Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Overheard conversation...

...waiting to get into an artist talk. Three girls, in designer clothes and designed faces, sat discussing their upcoming dilution of responsibility upon some poor unsuspecting bloke. For this story we'll call them the Three Stupid Boyfriends. Two parts intrigued me enough to write them for later.

"My bridesmaid is the most odd shaped one. I said that if the dress looks decent on you, it will look good on everyone. Some are flat chested and others are pear shaped but she is the oddest by far."

"I told my boyfriend that if I started to look like [my step sister] he was allowed to beat me."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Juju B Solomon - s/t

I've been listening to this record for a few months now. I finally got a copy for WUAG, and this is the review I wrote for the station. First part is my entire history with Juju B, the second part is his past, and the third is a review for the station that is designed to get all those blahcore lovers to play this album.

History of Juju and Myself

I first heard of Juju B when I was at WREK radio in Atlanta. Having a rotation show, I always played what no one else would. I fell in love with "On the Lam" immediately. He had a show for later in the month, so my friend and I gathered courage and went. Courage isn't usually needed for going to shows, except this venue was called "The Banana Hammock." After a weird halal meal of goat bones in chile oil with a side of onions, we spent the better part of an hour driving through a neighborhood looking for the address, but what we found was a nondescript house in a nondescript neighborhood. More courage was needed than we thought. Outside, a scrawny kid was struggling with his equipment. I brought in the amp. Inside was a bizarre dozen of musicians, dropped awkwardly throughout a traditional open air parlor/kitchen area. Three bands later, we were still seated in the parlor, on an earth toned overstuffed love seat, which was only separated from the stage/living room by a mirror and faux African end table. Besides the owners of the house, we were the only ones left. We watched as the scrawny kid quietly plugged in, adjusted the mic, and began to sing about cock blocking with no introduction. It was a religious experience. His delivery was shy, reserved. He never moved more than what was needed to make the notes and his eyes were constantly focused inches above the ground. He thanked us after every song. From then on, I've vowed to get his music out into the ether however possible. He wasn't going to do it himself, and neither was his label.

History of Juju B

Juju B Solomon is actually Benjamin Solomon. A self professed hippie, he moved to India awhile back and attempted to write a novel. Instead, he worked in a textile factory, where he was told to increase production. With pigtails and a purple aura, he constantly had problems communicating with the workers. He never fit in - religiously, culturally, any -ly. He was a dog in a bright red dress. A freak alone. A friend then gave him a Givson guitar. Not Gibson, Givson - the Indian "version" of a Gibson. After cutting his hair and growing out his finger nails, he wandered around Delhi writing these narratives and moping. He came back to the States, came to Atlanta, and is now completely ignored by the critics and fans alike.

The Review

Many of you might be repulsed by the fact that this album has a guy and a guitar and not much more. But don't! Genuinely funny words, genuinely charming vocal inflections, this album is not folk, singer-song writer, local, any of that. It's a collection of stories about a genuinely confused and horny American boy in India with guitar accompaniment. I keep saying genuine, because that's its greatest strength. Released on a label so indie that their head quarters is a run down brick and mortar converted shack in the seedy underbelly of Atlanta, Juju sing talks his way through things you typically don't hear addressed on plastic. The constant feeling is that he never thought any one would hear his songs, so they're savagely honest and, well, genuine. Play all the time.

Jumbling Towers

Over the past couple o' years, a few unwritten rules have been written for indie pop/rock. It's unspeakable, but unmistakable. We expect our underground artists to sound either professionally unprofessional (think Steve Albani), like it's been recorded on a 4 track, or to have a totally clean and polished sheen. Jumbling Towers isn't any of this, it sounds truly unprofessional. It's refreshing. It's four midwestern dudes with four different ideas about music. The vocals are a tongue and cheek British dandy impersonation, with hints of the David Byrne. Drums sound like cheap ass drums, riffs sound like riffs, the bass does some good nearly Joy Division stuff. There's a lot of DIY layering. There's that insufferable Rhodes keyboard and the droning organ. And it all works, together, passingly well. I know nobody knows of this band, but it sounds uncannily like Grape Digging Sharon Fruits. It's not one of the best albums of 2007. It's not one of the greatest albums of all time. It's unassuming, quirky in the most genuine way, indie tunes. Awesomely self released, some real promise in the future. Indie. That's it.

Oh, yea, this was the first draft. Later on I included a bit on the drumming. The drumming is really terrible sounding, cheap and tinny. It keeps this album from greatness. I've been in touch with the band, and they mentioned that it was the only part they didn't record themselves. They hated the sound as well. In other words, in the future, if they get that worked out, they will have an amazing album. Keep Jumbling Towers in mind for the future.

Jose Gonzales - In Our Nature

Rock began from the musings of the poor on the acoustic guitar. Anymore, it seems rock is ending in the same fashion, crawling back towards its roots. A classic story of a rags to riches king dying in exile. Folk, singer song writer, whatever you want to call it, has been descending, slowly, on our station for decades. A smog of crisp quarter and half notes bellow from the smoke stack fingers of the folk guitarist, suffocating the shelves and drowning the DJs.This is no fault of Jose Gonzalez, an Argentinian Swede. These are all expertly crafted, folk inspired, acoustic, singer-song writer tunes with average lyrics. I'm simply tired of expertly crafted, folk inspired, singer-song writer tunes. On any instrument.

Old Time Relijun - Catharsis in Crisis

A swamp of upright bass, dirty delta blues guitar, scary ass screeching saxophone birds manically emerging from the cloudscape, hauntingly powerful Captain Beefheart vocals growled from beyond the grave, drum riffs rhythmically removing your brain: this is an album apart. After 7 of these things, Arrington de Dionyso is starting to get things together. It always works, but on the songs that everything comes together perfectly, it's impossibly catchy and horrifying. And, oddly, a few times, it really reminds me of Television, if Television were a delta blues cover band.

People - Misbegotten Man

You know how people at Panera and Borders always "appreciate" jazz? No one ever admits to something so pedestrian as the verb "to listen".But, with People, I really do appreciate the music. (Some listening also happens.) I appreciate bands still willing to make challenging music. Rock hasn't been dangerous since the Ramones were used to sell Pepsi, maybe even longer. I appreciate how there isn't any art house stuff in rotation. I appreciate how this album sucks by any modern convention yet they still had the balls to not only record it, but to spend the money sending it to radio stations all over the country. Girl singer that moves erratically in and out of tune. Drummer who doesn't stretch or shrink time, he ignores it completely. Incomprehensible 17 syllable words and a a guitar that follows its own trajectory all together. Accepting them on their own terms, this album isn't spectacular. It gets tedious quickly. By the second song, you know all the tricks. By the fifth, you begin to feel dizzy. By the end, your ears start to bleed. But for radio use, I highly recommend playing at least one song a day. They do stand alone quite well, especially alongside a traditional verse-chorus-verse indie pop ditty.