Saturday, July 28, 2007

T-HUD's CD to T-HUD: Thud!

I'm not being mean-spirited about this, but man, you might want to reconsider looking for a buyout to pursue a rap career when you only sell 78 CDs in the first week of your album's release.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More from the blues ...

In the wake of my column on Otis Rush's Classic Cobra Recordings on Reveille, I got into it a little bit with singer/songwriter/baller extraordinaire Stook about blues guitarists at the Nomad. See, apparently Stook and I have some differences of opinion. I love Spoon. Stook not so much. I love Otis Rush. Stook loves Albert Collins. I love Collins, too, but for pretty much every guy I talked about, he had a counter-proposal.

So eventually we got around to discussing a ridiculous topic, namely, who's the greatest blues guitarist of all time. Yeah, I know. But, I made my statement with the proviso that I'm making my pick for myself, and no one else. See, I used to play a lot of blues guitar—it's pretty much all I did in high school and college—and to a large extent, I feel like I can't say Albert King or B.B. King or basically any black blues guitarist could really be my personal pick because I could never have done what they did. We can fight about it all day, but being a white blues guitarist is being a white blues guitarist, and so while I might have looked to all the greats (Muddy Waters in particular) for inspiration, for a role model, I looked to one man: Peter Green.

If you haven't checked out his work with the original Fleetwood Mac, I suggest you get on that shit. It's incredible: better than, in my opinion, Clapton's work with the Bluesbreakers or Mick Taylor with the Stones or Stevie Ray Vaughan or pretty much any white guy playing blues.

What kills about him is his taste: the man almost never took more than one chorus for a solo in a slow blues, and every note he played was delicious. Here's a video from YouTube as proof. And yes, they're lip synching and no one really knew what to do with themselves in videos in 1969, but the song's great:

Stook, for his part, was all about Roy Buchanan. So here's a vid of Roy. You can make your own decision. Or not. I mean, this isn't a contest.

On a different note, Oliver Sacks has a great piece in this week's New Yorker that begins by talking about a man who was struck by lightning and suddenly developed an intense and overriding passion for music, first picking up the piano (you know what I mean) again, then starting to write his own music where before he had never had any real musical inclination. Sacks goes on to discuss more about this strange neurological phenomenon where people can suddenly become intensely passionate after traumatic brain injuries or surgeries.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Reveille is GO!

All right, the thing that's been keeping from posting much of anything here on Signal Eats Noise is finally up and ready to go at We've already got a bunch of content, including a couple CD reviews by me you may have already seen here, plus a brand new column by me called Warp + Weft that will be going up every Wednesday from now 'til infinity in which I'll take an in-depth look at one album. This week it's At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command. Next week: Otis Rush's Complete Cobra Recordings.

I'll still be posting here on SEN, although I suspect the tone and content of the postings will shift somewhat, probably towards a more catholic selection of topics.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brush your goddamn teeth

Saturday, July 7, 2007

All seven and we'll stand in line to see Prince

You want to see Prince at First Ave tonight? Get in line. On second thought, maybe you're better off staying home. Kyle Mattson from More Cowbell is in line right now, at 10 a.m., and he estimates himself to be halfway down the line, somewhere in the middle of 8th St. between 1st Ave and Hennepin. And he got there at 7:15 a.m. Matt Perkins, who books the Nomad and is a solid guy, apparently got there at 3 a.m. and he's halfway down the Hennepin side of First Ave. He's getting a ticket, but just one, because that's all anybody's getting.

Kyle's reporting that someone just came by with a cart of french toast and water for sale, and he's passing the time chatting (presumably both with real life people and on the internet), browsing the intertubes, and reading mags and newspapers.

Tickets go on sale at 3 p.m.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Robert Skoro: Musician, Bartender

This interview is the continuation of a piece that begins on The Bottle Gang. That part of the article concerns local musician Robert Skoro's dayjob (nightjob?) as a bartender at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis. To check that out, head right here.

Signal Eats Noise: Let's talk a little bit about music: What are you working on right now?

Robert Skoro: I gotta finish my record. I totally put it on the backburner because I decided to go to school [for Anthropology]. So I have 70% of a record that is about 90% tracked. The great thing is that it's a project where I started recording stuff for it in winter of 2006 and have kind of been all over the country working on it with different people. Did a lot in Austin during and around South by Southwest last year and then continued working on it last summer at the house that I now live in. So it's kind of fortuitous that I get to continue, after taking this long break, to work on the record in the same environment that I did a lot of production in over the last year. That was really fun. The control room is upstairs and then running a 250 foot cable snake down to the main floor and going to town down there. But now that we're living there, I can get even a little bit crazier and start running stuff into the basement and there's an external structure that has a sauna in it, so we can use that for isolation.

SEN: So is it a pretty old house?

RS: 1880s. It's got character. In terms of a home recording situation, it's pretty damn good because the rooms aren't that big. It'll be interesting to hear what it sounds like when I start doing drums again in it, because the interior of it has changed a lot. There's some bookcases and stuff that are gone, so it'll sound different in some ways, but I thinkfundamentally it's a lot the same because it's still the same shape. I'm really lucky. It's kind of sick how great it is to record in because there are a lot of options. There are just so many different sounding rooms in that house and it's a really small house so it's just one microphone cable to the next room.

SEN: So is it safe to say this is going to be fairly different from your last record, That These Things COuld Be Ours, which was done sort of all in one shot and live?

RS: Whereas the last record was very documentary in spirit, like almost entirely tracked live, this is more of—because of the travel involved—a field recording. There are things on there that will make engineers cringe. I mean, there's a lot of ground buzz, which I'm cleaning up to some degree, but at the same time, it's great to have these recordings and hear the place that they were recorded. There actually might just be a few minutes of birds on it from some of the recording that I did in Austin. Just hanging out in a house and turning the gain all the way up. Some kind of stuff like that. It is going to be really different from the last record.

SEN: I like that approach. That's always been something that I've wanted to do more of and never really have had the freedom or time and space to try that kind of stuff. Everything I've ever done has had to be in a studio and here we go. But then I listen to Grizzly Bear's last album, and you can hear where they recorded it so much. You can hear stuff outside, you can hear ice clinking in glasses and all that stuff. you get a sense of place.

RS: I think that if you're, as a musician or an engineer or a producer, you're going to take advantage of the digital domain and the fact that you don't have to set foot in a studio anymore to track a record. You should really run with that. Give people as much detail about what's going on as you can.

SEN: It makes a lot of sense to, whichever way you go, embrace that route. If you're gonna be in the studio, make a studio record. If you're going to be taking different snippets from different places and recording people in different situations, embrace that and go towards that. If you try and go half and half, you end up nowhere.

RS: And that's what the last record was about. Like, OK, we're going to be in the studio? So we have no shortage of mics and cables and actually, I think we used every cable in the studio when we recorded that in Chicago. It was a lot of cables; we dug in for two weeks. It was really fun.

SEN: There's definitely something to be said for sequestering yourself away in a studio and working on something.

RS: That first record, the stuff I did with Ed Ackerson, I literally walked in with a notebook and was like, "OK, we're going to record this, this, these drums in this section like this, and then we're gonna record this guitar in this section like this." Just going through and doing it. And that was the kind of things where the stuff on my first record is one day per song. Record and mix. He had a lot of good habits for that mode of working that would just get things rolling super-quick.

SEN: So you've sort of done a different approach for every album so far.

RS: Yeah, I don't know. Maybe that's totally self-indulgent, but that's the name of the game for me. If I'm gonna go to the trouble of writing the songs and taking care of all the logistics, until I find a process that trumps everything else, I don't find it necessary to have a really consistent sound from album to album. There are definitely bands—like Spoon—that benefit greatly from consistency. Their records change, but the sound of the band doesn't change all that much. But that's the fun part for me: the experience of going in a completely different direction every time. To create a body of work like that.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Pitchfork taking the piss out of Tapes 'n' Tapes?

Picking apart Josh Grier's blog

You be the judge. Is nothing sacred? I guess this is the price of fame. I pulled these sentences out of a hat.

Pardon my absence ...

I've been busy with a couple things lately, including getting stuff ready for the July 16 launch of Reveille, but I plan to have some new and at least somewhat non-traditional content up here, as well as the return of the Signal Eats Noise media taster, which has been on vacation.

In the meantime, you can look at my unspeakably cute dog, who's now going to be world famous as the Daily Puppy for July 2, 2007. Someday I'll have kids, and maybe I'll be proud then, but this is pretty great until then.