Sunday, January 29, 2012

How To Catch A Mouse

Mice are so damn cute. I really love the skittering little sweethearts, but sometimes in the winter they get into your house and start fucking things up. We had a mouse in the house as recently as yesterday and here is a step-by-step for how to safely and humanely capture and gently release the mouse. 

1. Put an amount of peanut butter or almond butter in the end of an empty toilet paper roll. This is the mouse bait!

2.Place the roll on a high kitchen counter, precariously placed with the nut-butter end sticking over the ledge. The idea is the mouse will crawl through the tube to get the bait and fall safely down into...

3.The tall garbage bin placed below the counter. It has to be tall as hell because the mouse will be freaked and try to jump up and out. Two 1/2 feet minimum height.

4. Go play a weird gig, or do something that will leave the kitchen dark and free of humanistic smells. We went to do a Damned Dogs set in Allen Park. Try to find the weirdest possible thing to do so it leaves the house unstirred for at least an hour.

5.Upon your return the mouse will have been trapped!!! Take it out into a field or somewhere at least a half mile away, otherwise it will just come right back into your house. Give it something rare to eat, give it a name, give it a kiss and then say goodbye until you meet again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Take Time

Checked out Windy & Carl last night at the Sonic Lullaby mini-fest in Berkley, Michigan. Two nights of ambient drone and soft textural music. W&C have been unraveling and recoiling their sonics for almost 20 years and have developed and inarguable signature sound that relies on equal parts subtlety and sensitivity. I've been following their music since about 1996 or so, and watching their incredibly thoughtful evolution has been a constantly thought-provoking and rewarding thing. Details in my mind are blurred, but I think the first time I saw them was at Alvin's in Detroit at part of some Godzuki record release show where ten or eleven bands covered the songs on the Godzuki record. I couldn't believe how icy Windy & Carl rendered the sunny electro-twee of Godzuki's original using just guitars and pedals. It was really transporting, even though there was this strange disconnected reservation to their playing. I didn't really have my head around drone music when I was 20, but I knew I was seeing something unusual and special. Last night was much the same. They started out with Carl on a tape delay unit of some sort and Windy processing her vocals through an electric thumb-piano made of a metal box and contact mic. This dark, ensconcing sound rolled by softly. Eventually they picked up guitars and added to the glowing/growling tones, moving by in heavy gusts until an abrupt yet natural fade back to silence. Their set was so controlled while being almost completely effortless. Like watching winter slowly freeze and thaw in some blurred stop-motion. They just finished a new record on Kranky called "We Will Always Be" which is their first release in about three or four years. It's so good to watch the continuing progress of these kind and talented people, just getting better and more focused as time goes on.

The RFD "Lead Me Home" is a Christian private press record from 1971. I wrote a review of it a few years back and every winter I return to this record and just repeat jam it. The most insular, frozen waiting vibes in some false hippy commune sheen. Seriously an amazing facade of brotherly love masking some deep pit-of-the-stomach depression.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Electric Chair

The past two days Swimsuit has come out from under our rock to play a few really fun shows. The first one on Wednesday night was in Ann Arbor with our friends Bad Indians and Gardens.

B'Indians all blurry and demonic.

Gardens from Detroit in a LEGALIZE IT fashion. They're back to a three piece, down from a quartet. They sounded amazing.
On Thursday we played in Detroit. Two punk shows and it's not even the weekend yet. Fake Surfers were so young they had to get X'd up. Pretty sure they were not straightedege.

Scott Davidson from Butt Babies treein' the bees.

Bleached from LA played. They have some ex Mika Miko people in the band and their records are really good, their live show was pretty cool. They were selling their newest 7" for $10 which is something I couldn't really comprehend, but didn't wanna waste any time thinking about. Maybe it's an LA thing. God, the restaurants in LA are so good. Pure Luck was a place that recently closed, and Vice took us there while we were on tour the week before they shut down. Because it was nearing the end, the waitress hooked us up insanely and five people ate like royalty for $30. Or three 7"s!!!

Thanks to the computer age, you can watch the entire Swimsuit set (and all the other sets) from last night below!
Everyone was happy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cruel Summer

This is the cover of the Billowing record from 2010, "Cruel Summer". Me and Scott DeRoche's minimal warped-sound tape-music project. The Radiant Now posted up the record for download today over here and reminded me of how stoked I was on dubbed out noise and pastel shanty town vibes that summer. We recorded a second full-length's worth of more rhythm-based gnarlings that's still in the process of being edited. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekender Pt. 2

Damned Dogs (aka Damned Dizawgs) took it west last night to participate in Wake Up Weekend, a vegan activism/awareness conference that happens in Grand Rapids every year. This is the second year in a row Amber & I have made it out to jam, eat and celebrate cruelty-free living with out GR crew. I made the fool-hearty choice to not eat all day, saving myself for the chili cook-off and endless flow of vegan grub I was imagining. It was still happening when we got there, but I had waited so long to eat my blood-sugar was midway through writing a suicide note in itself. Nothing some curry slaw salad didn't rectify, and hilariously, we jammed with almost the exact same line up as last year. Radiator Hospital and Royl Space. Absent was XTra Vomit, who played last year and were around this year, but didn't play for some reason. In my hunger I forgot my camera and didn't get any photos all weekend, but I jacked this picture, taken by Matt Halteman, from his facebook.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Curses

Fred Thomas : Front Seat Film from Mostly Midwest on Vimeo.
Then there's this; my old-ass song "The Curse Is Broken! On To New Curses!" performed at Mittenfest in the fading days of last year. The High Strung was supposed to play, but their bassist was stricken by food poisoning and I filled in with a solo set. Can you tell from the noise in the crowd how intensely rapt with wide-eyed wonder the audience was?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random Notes / Out On The Weekend

So much is always happening.
I forgot to write about several important things, like the last Ypsi Flea, which happened about a month ago, but it feels like a year.
A bunch of my homies sold stuff and played music, this was the third time we'd done it. The vibe was a little different for some reason, but it was still really good.
Jules from Bad Indians is modeling the magic marker above. Is that a Sharpie, you might ask? OH HELL TO THE NO, young friend. Look close and you'll see that is actually a "Skerple" magic marker, or a bootleg Sharpie if we're being honest with ourselves. Ryan was on break from school, so we jammed a quick and gnarly City Center set, first one together since May and executed primarily on muscle memory alone.

Raphael jammed a Sail set.

Amber jammed an Avery Feral set.

Annie jammed an Annie Palmer set and Sam came from Grand Rapids to jam a Radiator Hospital set before heading back home to play three other shows with three other bands that same night.

Then it was winter.

I went to Chicago last weekend to play the Tomorrow Never Knows festival as City Center. I got in the night before to see my friends Wild Belle play and holy fuck, my friend Karen was there, tour managing for Chairlift!! AND IT WAS HER BIRTHDAY!! I took a picture where you could actually see her, but somehow the photo above says a lot more about the night. Pure cake feelings.

The next day I hung out with Erik all day and worked on some recordings at his home studio. Drew and Gabe came through with a bag of new tapes literally bursting at the seams, and Matt from LOE, Amy and some other homies were in attendance. Elisse made me cookies (!!above!!) and shot a video of the set (below). I AM BORING LOOKING when I play! Gotta work on that in 2012. This was my first live performance of the year, a year which already feels really important, fucked up and ride or die for some/so many reasons. I had to leave pretty quickly after I played, missing some friend's bands, but had to get home for the Monday morning office jam. Chicago was such a positive vibe though. Everybody seemed to be doing well, and the winter felt warm.

City Center - Schuba's 1/15/12 from Elisse LaRoche on Vimeo.
Everyone was happy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Treasure Teeth

I've been working for a little while on mastering a single for this relatively new band Treasure Teeth. This duo is from London but now lives in Brooklyn and they sound kinda like if High Places had only ever listened to Massive Attack and ran all their gear through a Jamaican mixer where King Tubby was dubbing the right channel while Laurie Anderson was tweaking the left. Super stereo and supremely fantastic songs. It's actually a project from Barbara from Whiteoak, who I wrote about all the way back in the summer of 2008. Remember that? ME FUCKING NEITHER!! Check out songs, sights and goings on from Treasure Teeth on their blog.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I Don't Remember Halloween

Corpsekisser are in the UK on tour right now! My really good friends Heather and Ethan have been doing the band for maybe 7 years or so, and I think they've played under 20 shows! This number may have gone up with their jet-settin' jams, but I feel like when you play between one and 5 shows a year, you're doing something right. Their LP "Cry Laughing" was the first record on my label Life Like, and they have a bandcamp you can check out over here... Thanks to Kimberly for the photo!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Silver Cycles

Above: Passed out as hell in the van, somewhere in Europe, 2005. 
Below: Merchandise table in Baltimore, fall 2003. 

I've been transferring (actual) hundreds of cassette four-track masters and last night I came across an unmarked cassette that was probably from 2000 or 2001. Along with two horrendously boring instrumentals, there was a lost take of my friend Tim Sendra from Veronica Lake, Madison Electric and currently Santa Monica Swim & Dive Club doing the vocals for an early version of what would become "No Good With Secrets" on Saturday Looks Good To Me's All Your Summer Songs record.  In the end Matt Smith from Outrageous Cherry ended up singing the version that ended up on the record, but I did a mix of Tim's track and here it is, downloadable below. I remember this song was vaguely about a severe in-the-closet love affair, but like a lot of my early songs, I'm not sure that the meaning came through loud and/or clear. This version has somewhat different lyrics and no string section. Not a lot of stuff from that early SLGTM time didn't get released somewhere, so it's astonishing that this slipped through the cracks for so long.

Saturday Looks Good To Me "No Good With Secrets" (Tim Sendra Vocals)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Miss Esme

Yesterday I got a call that my friend Esme Barrera in Texas was dead. She was murdered in her home in Austin at 3AM, coming back from New Year's Eve celebrations. No arrests have been made at this point and from all the facts I've been able to gather, this unthinkable crime was committed without reason or even logic. It feels grossly inadequate to even try to sum up anything this horrific in a blog post, but there are no adequate outlets, no better ways to deal, really. Most importantly to anyone reading this, there is a site set up to help the family pay for services and expenses. I would urge anyone reading to donate if you can or at least pass the word along. 

Mostly for my departed friend, myself and anyone sharing this loss with me, I've collected some thoughts below. I'm overcome with sadness and a burning sense of anger for the ugly, useless world where something like this just happens. Someone killed my friend, on purpose, seemingly at random and I'll never ever see her again. All of the things people say when they lose someone too soon like this ring true more than ever for me right now. Esme was a ray of pure, beautiful light and while no one deserves to meet such a fate, this really happened to the wrong person. Talking to VC earlier today, he said he was trying to keep in the forefront of his mind how amazing she was. Rather than let the feelings of pain and injustice overtake me, I'm trying to do the same. I send my love and condolences to anyone and everyone feeling this grief right now, and I send my love to Esme. You will be missed like no other.

I met Esme in 2003. She and my dear friend Esme from Detroit had met online somehow, most likely because they shared an uncommon name and both dug weird indie pop. With this single degree of separation, Esme came to see Saturday Looks Good To Me doing an especially nonsensical show with Helios Creed and some other gnarler bands at Emo's in Austin. Instead of sheepish introductions or awkwardness, Esme approached with glowing hugs, an endless stream of quick-witted jokes and the open-hearted warmth of reuniting with someone who you'd been friends with for decades. Just like that, she and I were insta-homies.

For me, 2003-2006 were spent almost entirely on tour with one band or another. I met a lot of great people in that time, but my friendship with Esme transcended most of the traveling acquaintances I made. I drifted through lots of towns multiple times, but seeing Esme in Austin was always kind of like a homecoming. No matter who I was travelling with, my friends were her friends within minutes of meeting and the good times rolled in the most natural, fun way every time. I saw Esme as much as four or five times a year in this heavy-touring era, and there were no moments that didn't rule. I remember sneaking into some pool within 8 hours of meeting Esme and swimming for the first time in years. Coming up from the water, seeing her smiling, this person I barely knew gave me a look so familiar and loving, as if to wordlessly telecommunicate "There, isn't that a lot better?" A bright moment of peace in what was then my regularly-clouded head.

I did a solo tour where I played a show at a rad church on the East side of town. Esme came through, excitedly and introduced me to her date, some random and nice-enough seeming guy. Minutes later she made up something about wanting to show me the kitchen or the basement of the church and as soon as we were out of sight from the dude she came with we started making out in what we both deemed an "extremely junior high" fashion. Sorry if you were her date on that occasion, but you have to admit, it's pretty funny. The circumstances and the factor of fun were what made it so awesome. Esme was always a babe, and as such, obsessed with babes and talking about them with other babes. Our shared admiration and perma-crush for each other grew from clumsy moments like that one in the church to deeply honest and real confidence in one another. If something or someone was hurting either of our hearts, there was a kinship and comfort we shared together that only true romantics can latch onto. For the most part, this happened with a thousand miles between us, but it was as real and beautiful in late night drunken text threads as it was sitting side by side, smiling.

As the years went on, our friendship grew and changed with our lives. From afar I heard of her adventures in teaching, new loves, a few rough breakups, a million songs and three million jokes. I moved around a lot, but stayed in touch. City Center ended up in NYC for a week of shows the same time Esme was there on vacation. Not sure if the photo to the left of she and Ryan repeatedly fake-puking into each other's shirts gives you any indication of how cool a week it was, but it was.

There are countless times with Esme, coming through in fragmented memories, that made up a huge and endlessly happy picture. For any time of complete ridiculousness and abandon, there were times of quiet sweetness. For every complicated joke about suitcases full of Skittles, a heartfelt expression of real love and appreciation. This says nothing about the almost older-sibling like wealth of excitement and desire to share cool music, art, culture and times that Esme had. Our friendship existed in mix CDs, care packages, pen-pal letters, late night Taco runs, early morning hungover haircuts, bus rides, long walks, heartbreak texts and one long hug that started the moment we met and even yesterday can't end.

The most amazing thing about Esme is that everyone (EVERYONE) I know who knows her feels the same way as I do to some degree. She was a friend to all and her absence will be felt in a dazzling, huge, almost incomprehensible way. I am so lucky to have known her and we didn't even live in the same town. I can only imagine what her closest day-to-day homies, students, loves and everyone else she touched in her 29 years on the planet must be going through. If you were lucky enough to meet Esme, you know exactly what I mean. There's no good way to end this because I can't quite accept that I won't have any more times with my cherished friend. I guess rather than an end, I'll leave this as open as I can and say I'll miss you Miss Esme, and we all will, and the times we were all blessed enough to have had together will exist eternally anytime anyone thinks of your smile or hears your laughter in their head.