Friday, December 17, 2010

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart: January 15, 1941 - December 17, 2010

So today Captain Beefheart died. Maybe he died thirty years ago when Don Van Vliet said so. After demolishing all accepted norms and practices for "rock" music Van Vliet walked away. He was an artist and maybe he said all he could say with sound, maybe the desert spirit's spell was too strong to resist. He didn't make music, he took it's rotting corpse and burned it,smeared the ashes on a cactus and took a picture. He made blues out of oranges and reds, conjured monsters from electricity and wire. No artist made more of an impression on my youthful mind when all that wasn't Top 40 excited me. I picked up Trout Mask Replica, having read it was an "important" record. I didn't even like it but I was drawn to it. It made no sense to me. Up until that point I wanted music to pat my forehead and tell me everything was going to be ok in the most matronly way possible. I needed a soft kiss before the nightmares and Beefheart's music was the fever dream: vivid, disorienting, and impossible to describe to the healthy minds and ears chosen to protect us from the other. Eventually, I came to realize music wasn't the end, it was the means and Don Van Vliet was my greatest teacher.

I did a special tribute to Captain Beefheart with my friend/cohost of
Just Music Casey Block today on East Village Radio. You can stream the archive here:

Thursday, December 16, 2010


10.Magma live at Highline Ballroom - even the bourgeois seating plan of that shithole couldn't ruin the waves of Zeuhl beauty flowing from the stage. One of those rare occurences where an artist that arguably peaked over 30 years ago can still write interesting material. I still don't know what the fuck Vander is talking about.

9.Hexbreaker Quintet @ Port D'or - yeah, theyre all buddies but if they sucked I'd tell you. definitely worth the trip to the hinterlands of Brooklyn.

8. Nurture Abuse @ 13 Thames - perfomance was great, but the "West Side Story" like fracas between the early noise show scum and the coked out party fucks swooping in for the late show rave was even better.

7.Northampton Wools @ The Rock Shop - Nace/Moore with the addition of Corsano. Looks good on paper, sounds better in person. Bill and Thurston may be the best gtr combo since Betts/Allman. Corsano proving once again to be one of the best listeners around.

6.Lussuria "Silk and Honey" CS (Hospital) - 20 minutes of dark ambient with one of the best vocal samples ever.

5. Trepaneringsritualen "Septentrional" (Hanson) - sick, twisted industrial blackness from the always reliable Hanson Records. They don't have a porn star in the band so I doubt anyone cares.

4. Sawyer/Yeh/Wooley @ union pool - improv from three of the finest this pathetic city has to offer. this set made me hard and despite me slobbering congratulations all over him everytime we meet, Wooley is still a prick to me.

3. C.Lavender/Ceci Moss @ Triple Canopy - real women doing real noise.

2. Yellow Swans "Going Places" (Type) - yeah, they toned it down somewhat from earlier work but this record is so intricately layered and constructed it hits every sweet spot in my body. the warmest record ive heard in a long time.

1.Mark Mcguire - Please don't lump this guy in with the tidal waves of nu-age garbage that has been rolling through the blogosphere. I've been brought to tears listening to the simple majestic beauty of Mcguire's guitar excursions both live and on record which probably means I'm a giant pussy but fuck it. This isn't some kid fucking around with expensive toys trying to pretend its Berlin in 1977. Totally outside of any trend/genre, Mcguire makes music that will be cherished for years to come while his peers move on to exciting careers as publicists,hedge fund managers and professional vacationers.