Sorry, Juggalos: According to a federal judge, the cops can still classify you as a gang.
The Associated Press released a story today confirming that Detroit federal Judge Robert Cleland tossed Insane Clown Posse‘s lawsuit against the FBI in which they sought to nullify a 2011 report listing ICP fans as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” According to the AP, Judge Cleland deemed that the report can’t be retracted because “the government isn’t responsible for acts by local police agencies that use the 2011 report.” Which presumably means that ICP’s only move now would be to literally sue every state and local police department in the country that has any history of targeting Juggalos. Which is probably, unfortunately, most of them.
In response to the judge’s decision, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope issued the following statement via their Facebook page:
Juggalos, our legal team and our partners at the ACLU of Michigan are appealing this completely wack decision to dismiss our case. THIS IS NOT OVER! AT ALL! Rest assured that we’re still fighting for YOU and our entire Juggalo family. Read this press release from the ACLU and you’ll see that we still have a very strong case … and we ain’t stoppin’ SHIT! STAY STRONG, FAMILY! We ain’t goin’ down! WHOOP WHOOP!
The ACLU press release they reference is way less fun to quote, but says, in effect, that they’ll appeal the judge’s dismissal of the case.
As we’ve said before and will say again: Regardless of your personal feelings about Juggalos, this is clearly an important case for civil liberties and First Amendment rights. By claiming that the criminal actions of a few Juggalos make the entire fan base guilty by association, the FBI opened the door for any law enforcement agency to arbitrarily classify any social group as a criminal gang based on the actions of just a few of its members. It’s not a great leap to imagine that if this case goes unresolved, some dipshit state or local police department could cite it as precedent for targeting ravers next. Or metalheads. Or freakin’ Bronies. It’s just a slippery slope into Crazytown to assume that a tattoo of your favorite band’s logo is the equivalent of, say, an Aryan Brotherhood swastika.
So stay strong, Juggalos! Justice is on your side.
Apparently this Jeff Richards fellow was once in the cast of Saturday Night Live, but I gotta be honest: I have zero recollection of him on that show. Either he was seriously under-utilized or he got funnier, because there’s no forgetting him in this new video from his dance-pop comedy album, The Shingles 2009-2014.
It’s been over two years since ex-Books multi-instrumentalist Nick Zammuto released the eponymous debut album from his new band, Zammuto. For those of you who, like us, have been eagerly waiting for a follow-up, we now have a date to look forward to: Sept. 2nd. That’s when Zammuto will drop Anchor, their sophomore effort. (Also, get used to hearing that “drop Anchor” pun, because I guarantee you every blog from here to My Old Kentucky won’t be able to resist it.)
To celebrate Anchor‘s droppage, Zammuto will embark on a 21-city North American tour, starting Aug. 28th. Tracklist and tour dates are below, right after this here little embed featuring the groovy, melodic “Need Some Sun,” one of three Anchor tracks currently available on Zammuto’s SoundCloud page. (The others are “Great Equator” and “Sinker.”)
o1 Good Graces
02 Great Equator
04 Henry Lee (Trad.)
o5 Need Some Sun
06 Don’t Be a Tool
07 Electric Ant
09 Stop Counting
11 Your Time
Zammuto North American tour dates:
8/28 New Haven, CT The Outer Space
8/29 Burlington, VT Signal Kitchen
8/30 Portland, ME SPACE Gallery
9/6 Montreal, QC Il Motore
9/7 Toronto, ON The Garrison
9/9 Chicago, IL Schubas
9/10 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock
9/11 Omaha, NE Waiting Room
9/12 Denver, CO Lost Lake
9/13 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court
9/15 Seattle, WA Barboza
9/16 Vancouver, BC Media Club
9/17 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
9/19 Santa Cruz, CA Crepe Place
9/20 San Francisco, CA Brick & Mortar
9/21 Los Angeles, CA The Satellite
9/23 San Diego, CA Casbah
9/24 Phoenix, AZ Last Exit
9/25 Tucson, AZ Flycatcher
9/27 Austin, TX Holy Mountain
9/28 Dallas, TX Index Fest
Most bands, after 34 albums, probably wouldn’t have many new tricks up their sleeves. But the Tiger Lillies manage to keep breaking new ground. Their 35th album, A Dream Turns Sour, is their first album based on real-life events, and their first for which Martyn Jacques did not write his own lyrics. Instead, all 15 of A Dream Turns Sour‘s songs are musical adaptations of World War I poetry, all written by British, American and Canadian poets who died on the battlefield. As such, it’s one of the darkest things the Tiger Lillies have ever recorded—which, given Jacques’ long fascination with death and cruelty, is saying something.
The album picks a logical starting point with Scottish infantry Captain Charles Hamilton Sorley’s poem titled simply “Death,” which mordantly addresses the grim reaper directly: “Saints have adored the lofty soul of you/Poets have whitened at your high renown.” Jacques and his bandmates—bassist Adrian Stout, drummer Mike Pickering and guest bouzouki/banjo player Paul-Ronnie Angel—deliver Sorley’s dark paean in typical Tiger Lillies fashion, with lots of sprightly accordion and upright bass and Jacques’ trademark falsetto, suggesting that despite its grim subject matter, A Dream Turns Sour might be another entry in the Lillies’ long catalog of albums that give the bleakest source material a humorous twist.
But “Death,” it turns out, is a bit of a red herring. Most of A Dream Turns Sour hews closer to the hushed, mournful tones of its treatment of a second Sorley poem, “The Mouthless Dead.” Here, Jacques drops his falsetto to intone Sorley’s fatalistic verses over solemn piano and bowed bass: “Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat/Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean.” It’s powerful stuff, and signals that most of A Dream Turns Sour will adopt a tone more in keeping with All Quiet on the Western Front than Blackadder Goes Forth.
The bulk of A Dream Turns Sour is devoted to less famous poets of the Great War; since Jacques decided to limit his source material to writers who did not survive the trenches, there’s no room here for Siegfried Sassoon or Robert Graves. He also steers clear of more sentimental poets like Rupert Brooke, whose “The Soldier” was one of the most popular war poems of its time thanks to lofty and oft-quoted lines like, “If I should die, think only this of me/That there’s some corner of a foreign field/That is for ever England.” The closest A Dream Turns Sour comes to such romanticized notions of war and death is Canadian poet John McRae’s famous “Flanders Field”—though even over an accordion-led waltz that conjures images of cozy French wine bars, Jacques’ high-pitched rasp finds a hint of menace in the poem’s familiar verses, which are spoken by the dead: “If ye break faith with us who die/We shall not sleep.”
Among the many near-forgotten gems of World War I poetry unearthed elsewhere on A Dream Turns Sour: Noel Hodgson’s “Before Action,” a hollow prayer for an honorable death (“Help me to die, O Lord”), here renamed “Help Me” and recast as a stately hymn for acoustic guitar and muted yet martial drums; Leslie Coulson’s florid but heartbreaking “One Little Hour,” delivered by Jacques with utmost restraint, over just a simple piano figure; Arthur Graeme West’s shockingly nihilistic “God, How I Hate You,” which gives Jacques a rare opportunity to ham it up a bit, ranting, “I hate you! And you! And especially you!” over the bitter wheeze of his accordion; and Isaac Rosenberg’s stunningly bleak, gruesome “Dead Man’s Dump,” which Jacques intones simply, accompanied by the ghostly tones of Stout’s musical saw: “The wheels lurched over the sprawled dead/But pained them not, though their bones crunched.”
For the most part, Jacques and his bandmates approach their source material with a degree of reverence unusual for them. The only time they really seem to be winking a bit is on their sprightly rendition of American poet Alan Seeger’s “Rendezvous With Death,” an admittedly overwrought bit of Yankee death-wish bravado that was apparently a favorite of John F. Kennedy’s. It’s the one time on the album that Jacques shuffles the order of the original verses and even inserts a few of his own, throwing in an added bit of doggerel (“So come on, Death, and take my hand/And lead me to your darkened land/And close my eyes and steal my breath”) that leads him to a fit of hammy hyperventilating. Depending on your point of view, it’s either a much-needed moment of levity, or the album’s only real false note.
A Dream Turns Sour saves its greatest source for last: the justly revered English poet, Wilfred Owen, whose verses adorn the album’s final four tracks. It’s thrilling to hear the Tiger Lillies breathe new life into the familiar yet still devastating verses of Owen’s most famous work, “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” which they unexpectedly turn into a pretty piano meditation. But it’s even more exciting to hear them revive lesser-known masterpieces like “Mud” (which begins with the arresting lines, “I, too, saw God through mud/The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled”) and “Three Parts,” movingly told from the viewpoint of a crippled veteran in a hospital bed (“I’m blind, and three parts shell…Both arms have mutinied against me—brutes”). Though there are many moments of fine poetry throughout A Dream Turns Sour, the arrival of Owen’s verses pretty much blows away everything that’s come before it.
Taken altogether, A Dream Turns Sour may not be the Tiger Lillies’ most entertaining album. Its subject matter is too relentlessly grim; its arrangements, for the most part, too restrained. But if you trust Martyn Jacques and his bandmates to take you on a journey into one of the darkest chapters of history, A Dream Turns Sour is a moving and occasionally shocking portrayal of the effects war has on men’s bodies and souls. It’s certainly a much better introduction to World War I poetry than some dry literature class. And on the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (literally—the album was released on June 28th, one hundred years to the day after the assassination), it’s a grim reminder of just how brutal and horrific those wars in our history books really were.
A Dream Turns Sour is available now from the Tiger Lillies’ online store.
I know it’s the Fourth of July and we should probably be featuring Ted Nugent or something instead of some random Canadian band. But we got turned onto this track from Montreal duo AroarA earlier this week and we can’t stop playing it. Plus it’s based a book by American poet Alice Notley, and poetry is nearly as American as burgers, hot dogs and blowing shit up. So put your Independence Day festivities on hold for five minutes and crank this shit up.
Amazing, right? If I may continue stuffing way too many Fourth of July references into this post, it’s like someone grilled up some American dustbowl folk music, shoved it into a bun of Canadian indie pop and topped it with a squirt of African desert blues. Or as Leslie Feist, who sometimes jams with them, puts it, far more succinctly, they play “ghost science faux-folk.”
AroarA is the work of Andrew Whiteman, best-known for his work with Broken Social Scene, and Ariel Engle, formerly part of Montreal orchestral pop collective Land of Kush. This track is from their debut album, In the Pines, which as we mentioned earlier takes its name from the Alice Notley book of the same name. It’s already been nominated for the Polaris Prize, which is sort of Canada’s version of the Mercury Prize. It’s available in a vinyl+digital package from the duo’s website.
OK, you may resume stuffing your face with barbecue and/or watching the World Cup. Happy July 4th, y’all!
No band on the Weird List makes us happier than the Polyphonic Spree. They’re basically Zoloft in band form. So today we have two pieces of happy news to relate: 1.) The Spree are doing a massive summer tour; and 2.) They’re releasing a remix album on Aug. 12th. Called Psychphonic, it’ll feature remixes of every track from the Spree’s latest album, Yes It’s True, done by a bunch of remixers we’ve never heard of but who all have awesome raver names: Miyamigo, Sunglitters, Candy Claws. Keep it PLUR, kids!
You can hear a track from Psychphonic exclusively on Paste.com, and check out the full tracklist and tour dates after this little tour teaser video.
1) Heart Talk (Miyamigo)
2) Raise Your Head (Rachel Boyd)
3) Carefully Try (Little People)
4) Battlefield (K-Conjoy)
5) You’re Golden (Candy Claws)
6) Let Them Be (sTILL cURRENT)
7) Popular By Design (Sunglitters)
8) What Would You Do (Malachai UK’s Scott Hendy)
9) Hold Yourself Up (Miaou)
10) Blurry Up The Lines (DJ Jel)
11) You Don’t Know Me (Set In Sand)
Polyphonic Spree summer 2014 tour:
Wednesday, July 9th - Houston, TX – Fitzgerald’s
Thursday, July 10th-New Orleans, LA – Southport Music Hall
Friday, July 11th-Austin, TX – Central Presbyterian Church
Saturday, July 12th-Dallas, TX – Club Dada
Tuesday, July 15th-Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg HiFi
Wednesday, July 16th-San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Thursday, July 17th-San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew
Friday, July 18th-Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
Saturday, July 19th-Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst Atrium
Sunday, July 20th-North Lake Tahoe, CA – Wanderlust Festival
Monday, July 21st-Seattle, WA – Triple Door
Wednesday, July 23rd-Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
Friday, July 25th-Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue
Saturday, July 26th-Denver, CO – Soiled Dove Underground
Friday, August 15th-Oklahoma City, OK – ACM Performance Lab
Saturday, August 16th-St Louis, MO – The Duck Room at Blueberry Hill
Sunday, August 17th-Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom
Monday, August 18th-Minneapolis, MN – The Cedar Cultural Center
Tuesday, August 19th-Evanston, IL – SPACE
Thursday, August 21st-Cincinnati, OH – Taft Theatre
Friday, August 22nd-Ferndale, MI – The Magic Bag
Saturday, August 23rd-Cleveland, OH – Music Box Supper Club
Monday, August 25th-Boston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
Tuesday, August 26th-Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
Wednesday, August 27th-Philadelphia, PA – Prince Music Theatre
Thursday, August 28th-Washington, DC – Black Cat
Friday, August 29th-Carrboro, NC – The Arts Center
Saturday, August 30th-Atlanta, GA – The Loft at Center Stage
I’m still spending way too much of my time at the bottom of the breakcore rabbit hole these days, but man is there some crazy shit down there. Here’s my latest find: Munter S. Thomson, the breakcore/”cockrockdisco” (his term) alter ego of an Australian producer who normally goes by the name of Nam Shub of Enki.
Mr. Shub himself seems to not be a big fan of Munter’s output: The notes for the Munter S. Thomson album Waste read: “Wasted a year on this. Here are the fruits of thinking this music was a good idea—it quite frankly wasn’t.” We beg to differ. Waste sounds like ’80s electro-funk and booty bass run through a paper shredder and then tossed like confetti and leaky glowsticks over a party for meth-addled robots. And if that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, you’ve come to the wrong blog.
You can hear the rest of Waste in all its trashy glory on Bandcamp.
So we had bad news and good news this week regarding our first-ever Weird Band Night. You know, the one happening Friday, July 11th at the California Institute of Abnormalarts here in Los Angeles, that you’re totally gonna be at? Oh, you live in different time zone? Excuses, excuses! If you’re not there, you’re dead to us.
Wait, what were we talking about? Oh right, bad news and good news. So the bad news is that one of our headliners, Haunted Garage, had to bow out due to, uh, personnel issues. Or more specifically, bass player issues. In fact, if you happen to see Haunted Garage’s ex-bass player in line at Starbuck’s, and you happen to have a sudden uncontrollable urge to, oh I don’t know, pull his pants down, point at his junk and laugh laugh LAUGH hysterically…well, who are we to tell you what you can and can’t do at Starbuck’s? It’s a free country.
So that’s the bad news. Pretty bad, right? For a minute there, we were sure Weird Band Night was dead in the water. Now for the good news: We have ALREADY found an awesome replacement for Haunted Garage in the form of groovy ghoul rockers The Rhythm Coffin. Imagine The Misfits meets The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets a zombie Ramones cover band and you can see why the reanimated corpse of Weird Band Night is going to be even more fun than its mostly animated original incarnation.
Here’s just one of The Rhythm Coffin’s many dance crazes that are sweeping the underworld.
And here’s a song they do about coffee, which is basically just “Coffin” with two different letters. I just blew your mind, didn’t I? But if you think that’s crazy, get a load of this video. Who knew the undead drank coffee? Finally, something to look forward to in the afterlife. I thought it was all just clouds and harps and shit.
So thanks for rescuing Weird Band Night, The Rhythm Coffin! See you on July 11th.