” His mission is a bit more complex, and comments on the state of music in general.

 

“I started to wonder, ‘What is the point of writing music?'” he told me. “I was in DC, where it’s a political community with a lot of political music, and I would go to see bands who would be in your face about their politics. It’s not that I like George Bush; it’s just that I find anti-Bush songs dogmatic and uninteresting. At the same time, I felt my songs should be about something. I don’t like instrumental bands or bands that are overly-ironic. So I thought, ‘How can I tread this middle ground between postmodern irony and modernist dogmatic politicking?’ And so I said, ‘What I’ll do is write serious songs about a particular subject. I’ll write a song about feminism, but make it about Lucy Liu. I’ll write a song about how Martin Sheen is the true cultural president of the United States, but it’s about the West Wing.'”

 

Her Love is Real…But She is Not (Desoto), Edie’s first solo album, comes out on March 21. It’s a 40-minute electronic dance-party extravaganza, and with song titles like “Christian Slater,” “Harrison Ford” and “Haley Joel Osment,” the track listing reads like the cast credits of next year’s summer blockbuster. I asked Jason how he picks the subjects for his songs. He said, “Certain things stick in my head. I was doing the whole drag act, so I got to thinking about Jamie Lee Curtis and the rumor that she was an hermaphrodite. I thought that would be interesting to talk about, so I wrote a song about her. Then I was writing songs about brothers and sisters and thought, ‘What if I wrote a song about celebrity brothers and sisters and the dilemma that I would face if I had to sleep with one of them but I couldn’t decide which one because they’re both really attractive?’ So I wrote a song about Justine and Jason Bateman.

 

“At the same time, the lyrics on this new album are serious. Some of them are pretty abstract, but when I sing about Tom Hanks I’m not saying, ‘All right! Bonfire of the Vanities! All right! Saving Private Ryan!’ I’m singing about Marx and economics and how it relates to Castaway.”

 

Justin and I spoke about a central theme to his project, the idea of “celebrity,” the phenomenon of people who we have never met occupying out time and minds. He says, “It’s a fundamental issue in the age of the recorded image, whether that image is a musical image, a photographic image, a filmic image or a web image. There came a point around the turn of the last century, or even at the emergence of the written word, when, before then, we interacted with each other face to face, but once you have representations of actions, a sound on tape or an image on film, you look at that and say, ‘Is that Sean Penn in The Interpreter, or is that Sean Penn that married Madonna? Or is that Sean Penn that’s married to Robin Wright Penn?’ There’s also the Sean Penn that was in I am Sam, there’s also the Sean Penn that won an Oscar for Mystic River. Who is the real Sean Penn? It’s all a world of signs and signifiers and that’s all the world is. And to pinpoint ‘This is Sean Penn’ or ‘That’s Sean Penn’ is impossible.

 

“That’s the idea of celebrity, but it’s also sort of a basis of human interaction. If you think about your interactions, your father or your mother or your brother, do you really know these people? What are they thinking about? I used to be a social worker, and I would go see my clients who had problems. And I would try, through this sort of bankrupt, broken medium of language, to get inside their head and help them and understand what their problem was, and say the right thing at the right time. And it’s just impossible. You can’t know them. You can’t plug into their heads Matrix-style and help them. What you can do is kind of swipe at the problem like a kitten trying to swipe at a ball that’s being pulled away from them. That doesn’t really have anything to do with celebrities, that has to do with the world and the way we are. We can’t read each other’s minds. We can’t consume each other’s beings. With celebrities it’s even worse. Of course I’m not going to know Nicole Kidman from the dress she wears on the red carpet, but I feel it’s still productive to comment on the way she chooses to present herself, or the choices she chooses to make because she’s a public figure, and for better or worse, she’s part of our discourse. I mean, Kim Jong Il is, but Nicole Kidman is, too.”

 

Of all the people he could’ve chosen to reincarnate, Justin’s pick of vapid 60s It-girl Sedgwick is practically perfect, if nothing else as a vessel to remark upon the way in which both his subjects’ onscreen personas and their other-world real-life antics burn their way into our starstruck eyes through projectors and the pages of People magazine. Edie was a living piece of Warhol pop artwork, an ever-changing blank canvas upon which was painted whatever bit of pop culture Andy saw fit. In a way, we’re all that canvas. Justin says, “Edie’s story is a story of vacuousness and reflecting those around her. Nobody knows why she was famous. She and Andy Warhol would go to art openings and would be mobbed. I understand why Warhol would be mobbed but why would she be mobbed? Just because she’s around. She’s this empty figure, this mirror, reflecting the world around her. Our first album was called First Reflections, we’re just going to reflect everyone we see and write a song about them. Everybody’s got a story. I can write a song about anybody.”

 

However heavy Justin’s ideology might be, this thick soup of post/modernism, celebrity, signs and signifiers didn’t quite hold the clout live on stage that it does on the page. “For awhile [in concert] I was using an iPod for my backing music,” he says, “which was funny because it was a gimmick. But the shows started to seem a little bit empty. I would try to jump around and be crazy but it didn’t really fill up the room. Some friends of mine were interested in making film and these songs that I’ve written lend themselves well to short videos. So these two guys cut about 16 short films that go with each song. Now I go on stage with a laptop and a video projector and I project these films behind me and I basically sing over a DVD. That way I can do my thing and enjoy the song and when I’m boring or the song’s getting too long there’s this visual stimulation that fills up the space.

 

“We worry that we might run into [copyright] trouble with the videos we shoot behind me live, but we don’t sell them and they don’t make anyone look really bad. I have a song about Arnold Schwarzenegger and in the video it cuts between him campaigning in California and then cuts from The Terminator, but it’s not like we cut between him campaigning and then Hitler or anything.”

 

If any part of this article has made you excited, then great for you and I and Edie and Justin. If the idea of a cross-dressing reincarnated cultural theorist isn’t your piece of hair pie, then that’s fine too. “It’s funny because my other band [El Guapo] went to shoot a video and I talked to the makeup girl for 20 minutes about blush. I guess for most band dudes, that’s not the same. And I’m excited about that. I don’t want to be a band dude. I take pride in the fact that, for better or worse, a lot of people wouldn’t do what I do. They’d think it’s stupid or they’d think it’s silly or they’d be uncomfortable with it. My shit might suck but at least I’m comfortable with it and that makes me feel good.”

 

If you’ll be in Austin for SXSW, Edie will be there. If not, check out www.ediesedgwick.biz and Her Love is Real…But She is Not.

I was assigned to write a piece about pirate radio for this month’s issue so I contacted pirate radio’s most infamous guru: Tecspectr. We made arrangements to meet, and later that week, he showed up at the SLUG office carrying an inconspicuous black shoulder bag. Tall and thin, an engineer by trade, I could tell right away that he was excited to get right down to business.

[Tecspectr can kick Slater’s ass any day]”Should we set it up?” he asked.

“Set what up?” I replied, not knowing what he was talking about.

“The radio station,” he said.

“What?” I said, still confused, “Fuck yeah.”

He went out to his car for what I was sure was going to be heavy equipment or maybe a laptop computer or something, but all he brought back was an eight-foot-long J-shaped antenna. He braced it in a potted plant and stuck it out the window, making sure not to touch the metal gutters. He ran a cable from there across the room to our coffee table on which he placed a small grey box, an eight-track mixer, a Discman, a set of headphones and a microphone. He hooked the headphones, the mic and the Discman to the mixer and plugged the mixer into the grey box, which he explained was a 4-watt PLL (phase lock loop) FM transmitter.

“That’s it,” he said. “We are now sitting at the controls of a pirate radio station.”

Pirate radio is exactly what the name implies, it is unlicensed radio transmission. For example, Tecspectr broadcasts on 95.9 FM, which is technically owned by a butt rock station in Logan. When the Spectr is on the air, you can tune your radio to 95.9 FM and instead of hearing Whitesnake and Poison rotated around five minute commercial blocks, you hear radical sociopolitical commentary and half-hour blocks of songs that you would never normally hear on the radio, or whatever the hell else he feels like putting on. The equipment is cheap and the process is simple. The transmitter, which Tecspectr ordered online from London (www.nrgkits.com) and assembled himself, cost less than $200; his mixer around $100; and his antenna, which he assembled from copper pipe, around $20. “Anybody can do this for under $500,” he says, “and it’s not rocket science.”

I talked to Tecspectr about pirate radio because he ran Black Ball Radio, an infamous and highly popular pirate Seattle station during 2000 to 2001 that broadcast 24-7 for a year.

“On July 4, 2000,” he explained, “the Fourth of July Black Ball was held on the historic art-deco ferry Kalakala, which is dry-docked in Lake Union in downtown Seattle. The whole scene was there. Bad Religion heard that I was broadcasting Internet radio, which, at that time, was brand new technology, and contacted me about doing a live show from the Black Ball using the transmitter they and Pearl Jam had used to broadcast on tour. The show went well and the bands decided since they weren’t using it, to give me their transmitter. Black Ball Radio was born, and it was huge.”

We got the broadcast going at SLUG HQ and took a drive to see how far we reached. We picked up a signal for seven blocks in each direction.

“Antenna placement is crucial; ours right now is terrible,” he said. “If we had the antenna on the roof with a 20-foot mast, we’d hit downtown and the University [from Sugarhouse] easily.”

The reasons behind pirate radio are simple. Music and other forms of media affect our lives, mass media is mass culture transfer. The people in charge of virtually every facet of mass media are only concerned with lining their pockets. They irresponsibly transfer the most marketable and usually worst aspects of American culture to the masses. Pirate radio fights against that. The air and its waves belong to the people. It should not be “owned.” Pirate radio brings power to the people.

When I asked him what advice he would give to someone starting a pirate radio station, Tecspectr told me, “Do it. Dig right in. But be careful. Know when to shut it off. Also, run it yourself, pirate radio is not run by committee.

“The possibilities are very exciting right now. Guttenberg invented moveable type 400 years ago and only in the last 50 have we made a major advance in mass media, especially with the Internet in the last 10. Think of this: five punk rockers live in five different cities. Each one has a transmitter. Each one collects mp3s from local bands and puts them on an Internet radio station [which is, for now, virtually unregulated]. The five kids hook their computers to their transmitters and suddenly you can turn on the radio in each of those five cities and suddenly you’re exposed to music you would have never otherwise heard.”

When Tecspectr gets back on the mic, he petitions his listeners.

“Let’s take back the airwaves. I cannot stress how easy this is. Please go do it.”

Listen for pirate radio on occasional Friday and Saturday nights on 95.9 FM. Check out www.slugmag.com and www.hektik.org for local Internet radio and www.shoutcast.com for Internet radio software