Fun Fun Fun Fest Not to be overshadowed by SXSW, Austin's well-oiled Fun Fun Fun Fest is brilliantly curated but manageable, catering to what festivalgoers—old farts and young bucks alike—want to hear, not to some hip agenda that tries to dictate what they should hear. In the two years I've gone, I've caught Slayer, Araabmuzik, the Damned, Hot Snakes, David Cross, Public Enemy, Napalm Death, Sharon Van Etten, Turbonegro, Big Freedia, the Heartless Bastards, and Kid Dynamite. Bored with bands? Check out the hokey amateur wrestling or the shredding on the festival's gnarly skate and BMX ramps. And I haven't even touched on Austin's fried avocado tacos. . . .
Das Oath's 11-inch self-titled LP You'd be surprised what a pain in the ass it is to drop a needle on (or pick up) a piece of vinyl whose edge sits just inside the lip of a turntable. Powerviolence/thrashcore aficionado Mark McCoy (Charles Bronson, Holy Molar) has been in the scene long enough to see his share of nonsensically shaped vinyl—and release some via his Youth Attack! label—so it makes perfect sense that Das Oath, the best of the roughly 800 bands he sang in, would've put out an 11-inch in 2006. Nothing like watching this sucker spin up to 45 RPM and jamming out for its ten minutes of blastbeats.
Overhearing iPods on the el If there's one advantage to being forced onto a cramped train by increasingly frigid weather, it's eavesdropping on whatever's blaring out of commuters' earbuds. Crisply suited businessmen inconspicuously headbanging to heavy metal, hip-hop kids rapping over Odd Future, SAIC students listening to whatever's goth and dark and en vogue—plus riff-raff like me leaning back and taking pleasure in the microcosmic music fest.
Ron Elliott, The Candlestickmaker Over the past few years I've cultivated a love affair with late-60s LA soft-psych/studio rock. Gene Clark solo was the gateway, leading me to the lone 1970 solo record by Beau Brummels guitarist and singer Ron Elliott, which I am digging hard. It's folk-country at its core, but the lush strings and laid-back psych flourishes have bewitched me. I guess as I've gotten older, the emotion behind certain songs gets me first, but there needs to be more substance (unique arrangements, instrumentation, lyrics) to keep me coming back. This record has all that in spades. Interesting predicament for someone weaned on the blind fury of punk rock, but fuck it. Needs reissuing ASAP!
Finally figuring out how to run an independent label After three years of running Trouble in Mind with Lisa, I finally feel like we know what we're doing over here. Nothing seems weird or alien or confusing anymore, and I'm comfortable and excited for everything we have planned. It's a strange feeling. Buy our records!
Listening to music with my kids Lisa and I have two kids—our daughter, Ronnie, is three and a half and our son, Arthur, is six months. Having children has made me reexamine our music collection; I'm used to throwing on a record according to my mood, but more and more I find myself catering to what I think Ronnie might like (it was a glorious day when she said she liked the Mummies). It's also fun to let her pick out a record and see what happens. She usually likes it, but if she doesn't, she'll tell me. I'm sure this will all be moot when she gets obsessed with whatever the equivalent of Justin Bieber is when she's old enough, but I'm optimistic some of it will stick. Very curious to see what Arthur will like. . . .
Floor, Below & Beyond box set (Robotic Empire, 2009) To call Floor's Below & Beyond excessive and extravagant is a bit of an understatement. This limited-edition collection (305 copies) comprises ten colored-vinyl 12-inch LPs, one seven-inch EP, eight CDs, and a 32-page booklet of writings, photos, lyrics, and artwork—all housed in separate jackets within a custom cloth-bound box. Do you really need to own every recorded utterance of this south Florida drop-Z-tuned metal band? The answer is yes. Floor front man Steve Brooks soldiers on with doom-pop giants Torche.
Witch, We Intend to Cause Havoc! box set (Now-Again, 2012) Witch, a band equally informed by James Brown groove and Jimi Hendrix scorch, released five LPs during the copper-rush era in Zambia (1972-'77). They're now rare as hen's teeth, even by collector-doofus standards, but Now-Again has thankfully rereleased all five in this box set (along with a sixth that compiles several singles). Do you really need to own every recorded utterance of these Zambian psych-rock legends? Once again, the answer is indubitably yes.
Can, The Lost Tapes (Mute, 2012) This treasure trove of previously unissued jams by the quintessential Krautrock combo was released a few months back on that useless format, CD. Needless to say I didn't bother purchasing it. Mute made the right decision, however, by releasing it again, this time on vinyl. I'm looking forward to blasting "Millionenspiel," "Waiting for the Streetcar," and "Deadly Doris" via the king's format. Do you really need this five-LP set of "lost" Can material, recently discovered in studio storage? You should definitely hear most of it; some cuts you'll probably never check out twice. Out December 3.