Archive for the ‘New Music and New Discoveries’ Category

One of the best bands I’ve ever heard in my life.

Heaven Adores You Original Score COVER

Heaven Adores You

Recently I’ve spent quite a bit of time immersed in the world of Elliott Smith’s posthumous recordings as selected for the movie ‘Heaven Adores You’. Naturally I have an automatic empathy with the efforts of fans and friends seeking to celebrate and memorialise someone whose work they admire – the fact it does some real-world good via the Portland charity Outside In certainly provides further warmth in that respect.

Was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to Will Brooks of Dälek – it’s interesting watching some of the same spirit that motivated the U.S. punk underground surviving in numerous forms. In the end I suspect it isn’t the music that creates the culture, it’s the shared culture, the people, first – the instruments and sound come after ward.

Also wanted to share a lengthy review (thanks Brett for noticing it) of ‘Cobain on Cobain’ from PopMatters. Megan Volpert is a very experienced and expansive writer so enjoyed reading this on many levels.

In other ‘stuff’…Well, I wasn’t so chirpy about the Melvins’ latest – but, as ever, it doesn’t matter because those guys are an idea fountain and there’ll be new, fresh thoughts spurting out of them soon enough. In the end I admire a band willing to walk the high-wire and fail publicly – at least these guys ain’t save even if this is far from their best record. The track with Krist Novoselic, alas, I was too distracted by the horrors of the accordion to even notice the bass playing so I’ve not got any deep analysis of this latest on vinyl outing for Mr. Novoselic. I would say though, love that ‘The Decay of Lying’ track. Awesomeness.

Overdue but if you’re looking for a few new bits n’ pieces to check out in the New Year I’m sure there’s some good stuff herein.

My big pick was the Dumb Numbers/Melvins/David Yow/David Lynch boxset from Joyful Noise. An awesome thing in every way with the musical contents matching the beauty of the handmade wooden box, printing and sleeve designs (plus vinyl patterns.)

I’ve an undeveloped theory about the human brain’s musical capacity – that it’s possible to become saturated. Likewise, now, it’s ever rarer to feel something is ‘an event’ as opposed to just more product hitting the market. Increasingly the greatest pleasure and greatest gift, for me, is when I receive music direct from people, where I can purchase their works from them directly (and hopefully my money therefore keeps them funded and surviving to produce more music) or where a label has an aesthetic and a vibe I appreciate and want to support.

Over the past few months of received music from Jean-Marc Montera (improvisational combinations including a release of French female poets set to music), Siobhan Duvall (quintessential, charming, delightful punk rocker with punk charm), Adam Golebiewski (talented percussion improviser), Eleanor McEvoy in collaboration with Chris Gollon (painter and musician working together – gallery showings in January I believe), Jooklo Duo (glorious Italian avant garde unit)…And many more. Thank you!!

The honourable mentions (Fennesz/King Midas Sound, the Libertines, Sicko Mobb, Eccentronic Research Council, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers) were all 2015 releases. I’ll admit I’ve been listening to and valuing a lot of stuff that wasn’t released in the past year. Any favourites?

Yeah, A$AP Rocky, the Coil ‘Backwards’ release, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Nothing But Thieves had a good album out, Black Honey…Can I recommend the Space Lady once more? I adore the album. Haunts me.

Been quite a year really…The ‘No Seattle: Forgotten Sounds of the Northwest Grunge Era’ compilation did OK apparently and I was delighted to help bring an eye to some of the bands and artists who were forgotten or passed unnoticed at the time. ‘I Found My Friends: the Oral History of Nirvana’  drew a lot of eyes and its been fun to chat on U.S. radio a few times ( and to various newspapers and magazines ( Finishing touches to ‘Cobain on Cobain’ which comes out on February 1st (I believe, I admit I’m not entirely sure…) Then there’s been work on this oral history related to the non-Sonic Youth discography involving Thurston Moore to keep me occupied. Book due to publisher middle of 2016 and apparently to be released in late 2016. Around that, quite a bit of writing for the Vinyl Factory and Words & Guitars…A busy ol’ year even without mentioning the blog, at last count, adds up to 440 articles; 1,400 comments; just under 1 million words… Amazed to be honest that it’s still going Nov 2012 to now.

You’re always welcome to get in touch, – apologies in advance for any slow reply over the New Year period.

A straight-forward, to-the-point, pleasant pair of guys with whom to spend thirty minutes sat round a dictaphone.

Also wanted to share my review of Adam Golebiewski’s “Pool North” record, it’s what I’ve been listening to a lot recently.

The Vinyl Factory invited me to whack together a few thoughts on Sunn O))). Heck, why wouldn’t I jump at the opportunity? Sunn O))) are glorious.

Every band has a window where they run the risk of repetition, of doing the same thing again. Evolution has to happen. Some bands break up. Others wind up releasing novelties – “oh, this is our dance-orientated album…” Many make changes to the environment surrounding the songs – new studio, different equipment, switch of producer. A lot just start sounding like they’re weary of it all, there’s no longer a pressure or a drive underscoring what they’re doing. There’s no perfect answer, these aren’t always irrelevant alterations, sometimes each option has or might rejuvenate an artist.

Sunn O))) have managed change. There’s always a reminder of their mastery over the groove they established over the releases from 1999-2003 whether that means a burst of savage slow power in the midst of a longer composition, or a song given over entirely to wrecking bowels and brains for ten minutes. Around that, however, Sunn O))) has been hugely open to new collaborators, to fresh experiments, to taking past models and refurbishing and reviving them. They’re an intelligent band not in the sense of wearing learning on the sleeves of their cowls, more in the sense that they seem to combine improvisation and on-the-spot experimentation with proper contemplation of how the elements of their sound might be rejigged, how other musicians and instruments can be integrated, how a release might carry a theme or vibe across an entire album…

What the hell. Enjoy.

June 30, 1989. Just a week into their first U.S. tour Nirvana lands in San Antonio, Texas, at a venue called Alfred’s. Every time I discuss what got me started writing the ‘I Found My Friends’ book I always come back to names that intrigued me back in February 2013 when I wrote a post about bands Nirvana shared stages with. Well, this show featured both Happy Dogs and the Swaziland White Band – both curious names that I wanted to learn more about. Ultimately I was lucky enough to hear from members of both bands and, in the former case, it was through the trust and support of Cynthia Bergen who arranged an interview with Jose Soria – former member of Happy Dogs and the subject of a film she was putting together called ‘Strange Places.’ It’s been intriguing learning of the creative collective Cynthia runs and wanting to know more I asked her if she might be willing to let me interview her for the blog…

For a start, we ran through what was coming from the team of which she’s a part – the sheer scale is kind of mind-boggling as is the diversity. “We’ve got a short horror film called ‘Delirium’ pending submission for film festivals…Then the feature film ‘Strange Places’ will complete production at the end of May 2015. There’s the ‘Underground Movement’ web series showcasing various artists, musicians and film-makers – plus the ‘No Sleep’ horror channel that director Isaac Rodriguez has got up and running. Around that there are two books on the way – firstly there’s the ‘Vintage Club Stories: Volume 1’ – that’s a short story collection for summer 2015. Next there’s ‘Dark Cloud’, we’re waiting to announce a release date there. I’m also a fire performer with ‘Nocturnal Sol’

Nocturnal Sol:

Cynthia: “I was a movie buff from a young age – I’ve a lot of memories of eating popcorn and watching movies with my family. Plus I started – fairly early in my teens – writing short stories, poetry, music and frequently going to the movies. So it is ironic that the interests I started off in my early youth would play a big factor in my life today. My first story, the one that actually started it all for my writing, was “Carolina Mansion”, which is still in progress. That was to be my first book and hopefully to be picked up by a publisher and production company. That would have satisfied me. My friend and editor at the time told me ‘I think we have something here,’ by which they meant a story that was worth telling and possibly a movie. But while writing ‘Carolina Mansion’ all of these other stories started popping up in my mind. The interesting thing is these stories were based on true events that I had experienced and vowed never to tell because I was ashamed. For example, ‘Houston, We Have a Problem’, is a story about racism and the hatred endured when I was visiting my German friend in Houston. This story turned out to be my first short film ‘Storm Within the Veins’, which received an Honorable Mention Award’ at the Bayou City Inspirational Film Festival held in Houston, Texas back in October 2012. Educators from a college took an interest in my work which led onto engagements speaking to students about both my writings and short films.”


I asked about the “Strange Places film too given its focus on an individual whose life and past experiences had brought me into contact with Cynthia via the topic of Nirvana.

Cynthia:  “A very good friend of mine, Jolene Blakely, introduced me to a couple; Jose Soria and Vicki Wyman.  Jose was a chef at The Friendly Spot’, a popular local ice house in Southtown, San Antonio.  Jolene’s work as a nurse has always given her a deep empathy for people and their personal experiences – Jolene would frequent ‘The Friendly Spot.’ Vicki would often be there waiting for Jose to finish work, they began to speak and ended up having so many conversations that Jolene gained a true understanding and feeling for the daily struggles the couple endured as black tar heroin users.   Jolene brought Jose and Vicki to my attention and, as a writer, I jumped at the opportunity to speak to them – whereupon I discover that they were a true goldmine of intriguing tales.  These first conversations evolved into a number of more formal interviews and eventually into a lengthier story based on the lifestyle their specific difficulty creates.  I have a section on my website called Hidden Artist where I decided to begin promoting Jose’s art work.  Meanwhile Jose began to list bands he’d performed with, plus those he’d hung out with across the years.  The list of bands…Wow…Nirvana, Happy Dogs, Faith No More, Joy of Pain-it just kept coming.  The couple really opened up about daily struggles alone with their 600.00 dollar a day drug use, and this is how Strange Places came about.  The name itself came from hearing the different areas of their bodies’ heroin addicts are forced to use when injecting their…Demons.  There are scenes in this movie that are going to leave you speechless.

Production-wise we started over a year ago but had to make some adjustments to the cast and crew, brought in some additional talent and just worked hard to ensure that everyone involved, shared the same vision.  The workload is pretty grueling at times but it’s become something to which everyone in the cast and crew (Aaron Martinez, Anthony Fountain, Jolene Blakely, Jesse Salazar III, Isaac Rodriguez, Gloria Bueno, Adam Alexander Ramirez) is devoted so we’re looking at completion date of June 2015.   My role…I think it’s all about the artist and the actors.  I see myself as a collector of creativity.  I’ve found my greatest happiness comes from discovering new talents and collaborating with them in new projects that give them exposure and that gives me the excitement I’m looking for.  I am also a member of ‘Geekdom’, its and organization that has all types of facilitators, people who can help-it’s all just there at your finger.”

Next I just enquired more broadly about what kept her going with what sounds like an incredible workload and so many creative directions. Cynthia started by pointing to the importance of a core.

Cynthia: “I run something called The Vintage Club – it started as an idea for something I was going to open with a friend, I owned the name for ten years but it never went ahead in that form…My motivation comes out in the word ‘Vintage’, from my love for original things – I saw it as a place for any form of music, art, creativity that had a story to tell, something deeper. So, the Vintage Club evolved into The Vintage Club Stories – a fuller idea, a new beginning for myself and hopefully a community with unlimited potential and unlimited expression for those who join us. It’s always been crucial to me, that there are artists, musicians, film makers – a family that believes in my work. What motivates me to continue is that drive for achievement and the will to express my life experiences in text. Positive feedback is always a plus!”


Delirium, Dir Isaac Rodriguez, Synopsis- While investigating a mysterious murder, detective David Freeman uncovers a long-buried secret that traps him in a world of terror. Available on No Sleep Channel Apr 6, 4015

Underground Movement, Dir Anthony Fountain- A series covering bands, artists, and filmmakers in San Antonio, TX, and surrounding areas.

No Sleep Channel, Dir Isaac Rodriguez – A web series of short horror films.

Vintage Club Club Stories:  Vol I, Writer Cynthia Bergen – A collection of Short Stories based on true events.

Dark Cloud (Book)Writer Cynthia Bergen – Classmate that I found out is fated to be incarcerated and later executed.  A story based on true events. Book coming in the fall.

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