Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jewell Case Finds Good Use

Thank you, Tristan Perich for finally using a CD jewel case in a way that will make me want to keep it in my collection, right next to my box sets and slabs of vinyl. This electronic composer has just released a record, 1 Bit Recordings (Cantaloupe), where the music comes from hand-assembled electronics that fit in the jewel case itself. You the listener just have to open it up, plug in some headphones, turn it on and start listening. There are even two knobs for right/left volume and a skip button. The music: bare bones minimalistic 1-bit celebrations—11 of them. Surprisingly, the primitive sounds are orchestrated with catchy melodies and climactic moments that you have to hear to believe. The audio encodings trip back to the ‘50s and ‘60s when the freaky electrified space hippies of Mills College decided to change the way we thought of “1”s and “O”s, taking a bite of the forbidden Silver Apple of the Moon’s aural Eden. True: the grooves here might be a little nails-on-the-chalk-board for some listeners, but here in the Birdman Offices, these are the sounds of the workingman. Also, hats off to Aquarius Records for shining a light on this fantastic jewel.

Tristan Parich "Certain Movement"

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The Modey Lemon: How Sweet Life Is

Besides having a copy of Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite SIGNED BY OLATUNJI sent to my home on a Saturday afternoon (thank you, Geoffery Weiss), nothing is finer than when a brandly new completed record shows up at the Birdman Offices from one of our bands. Wrapped up and ready for manufacture. Case in point: this week we received the new one from our Pittsburgh friends, The Modey Lemon. The name of the record (now it shall be revealed): SEASON OF SWEETS coming longgggggg off of the heals of 2006’s Curious City. For the lucky few who have seen them live over the last year, the new material is crushing: adding Krautrock into the mix of the grazy (great and crazy) fuzzy furry freak sounds already addressed (we all know the genius beats of Quattrone).

I was lucky enough to debut the song "MILK MOUSTACHE" yesterday on the fabulous PIRATE CAT RADIO. Great station. It all went down during Mister Odom’s Bottomless Pit and you can hear it right here (my part of the show starts half way in). Listen for debuts from Apache and R L Boyce too.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eric Shea Talks Parchman Farm, The Jizz, and Hot Lunch

Birdman recently caught up with San Francisco-based ex-Parchman Farm vocalist, skate enthusiast, and local punk 'n' roll icon Eric Shea to find out what havoc he's been reaping with his newest projects The Jizz, Hot Lunch, and his cat, Penguin. To get your hand's on Parchman Farm's The Lost Tapes get to clicking right here.

Bands you’re currently in or were in?

I sang and played guitar for Mover and The High Deserters. Then I sang for Parchman Farm and now I sing for Hot Lunch and The Jizz.

What do you dig playing? (vox, guitar, etc…)

I like playing guitar and harmonica, but I'm not too good at guitar and got worse after snapping my wrist a few years ago. So I mostly sing now.

What’s on your record player, CD player and digital player (computer, iPod, whatever)?

Lately I've been digging Coloured Balls, Stray, that first Blue Ash record, Roky Erickson, City Boy, Dennis Dragon's soundtracks for Hal Jepson's old surf movies, Poodle Boys, Roy Harper, The Arrows, Bruce Langhorne's soundtrack for The Hired Hand, Barracudas, Honeybus, Allen Toussaint's Life, Love and Faith, and Pugh Rogefeldt's Ja, Da A Da!

Where do you call home these days? Live alone?

I live in the Mission with my girlfriend Juliette and our cat Penguin.

The ever famous question of what do you do for a living…or better put, what puts food and beer on the table?

Funny you should ask…for nine years I was a producer and music reviewer/editor for Rhapsody. but just two days ago I was laid off with 24 other people. It was my dream job interviewing legends like Buck Dharma or Porter Wagoner. One of my first interviews on the job was with Spinal Tap. So I had a pretty good run there. Hopefully I’ll end up with another rad job where I can do work that relates to what I love.

So, tell me about Parchman Farm. How did it all start?

A mutual friend introduced me to Allyson who had been jamming with Carson and Chris for a while. One day she called me to ask if I knew of any singers into bands like Blue Cheer and Grand Funk Railroad. This was in 2002 or 2003. Mover had just broken up and so I told her that I'd be into giving it a shot. We met and jammed on a cover of "Babylon" and it felt good. Then they asked me to join, I got a van and it was on.

There are a couple of new things going on with Parchman Farm. One is the Birdmanaphone release of Lost Tapes. Care to share a little about the songs?

Hmm…yeah let's see…these were demos that we did over a year after our first EP came out. We tracked these songs in 2005 and 2006 with Josh Schwartz and then Phil Manley from The Fucking Champs. We were on a U.S. tour with them and when we got home Phil said that we should record with him, so we did. At the time we were listening to a lot of hard funk from the late '60s and early '70s, and I think some of that seeped through on the arrangements, phrasings and rhythms. Allyson sent the demos out to a handful of select labels, but nothing came from that. A few months later the band told me that they wanted to break up. I was bummed because I thought we were finally finding our own sound and I was more into these songs than any of the ones we recorded before. I wasn’t really too hung up on getting on any of those labels. But it’s all good in the end. All in all I think of Parchman Farm as being a lot of truly awesome times. I’m happy where things are at now, and I’m having fun playing new music. I still think those guys are amazing musicians, and I’m super stoked for Chris’s new musical project…that dude rules.

What’s it like having releases come out after the band has dismembered?

Honestly, listening to these songs reminds me of the fun times we had playing live, touring and hanging out. I'm mostly proud of what Parchman Farm did and it was a good experience in many ways. I totally like all of these recordings way better than the ones that came out on our self-titled EP. They're just better songs culling from more honest and diverse influences than what we first started with.

What are you currently working on?

I'm singing for two bands, Hot Lunch and The Jizz. Hot Lunch is a heavy punk 'n' roll thing with Aaron from Mensclub, Rob from Cheetah Speed and Charlie from Harold Ray…three friends that I’ve wanted to play music with for a long time. The Jizz is with Mark from Apache and Barrett from Nightling playing dueling guitar leads over a heavy rhythm section and it’s more like an onslaught of dirty, heavy songs that will make you puke your brain out of your nose. Those guys kill it.

What’s going on/upcoming for these?

The Jizz just recorded two songs for a single that I'm really stoked on. We’re all just into making heavy songs and having a good time doing it. All the dudes I’m playing with have really good taste in music and it’s inspiring to still get turned on to stuff I’ve never heard before. We started Hot Lunch just wanting to play parties and shows with our friends. Musically, we’re all pretty much on the same page and are having a lot of fun with it. I totally lucked out by hooking up with a bunch of guys who are such naturally killer musicians.

I noticed that the “Hoot” is back. Care to elaborate?

Oh, that was just a one-off reunion. I actually posted a little thing about it here for work here and here. Doing the Monday Night Hoot at Café DuNord taught me so much about songwriting and introduced me to a lot of the music community at large. But right now I just want to focus on my bands and my work. Running something like the Hoot takes a lot of time and energy that I'd rather put into rock 'n' roll, writing and production.

Many might not know you are one hell of a skateboard enthusiast. What’s the new hot spot in SF? Any big bails to report lately?

Yeah, I’ve been skateboarding since I was a little kid. The song "Declaration" on Lost Tapes is kind of about my love for it. And there’s another one there that’s about bailing hard on the banks at Montclair Elementary School in Oakland on an old Alva board. "Pacific" is another song that sort of touches on barging a secret spot and getting served but knowing it was well worth it. There’s nothing like grinding across pool coping. But as far as spots go, my favorite one in the city is Parker's basement. I probably shouldn't say what he built down there…but that bowl they're pouring at Potrero Del Sol is looking really good too.

What album blew you away this year?

I guess it would have to be a tie between The Go's Howl On That Haunted Beat You Ride and the new Danava record also rules it.

Any departing words?

I've already said too much. But thanks for taking the time to ask about these songs and stuff. And mega super thanks to Dave and Birdman for putting out Parchman Farm's Lost Tapes.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lazarus Descends On The Brookdale

In the mountains, just twenty minutes north of Santa Cruz, the haunted Brookdale Lodge, home to a final incarnation of the Ink Spots (live record recorded) and host to a little girl who has no idea that she's dead, was the perfect backdrop for OM to unleash its particular style of monster rock. The Santa Cruz-based duo comprised of ex-Sleep members Al Cisneros (bass) and Chris Hakius (drums) pummel slowly and loud, with massive bass gear looming behind them and a drummer's tower of Babel surrounding Hakius– think Keith Moon in his latter years.

The gut-vibrating brown sound created was perfect for the wooden high-rafter venue, oozing lavaly from its pores and onto the mechanically slo-mo headbanging crowd. And while OM often verges on self-parody with songs that sound remarkably similar and lyrics that either Tolken-you-out or make you stare and grin, there is no denying the power the duo had over its all-ages audience who did not speak or stray, even during the extended mellow bass solo that broke down the band's final number.

DJing the event was the impeccable Comets On Fire noise-guru Noel Harmonson, who added color with his rants and raves around the hotel later that evening.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Howlin Rain's Magnificent Fiend, Out March 4, 2008

Alright, folks. The time has come. Birdman is proud to announce that we'll be releasing Howlin Rain's sophomore release, Magnificent Fiend, with none other American Recordings. Featuring Ethan Miller from psych-virtuoso outfit Comets On Fire and Joel Robinow from Drunk Horse, the band has officially redefined the phrase "New Weird America." Stay tuned for tour updates, news, and exclusive up-to-date info.

Click here for Pitchfork's story.

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