Last week, WFMU‘s ever-amazing “Beware of the Blog” announced that they would be holding the first-ever 24-hour fund-raising drive to cover their operating costs between their annual, excellent Marathons in the spring.
WFMU prides itself on holding only one on-air fundraiser per year: our annual Marathon, which is a 2-week-long frenzy of great prize giveaways, hilarious co-host banter, surprise guests, and more caffeine than a case of Sparks (RIP). The listener support we bring in during the Marathon is normally enough to fuel our fire for a full year. While WFMU came very close to making our goal during the Marathon this March, we still fell short (I smell recession).
Because it’s tough to operate with an empty bank account and there’s an entire winter to get through until our next Marathon, WFMU needs to break with tradition by holding a brief on-air fundraiser next week.
Truly independent free-form radio is crucially important for music, the arts, and culture, and WFMU is (in this author’s humble opinion) the cream of the crop. I know times are tough all over, but any money you can give to these guys will help tremendously.
In this age of institutional corruption where money buys programming on the overwhelming majority of commercial radio, this station remains one of the few detached from this corporate influence and wholly dedicated to taste. The station has launched thousands of bands and tastemakers (Jeff Magnum was a DJ at WFMU, for goodness sake!) and are tremendously important in shaping modern culture. It’s your social obligation – like PBS or NPR, but for young people.
The 24-hour marathon just started about half an hour ago, and runs through tomorrow. You can donate on the phone at 800-989-9368 or online here. And while you do so you can listen to the station online.
I wanted to quickly break my exam-week silence to mention that my friend Ryan’s band The Bustin Timberfakes are playing their debut as part of MIT’s Spring Weekend:
I know this band is a dream come true for Ryan, quite literally. He’s been describing the concept of this band to me for over a year and a half. Anyone in Boston tomorrow should consider becoming an “MIT student” for the day and going see this show. This is going to be the best thing to hit MIT since the Time Traveler’s Convention of 2005 (which was awesome). I have a feeling the Timberfakes are going to bring it.
In what’s becoming an annual early-spring tradition, over the weekend I spent some quality time with Gretchen and Michelle (both fabulous women, the latter of which just so happens to be having a birthday today) wandering the record stores of Brooklyn and the Village looking for good music. I found a bunch this time around; here are my favorites:
Upon arrival we hung out with a bunch of the house DJs at Green Point bar Matchless. The crew at Matchless play some of the best funk/soul/rockabilly/country 45s you will ever hear, and the group were spinning up a storm. One of them played this classic Nathaniel Mayer track, which belongs on any party mix:
Nathaniel Mayer – (I Want) Love and Affection (Not The House of Correction)
Over at Other Music I discovered BrooklynPhiladelphia artist Kurt Vile. He’s got an incredibly psych/lo-fi/homespun feel about him, mixing ambient noise and droning guitars with some lovely singing (colored under layers of filter and reverb) and natural pop sensibility. I’ve been listening to his record, Constant Hitmaker, every morning since I picked it up.
Kurt Vile – Freeway
I also discovered Yo La Tengo side project Condo Fucks while there. I suppose when you’re the single coolest indie rock band on the planet you can convince your label to put out anything. Here, they created a fictitious New London, Connecticut 60s garage rock band and had them “reunite” in time to do a ton of 60s and 70s covers. In preparation for listening to this, I’d recommend putting on Don’t Press Your Luck! The IN Sound of 60′s Connecticutfor historical context. The album artwork is killer, complete with a fabricated back catalog of older Condo Fucks records (with hits like “I Hate Nutmeg,” “Let’s Get Rid of New Haven,” “Merritt Parkway Freeze-Out,” “New London Calling,” and “The Girl From The Outlet Mall”) and a letter from Joe Lieberman, thanking the band for all of their help during his 2000 Presidential Campaign. Here’s a Slade cover they put on the album’s closer:
Condo Fucks – Gudby T’Jane
Speaking of 60s garage rock, rock reissuers Past & Present put out an amazing double album compilation featuring two 80s compilations of 60s garage rock (music really is cyclical): Off The Wall Vol. 1 & 2: Off The Wall & Skeletons In The Closet. This mainly features American garage rock, including a lot of fantastic midwest garage bands. Here’s a sample:
The Opposite Six – I’ll Be Gone
And to round this off with something really peculiar, fans of the Buddha Machine (like me) will appreciate this Tristan Perich concept album:
That’s not cool album artwork. The album is an 8-bit electronic piece, programmed into the console in the center, and hand wired by Perich to run inside of a jewel case (that black gizmo all the way on the right is a 1/8″ headphone jack). The CD itself is playable. How’s that for inefficient retro-futurism?
This is probably as good a time as any to mention that Saturday is Record Store Day. Stores all over the country celebrate with in-house performances and sales. Be sure to go out and support your local music scene.
The rain kept us from having a Sox Opening Day today, but Bostonians have another anniversary to celebrate. Mike Dreese, co-founder of Boston mainstay Newbury Comics, sent this message out to Newbies fans on Facebook:
If there’s one establishment from Boston I truly miss, it’s probably this place right here. Not only is it one of the best places to stock up on records and random kitsch, Newbies is an excellent case study for the rest of the music industry: by diversifying their product line and other brilliant tactical decisions, Newbies today is 28 stores strong, has no outstanding debt, and is still opening new stores. They have a lot to teach the rest of the retail music industry; we’d all be wise to watch and learn.
So as a Bostonian, music industry geek, and record store junkie: thanks, Mike. Here’s an apropos Piebald song for the day (at least the opening line, anyway):
We’re all too familiar with the endless lawsuits suffocating the world of music, and so we decided to do something different. Instead of threats, demands, and legal letters, we contacted Gwendolin, told her we loved her work, and offered a formal license in exchange for an option to purchase them at discount. So, rather than a new enemy we now have a new friend, and a beautiful Big Fluff Pi. Take that as a lesson, music-industrial complex!
Thanks for the tip, Conor. And you can grab one of those pillows here, if you don’t mind parting with 99 Euros.
South By Southwest (SXSW) is a gigantic music, film, and “interactive” industry conference which dominates Austin, Texas for a few weeks every March. It is probably the single biggest event the music industry has annually, and draws countless throngs of industry acts and professionals. Anyone who’s anyone in the emerging music industry will come to SXSW.
In addition to demonstrations of technology (Twitter, for example, launched at the ’07 SXSW), panels, and lectures, the show is famous for providing an endless stream of concerts. Shows run virtually around the clock in every single space large enough to host a stage in the city of Austin, and bands have launched their entire careers after a good showing at SXSW.
For several years, to help accommodate those attending, this website has been hosting large BitTorrent files of virtually all of the bands performing at SXSW (quasi-sanctioned by the festival, and loved by all of the acts featured). Last year, Ryan and I used the torrent as our commute music going to and from the office for about a month, rating each song as we went. It was a great way to sift through them (even if we only ever got as far as the C’s).
As Ryan reports today, this year’s torrent is up, featuring five gigabytes of songs spread over three torrents. That’ll translate to just shy of a 1000 songs or so. To a new music lover, this is like Christmas. I can’t wait.
I’m not a rich lobbyist, I’m not a native of DC, and I’m not a member of the Democratic party. Somehow my name didn’t come up when Senators Kerry and Kennedy were drafting the guest list for the Eastern Inaugural Ball. GWU is holding a ball too, but tickets are sold out, and besides, I don’t think that would be my scene. The Black Cat is hosting an Andrew Bird/Ted Leo show which would be all kinds of amazing, but tickets are sold out. So I feared on this, the most exciting Inaugural our country has seen in decades, I was going to be the only kid in DC without a cool ball to attend.
Well, my fears have been laid to rest. CreativeDC wrote today about The Art of Change ball, a celebration of creative artists in the DC area. It’s happening up on 7th and New York NW at 8PM on January 20th. Included will be two floors of dancing, a variety stage, an art gallery, and something called a “fire performance area.” Sounds like quite the shindig. I don’t think it’s part of the “Ten Inaugural balls” the President is supposed to attend, but I also don’t think you’ll need a cocktail dress or a tuxedo (“Creative Dress Required” says the website). For info click the link above. Anyone else interested in attending this?
[edit - I added "A" to the title. Just realized that the lack of indefinite article made it sound as though I were accusing the Flaming Lips of having little love for their fans. Quite the opposite is true, from my view.]
Since about 2005 I’ve been very excited for the Flaming Lips’ Christmas on Marsto finally come out. Sad to say no theaters in DC were playing it during its brief tour through the indie film houses, but nevertheless I resolved to get it on DVD as soon as it hit the streets. Since there’s a veritable dearth of good video stores in the District I decided to order it from the Lips directly. And since they had it as an optional bundle with a T-Shirt, I decided to shell out a little extra and get the fan club edition. They’re probably one of maybe five bands I’d consider fan-club-worthy anyway.
I’m awfully glad I did, as the band sent with it an autographed box of popcorn – the better to enjoy the movie with, I presume. How sweet (or salty – don’t know if it’s kettle corn or regular popcorn).
As a business decision I think this is killer. The goodwill you get probably easily outweights the couple bucks per unit it would cost to do something like this. Sure did the job on me.