Music. Theft. A near-death incident. No … it’s not another episode of Law and Order; it’s the unfortunate story of what recently happened to local experimental artist Raglani.
Some may recognize Joe Raglani as the RFT’s 2008 Best Experimental Artist, or from his days bartending and spinning records at the Upstairs Lounge. His music is subtle but beautiful–and taking off on a national level. Raglani is on the roster of highly-regarded experimental label Kranky Records, and has garnered recognition from the likes of Arthur Magazine. Most recently, Raglani was invited to play at the presigious No Fun Fest in New York (other performers included Sonic Youth, Bardo Pond and Blank Dogs). While performing there, Raglani’s van was broken into and his gear, valued at around $10,000, was stolen. Tomorrow night, some of St. Louis’ best DJs, including KDHX’s own Ashley Vulture (Talkin’ Trash), will come together at White Flag Projects to try to raise funds to replace some of his equipment. More details are below in a press release from Spooky Action Palace’s Michael Ferrer:
A MAJOR BUMMER : THE JOE RAGLANI BENEFIT PARTY
WHITE FLAG PROJECTS >> MAY 30th >> 9PM >> $10
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
For the first four months of this year, local electronic musician Joe Raglani (Kranky Records, 2008 RFT Experimental Musician of the Year) prepared for his first cross-country tour by selling off multiple pieces of equipment and much of his music library, relentlessly producing and recording new material, and scheduling and booking the tour by himself. With the funds, he bought three vintage synths and two new amplifiers, put together some tour-only CDs and tee-shirts, and rented a van, presuming the tour would pay for itself and give him enough money to get home.
In the early morning of Sunday, May 16th, one night after playing a set at the No Fun Fest in Brooklyn, Joe stepped away from the van to get some food, and a professional thief broke in and stole nearly $10K worth of equipment, much of it custom-tweaked, which took over a decade to assemble. This included the laptop onto which Joe had ripped much of the music he’d sold to buy the synths and amps, which were among the gear stolen. Caught in the act while loading the last piece of equipment into his car, the thief tried to run Joe over. When Joe told the cops that he wasn’t able to get a license plate number because of this, they laughed.
This Saturday, May 30th, we will attempt to redress this wrong as best we can, in the only appropriate way: by throwing a big party.
DJS SCHEDULED TO APPEAR SO FAR: GHOST ICE; ASHLEY VULTURE (ATOMIC COWBOY); D-GRETS (FOUND FUTURE, UPSTAIRS); RAGLANI (THE VICTIM); MATT LEACH (DIRTY MONEY, UPSTAIRS); ONE VISION; JOHN TAMM-BUCKLE…SPINNING EVERYTHING FROM GARAGE ROCK TO MINIMAL SYNTH, NEW WAVE TO NEW JACK SWING, ELECTRO AND DUB TO HAPPY HARDCORE AND IDM.
SCHLAFLY KEGS, CUP INCLUDED IN DOOR FEE; $1 CANS FROM STEVE POWERS’ POUR BOX. RAFFLE, DONATED ARTWORK AND MERCH.
MAY 30th, 9PM @ WHITE FLAG PROJECTS . $10-$15 STRONGLY SUGGESTED DONATION (IT’S A BENEFIT, Y’ALL).
email@example.com FOR MORE INFO, OR TO VOLUNTEER SERVICES, ARTWORK, OR SUGGESTIONS.
Tim Easton, the Ohio-born, Joshua Tree-based troubadour (I use the term precisely) was in town Wednesday night at Off Broadway. It should have been a layup, to quote an unnamed source, though there was a bit of rain and mid-week shows in St. Louis are never a sure thing. But the 30 or so folks in attendance saw Easton put on a clinic.
He sound checked with a quick Staple Singers blues. His black 1947 Gibson J-45 may be on the way to Triggerville, but it rang out like a bluegrass army; Easton is no bluegrasser, yet he’s got the rhythm guitar chops to don a suit anytime he likes. You hear critics (ahem) sometimes say that an instrument is an extension of the performer, when what they mean is the performer is playing very well. But that guitar, worn and covered in a grimy film, is a part of Easton; it moves with him and he works it like he doesn’t even have to. The fills, quick runs, flashing solos, and then always back to the rhythm, steady and hard. His boot tapped on a small mic stand-his drummer he called it-and he joked that half way through the day he realized he was dressed like the UPS guy.
Easton spent a few years as a street musician in Paris and elsewhere; he knows how to go solo. He disarms with self-deprecating humor, phrases with declamatory urgency, with a beautiful bark of a voice, and at the end of the night stepped off stage and serenaded the room. He played nearly all of the solid new record Porcupine, debuted some newer still material (including the wonderfully sweet “Festival Song”), dipped back into Ammunition for “Black Dog,” and sang two of his best songs, “Carry Me” and “Poor Poor L.A.,” with the lines that always bite, because he’s earned the right to call out the competition:
A pack of dull monkeys could write circles around,
That fourth grade, mumbly slang,
Stream of consciousness jive that you call a song.
Is that going to be your story?
In the video below, you can hear him joined by Kevin Buckley (of Grace Basement) on “Lexington Jail,” a song he dedicated to the late Jay Bennett. The two were friends, Bennett played on his second album, and Jay was there when the blues took place.
Photo by: Josh Wildman
Bands that live up to all the excitement you feel before seeing them live are hard to come by, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are definitely one of them, which is why I kept my eyes constantly scanning lists of concert announcements after their newest album, It’s Blitz!, came out in March. Success! Saint Louis got a date with the band for June 2nd!
It will be interesting to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs perform new material, as it has a very different sound from their previous work. In fact, when I am listening to the new album I sometimes get lost and forget what I’m listening to and think I am playing a different band’s music–until I hear the vocals that could only belong to one person. Karen O is one of the greatest lead singers I’ve ever seen or heard. Whether she is dancing and jumping around the stage, moving very slow and fluidly, or even standing still with eyes affixed at just one point, the energy never wains. Other band members Nick Zinner and Brian Chase keep up with the energy for the entire set, leaving not one dry forehead in the whole venue. If you love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs albums, you’ll love the live set even more. Just make sure you don’t have a chronic fear of dancing in public, because there will be lots of that going on, trust me.
Supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will be Grand Ole Party, which will be a great way to start the evening. Hailing from San Diego the band highlights lead singer and drummer Kristin Gundred. The drum beats are hard and fierce, coming straight to the forefront, but still shielded by the power of Gundred’s voice. The vocals have a sound that is at once unique but at the same time familiar, sounding like something you’re sure you have heard before and are eager to rediscover, only to discover that it’s something completely new. According to the band’s MySpace, they are in the process of working on some new material which they may preview on the road.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs w/ Grand Ole Party
Tuesday June 2nd @ The Pageant 6161 Delmar Blvd
Doors @ 7pm – Show @ 8pm
Written by: Deidre Turner
RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Tobacco, Air
Track Picks: Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise, Twin Of Myself, Fields Are Breathing, Smile The Day After Today
On “Eating Us,” Black Moth Super Rainbow have taken a step out of the Pennsylvanian woods and into the modern recording studio (under the guidance of Dave Fridmann, who has worked with The Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney and MGMT, among others). Normally, a band’s mode and location of recording isn’t immediately noticeable when listening to a record, but BMSR seem to make a point of reflecting their surroundings in their music. After all, this is the band that printed the following on an insert for “Dandelion Gum” (their previous record): “Deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania vocoders hum amongst the flowers and synths bubble under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain.” Goofy, yeah, but listen to that record a couple of times and you’ll see where they’re coming from – “Sun Lips” sounds like it’d be right at home amongst the flora and fauna.
Now, two years later, BMSR haven’t altered their approach to making psych-pop so much as tweaked it to accommodate the change in environment. Gone are the sloppy, fuzzed out bass synths and analog warmth of previous records – which, given the recording circumstances, would feel slightly disingenuous anyway. Instead, we get great songs like “Born On A Day The Sun Didn’t Rise” and “Twin Of Myself,” which rely more on silky synth melodies and clean(er) vocoder vocals. The strongest moments on “Eating Us” are those that take full advantage of the high fidelity – “Smile The Day After Today,” for example, is rooted in a gorgeous acoustic melody, which probably wouldn’t have worked as well in their older, fuzzier records.
Yet, I can’t help but feel that Tobacco (the quasi-leader of BMSR and the guy behind the vocoder) was right in avoiding the studio for so long. I miss those fuzzy analog beats and the warmth that accompanies them. Sure, they’ve moved forward and shown that they can adapt to the studio, all while keeping their trademark weirdness intact – but, in my opinion, what set them apart in the first place was their willingness to experiment with lo-fi, unproduced, raw sound. BMSR have made a solid, very listenable record – but they’ve done it best when they’ve been at their grittiest.
BONUS — Ultra rad interactive music video for “Dark Bubbles” — BONUS
My co-workers and I have a long-standing tradition in our office these days: just when the 4:00 slump hits, it’s time to listen to some White Rabbits for inspiration. For those of you who have yet to experience the pounding, piano-driven, air-drumming-inducing brilliance of “Percussion Gun” (off their latest album It’s Frightening), I assure you it’s worth it. It’s worth even the incredulous looks of your next-door colleagues, if you play it loud enough.
Lucky for us, on Wednesday, June 10, we’ll be able to forego our daily ritual of watching White Rabbits on our desktop computer screens and instead witness the six-piece rock outfit live and life-size at the Firebird. I’m so excited for this show, if not to see this tireless group perform my favorite tunes in person, but to feel the pride of seeing a band with Missouri roots, now acclaimed far and away, come back home. Did I mention that they originally hail from Columbia? Seriously, it’s not to be missed. Also joining White Rabbits at the Firebird will be The Subjects (from Brooklyn, where White Rabbits now reside; their MySpace tagline reads “Like Nickleback, but less ballsy”) and St. Louis favorite Jon Hardy and the Public.
For all the excitement this concert is stirring up, I can imagine that next-next Wednesday just feels too far away. This video, by their friend and fellow-Missourian Andrew Droz Palermo, should tide you over till then:
By Julie Shore, Music Department Intern
I hate writing posts like this: Over at the Riverfront Times‘ music blog, A to Z, we reported on the death of Jay Bennett, the ex-Wilco guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. From the post, via the Chicago Sun-Times:
Jay Bennett, a rock musician with deep ties to Chicago best known as a former member of Wilco, died early Sunday morning in downstate Urbana, where he had been running a recording studio, according to a spokesman for his family…
“Early this morning, Jay died in his sleep and an autopsy is being performed,” said Edward Burch, a friend and musician who collaborated with Bennett on the 2005 album “The Palace at 4 a.m.” “The family is in mourning and is unavailable for comment at this time.”…
…by the end of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, the guitarist, songwriter and engineer who was pushing Wilco beyond alt-country into psychedelic, genre-fucked pop was out of the tape-loop and alone with his own talents. Those are considerable, as Bennett’s most recent album, The Magnificent Defeat, makes blindingly (if chaotically) clear. With out-of-control guitars, honky-tonk pianos, whack-a-mole drumming, drunk-at-noon vocals and a lost-weekend desperation, Bennett surrenders to rock & roll’s twisted glee and decadence; and against the odds of his limited voice and lyrics, somehow sounds like a winner.
Bennett was 45.
The sensational John Coltrane documentary wraps up this Sunday as Joshua Weinstein and All Soul, No Borders present the fifth and final hour-long installment of Tell Me How Long Trane’s Been Gone beginning at 10:30PM CST. Highlights this week include: Trane’s fascination with African tonal languages, his rock-star tour of Japan, and why he’d stop playing his horn on stage and just beat his chest and howl in the microphone. Listen for hang-on-every-word interviews with Alice Coltrane, Babatunde Olatunji, Archie Shepp, and many more.
Some new releases from Ubiquity have made their way to KDHX – and they shouldn’t disappoint anyone who has high standards set for Ubiquity. A label well-known for re-issuing funk and soul, to releasing fresh new sounds, here’s the latest:
PPP: Abundance (Ubiquity)
PPP (formerly known as Platinum Pied Pipers) started with their Detroit-based production work, and have grown into a mature – and varied outfit. Including vocals by Saint Louis’ own Coultrain, this album transcends from funky horns to synth-drenched neo-soul.
James Hardway: LA Instrumental (Ubiquity)
Funk with a little bit of world tinge to it – Hardway wants you to imagine L.A. in the 70s. Take a trip!
Betty Padgett: Betty Padgett (Luv N’ Haight)
Another nod to the 70s (but from the Florida coast), this is a reissue of Padgett’s 1975 release. She worked with Milton Wright to record the entire album in one night, at just 21 years old. A local Ft. Lauderdale station ran an ad for Pepsi to her song, “Sugar Daddy” – how come they couldn’t have used it for the new Pepsi Throwback ads?
Shawn Lee Presents: Soul in the Hole (Ubiquity)
More straightforward than his movie score-esque work as Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra, you’ll find plenty of vocals on this album, including some by Paul Butler (of the Bees and Devendra Banhart) the eclectic Darondo, and Nicole Willis.
Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin: Music Is My Medicine (Ubiquity)
While both Ubiquity and Hopkins’ “representatives” continue to mask the identity of Clutchy Hopkins (and some even suggest it’s Cut Chemist of Ozomatli and Jurassic 5), I guess we’ll just have to continue enjoying his music in speculation. The music, even, has a mysterious groove to it.
Nomo: Invisible Cities (Ubiquity)
Recorded during sessions and tours for their last full-length album, Ghost Rock, Invisible Cities continues to build Nomo’s Afrobeat sound with solid horns and driving bass lines. Rigorous touring has put them through Saint Louis not too long ago; hopefully they’ll swing by again soon.
Cross-posted from Beep Beep Boop Boop.