Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Yes I'm Leaving (is a band) / I know a place where you can put your money.

Becoming increasingly convinced that Australians survive on a diet of ground meat and terrible beer. Case in point:

Yes I'm Leaving comes out of Sydney and they've got a record called Slow Release coming out September 29 on Homeless Records. There's going to be a limited pressing of 100 grey/white records, too. You can preview "One" from it at Stereogum. And for those of us who aren't up on much of Australia's music scene, Yes I'm Leaving has got a pretty great record from 2013 that's sold out but is still accessible by stream.

Speaking loosely of Homeless Records, Dan Melchior has been part of their roster in the past, and if you've followed along here every so often, you might've come across a post on Dan and his wife Letha, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma almost four years ago, has experienced a whole variety of tumors since, and has been making her way through as many treatments as are available. Financially, cancer is quite draining -- if you've ever been a patient of any sort in an American hospital, there's a good chance that you're already aware. Factor in the obligation to give up work due to disability (Letha) or caretaking (Dan), and you've got yourself a hole. This is where assistance is very much needed. In addition to the Paypal account set up for Letha's medical fund in 2012, you can help them out by purchasing Hunger, a Dan Melchior und Das Menace best-of of sorts that was curated by John Dwyer and recently released on Castle Face. You can purchase any of Dan or Letha's records to help, really, and they're all available here.

Additionally and related, I recently set up a Give Forward page to help reboot donations to their medical bills and living expenses, and while we've gotten to a fabulous start, almost $3,800 in a single month, donations are quickly losing momentum. If Letha can make it four years beyond a Stage 4 diagnosis, then there's a good chance medicine has come far enough to help her fully recover -- let's pitch in and ensure that she's got the financial coverage she needs to get completely treated and make it happen. Can the fund reach $5,000 by the end of the week?

(You can also click that spiffy long button in the top right corner of the page)

Sting's daughter, strangely, has a voice like Sting

Thank the jesus, Bry Webb is back

For some reason, I've known very few Constantines fans over the last decade-plus, but those known to me have had an intense love affair with the band's music, myself included, and despite the variety of songwriting and genres covered over a span of four albums and a couple of EPs, this small cult of intense fans has loved every song, every word, every style covered. And if you understand the transition from 2001's biting "Some Party" to 2008's "I Will Not Sing a Hateful Song," in which frontman Bry Webb essentially vows not to be the angry, sardonic man he once was, the fan's appreciation of this range is an enormous testament to his songwriting ability and range.

Maybe there is something to the idea that someone who takes up family life gives up his identity as a fighter and becomes a lover in a way that is beyond his control. Maybe settling down merely suppresses the fighter in him until it has reason to re-emerge. Maybe Webb decided to start writing mellower songs because screaming literally pained his throat. Shit hurts. But this range they developed allowed the band to dip their toes into softer methods despite having acquired a vaguely punk identity, and gave them the opportunity to transition from blue-collar punk rock to blue-collar Americana/folk. So it makes perfect sense that what they transitioned to is what Webb is as a solo artist; he's now in his late 30s, he's as grey as his voice, and he sings as a husband and father. The phrases that creak from his mouth are the sounds of honest heart and work, manifesting themselves as poetry. "Positive People" is so incredibly soothing, with no more than a couple fingers on acoustic guitar and a slide in the background: "Strength through boredom/strength through joy/you can't ignore them/you can't avoid positive people."

Webb did a really solid interview with Believer, in which he says, "There’s more anger in me probably now than there ever has been, because I see what kind of world my son is going to be involved in, and that terrifies me in a lot of cases. Toward the end of Provider it turns into that mode. Free Will is even less idealistic." But what he can offer his family is this: "The more fucked up things get/the more I love you."

Purchase Free Will. (It's beautiful. You won't regret it.)

AND. Constantines are doing some reunion shows! Sadly, they're all in Canada.

August 3 – Sackville, NB – SappyFest
August 22 – Peterborough, ON – Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (Peterborough Folk Festival)
August 23 – Ottawa, ON – Waller Park (Arboretum Festival)
August 29 – Toronto, ON – The Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (w/ Arcade Fire)
October 2 – Toronto, ON – The Danforth Music Hall
October 4 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
October 8 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
October 9 – Calgary, AB – Commonwealth Bar & Stage
October 11 – Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room (UPDT Festival)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Scamu Scau! Meet Meenk.

Christ, it's been a while. Breaking this lengthy hiatus, first, to say how happy I am that we live in a period where it's cool for women to be musicians again (it was cool twenty years ago, and then the Lilith Fair sort of scared women out of it, I think, because no one wanted to be pinned as the next Tracy Bonham or whatever, but now it's okay again because everyone's forgotten what was cheesy about the '90s). And I'm pleased that girls are increasingly unafraid to pick up guitars. I don't usually rant about gender because music is music, but at one point, it was difficult to name three female guitarists, and now, there are tons of female rock musicians, and boys are finally finding it acceptable to enjoy them. The shitty times we've lived in, ladies.

On that note, I've already gushed about a good lot of the Exploding in Sound roster -- Speedy Ortiz, Ovlov, Palehound, Geronimo! (and so forth, and so forth). And said roster leads us quite smoothly to Meenk, a project by May Rio, whose current guitarist is Ben Scherer of Palehound. Rio sounds impossibly young but is already a graduate of RISD, and one with a sweet, sweet Jughead-inspired menswear portfolio at that; her voice is halfway between the relaxed slur of Lana Del Rey and the sweetness of, well, a child -- did I mention that she sounds impossibly young? -- and she's no doubt inspired to the nines by Pavement, so much so that it'd be all too easy to lump her into a club with Sadie Dupuis and Ellen Kempner, respectively of Speedy Ortiz and Palehound.

The music of Meenk is simple, witty, and feminine. May Rio is Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy, and she's the singer-songwriter at the coffee shop that the creepy single dad is lusting after while he and his kid play backgammon at the table by the stage, and she's the girl who doesn't have a ton of friends because she'd rather be drawing than chatting about gel manicures. I like her.

Go listen to Scamu Scau!