Lecture circuit

Lame MP3 logo

And now for something completely different: most likely because of my recent articles in Electronic Musician, I’ve just been asked to lecture at Washington and Lee University next week on the various audio media formats and their implications for the record industry. Vorbis nerds unite!

Totally unexpected Lucinda Williams train wreck

Lucinda Williams

Binge, part three: apparently disliking Lucinda is a contentious position. PopMatters now says I’m their “resident fan rankler” and even ran a counterpoint essay!

Williams somewhat redeemed herself with “Honeybee”, an unreleased song stuffed with reckless anthropomorphism that puts her quirkiness and general lack of shit-giving on the same level as Pixies frontman Black Francis. In general, though, she spent too much time fighting with her overbearing guitar players, who continued to heap blues runs upon her by the bushel, scaring off what little poignancy hadn’t already departed in a huff.

Tim Reynolds live review

Tim Reynolds

PopMatters binge, part two: Tim Reynolds.

You’d think that the opportunity to see a master up close as he works his instrument in the raw would be a transcendental experience. With all due respect to Reynolds’ spacey wobbles and echo-laden swirls, that wasn’t really the case; he seemed to do best when he wasn’t saddled with duties of pulse, rhythm, or harmony. When he put his fingers on autopilot and let them free-associate on the fretboard, it made for a stupefying display, but his talents were ultimately wasted on rhythm guitar.

Bill Callahan live review

Bill Callahan

PopMatters binge, part one: Bill Callahan.

“Woke on a Whaleheart” was the first record he released under his own name, and, ironically enough, his return with a larger ensemble came only after dropping the band name. The logical inversion, of course, is that it can be a bit harder to see the man beneath the songs at times, but they’re still put to good use—Callahan’s songs are fattened up as much by the violin and bass as by the drum fills and counterpoint. “Cold Blooded Old Times”, in particular, is driven by biting octave dyads on a violin which, given its aggression, might as well be a distorted guitar. Eighth notes aren’t swung, they’re bludgeoned.

Concert For Virginia Tech


PopMatters seems to think this is a concert review, but I’m not so sure. Judge for yourself.

Syncopated mind games culminated during “#41”, when opener John Mayer turned up for his guest spot with staccato blues-guitar runs that answered each dotted sixteenth note in kind. In what I thought was bound to be the emotional climax of the evening, Mayer closed his solo by echoing the central sax riff, then stepped up to the mic and sang harmonies for each note, eyes wide and head shaking as if to convey his dismay at the circumstances that had brought him there. I was wrong: DMB was about to up the ante.

The B-52s bomb


PopMatters just posted my review of last month’s Charlottesville performance by the B-52’s.

Their moves were still outlandish: frontman Fred Schneider seems to have decided to split the difference between Screech and Carlton, displaying kinetics that threatened to degenerate at any moment into snorkel dancing or walking like an Egyptian. Schneider has been getting short shrift for decades, and it’s time we finally gave him his due: he is, without a doubt, the whitest rapper ever. A sort of Pat Boone for New Wave, he yaps on about shellfish with the same inept rhyme scheme your eighth-grade science teacher used when he decided that a rap would be a cool way to teach the kids about plate tectonics.

Battles live review


My review of last month’s Battles show at the Satellite Ballroom has just been published on PopMatters.

At any given moment, the three musicians might be working six instruments—including guitars, keyboards, bass, and electronics. Braxton and Williams are armed with everything from Echoplexes to Moogerfoogers, and Konopfka spends half the show down on his knees twiddling knobs on God knows what else. But at the end of the day, Stanier is the heart, and all the gadgetry is just a Rube Goldberg machine for him to destroy with his drumsticks.

It’s kind of a long story, but this was originally slated to be a Monkeyclaus article, which means I also got to do a live recording. Unfortunately, the guys later decided they don’t want us to release it. That’s too bad — the show was awesome.

DMB update

Dave Matthews Band

Well, the material in question has been pulled from the DMB web site — probably because The Hook decided to put that little blog news blurb into last week’s print issue.

The DMB stamp of approval (so to speak)

The Hamburglar

In what I suppose might be construed as the latest good news in my continued feeble attempts at building a writing career, I’ve been plagiarized by the Dave Matthews Band. It appears that they decided to flesh out their overview of the local music scene using an article I wrote for The Hook way back in 2005.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Drillfield Vigil

Since I grew up in Blacksburg, the recent Virginia Tech murders hit close to home, and I wrote the closing essay in the current issue of The Hook. Please take a moment to read it or reflect; either will do.

Antibalas recording and review


Monkeyclaus has posted an article I wrote about the recent Antibalas performance at Starr Hill. One unique aspect of this particular writing gig was that it also involved getting a live recording of the show. Be sure to check out the audio, even if it’s just for the first few minutes — the intro riff is fantastic.