Archive: Sep 2006

  1. Easing the weary voices

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    Nick JainaNick Jaina7 Stations.
    The robots get a lot of e-mail from folks who read a post and want us to hear their music because it sounds like what we posted. But often it does in fact sound EXACTLY like what we just posted. (don’t get me wrong keep ‘em coming). Then once in a while someone actually comes through with something that does have a familiar touchstone but also has it’s own distintive quality.
    Sure Nick Jaina‘s music might sound like Tom Waits, but then so does Leonard Cohen (or is it the other way around?). I guess if “sounds like” means “has interesting lyrics, creative instrumentation and evocative arrangment” then he does sound like those guys.
    I picked the title track off 7 Stations (his third solo album) because of what else it makes me think of. When you first heard Radiohead’s Amnesiac, and got to the end–Life as a Glass House, didn’t you think “Oh man, Radiohead doesn’t even need beeps and clicks or whatever, they can take a New Orleans Jazz combo and still get all freaky. They should do a whole album of this.”? Well I did. And I’m not saying the 7 Stations is that album, but it would be in that same vein. And it’s all really good. Not that it’s news or anything, but there’s clearly some cool shit going on in Portland and a lot of it is on this record.
    You can pick up the album at CD baby. He’s also got more tracks you can check out on his myspace page.
    And n the “robots roam in a small world dept.” a girl that Mark and I went to high school with choreographed a dance for Nick’s cd release party–something I only discoved after hearing Nick’s music and deciding to post it. How crazy is that?

  2. Don’t let it get you down

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    unknown prophets

    I only realized recently that, for the most part, I’ve been ignoring the Twin Cities hip-hop scene. Lame, I know, and I’m not sure how that happened. We’ve got some great hip-hop here, from Atmosphere, POS and the Doomtree guys to countless others.
    For no particular reason, I thougt I’d start by concentrating on Unknown Prophets. The group consists of Madson, Robots alumnus Big Jess, and DJ Willy Lose (voted best DJ of 2006 by City Pages). The UPs err on the side of old-school, which usually works greatly in their favor. I saw them at the Pizza Luce Block Party this year (Lyn-Lake, what!?), and I can tell you that these guys know how to put on a show.
    Unknown Prophets - Let It Loose.
    I think this track is interesting, because it’s got a real dance-pop feel to it, and a melody catchy enough to get stuck in your head. Come to think of it, Unknown Prophets are almost more like a pop band (not meant as an insult, guys, I promise) – a lot of their songs have a pop structure, with refrains and melodies, albeit with beats and able rapping. (A fine example is their track “Summer Heat”, which the UPs offer as a free download on their site. They get bonus points on that track, by the way, for sampling local meteorologists Ken Barlow and Paul Douglas. Stayin’ true to the weatherman crew!)
    You can order the self-released The Road Less Traveled from the Unknown Prophets themselves. If you live in the Twin Cities area, you can find the disc in most area record stores, including Cheapo and Electric Fetus.

  3. CSS @ Webster Hall, 9/28

    Moblogged by MFR

    Oh. My. God. CSS just finished up their set, and while I’m not sure it was as bonkers as last night’s show, holy crap kids. Every song was dripping with raw, fresh energy that soooo many NYC shows sorely lack, and Lovefoxxx and company gave us proof in spades that being a rock star is supposed to be fun above all else. I mean, they killed evey song in their setlist, but the whole thing was such a great time that the band and audience alike were shocked when they realized it was time to go. During the performance itself, Lovefoxxx was such a refreshing break from what I’m used to seeing at Webster – she crowd surfed, she sang several songs in the audience, danced with us, told us stories (“I got so drunk last night I broke my teeth, so I had to go to the dentist today and I have fake teeth now!”), and brought everyone within reach of the mic cord into the show. I haven’t had this much fun at a NYC rock show in ages. On a personal note, it’s so awesome to see how far CSS have come, from years ago when Lovefoxxx was an MFR penpal (we miss hearing from you since you’ve been on tour!) to their early-demo MFR/MP3 blog debut, to their South American CD release, to present day Sub Pop signee world touring rock stars! These kids deserve every shred of the pile of success and buzz they’ve amassed, and we couldn’t be happier for ‘em.

    Oh yeah, and something about Ladytron was supposed to happen tonight, but whatever.

    At any rate, check back with MFR in the next week or so for a Lovefoxxx/MFR-themed surprise… That’s all for now, live from the MFR futurephone!

  4. Mommy says it’s time for a spanking


    I’m so glad that the Asylum Street Spankers have finally got some sort of online video presence. They’re one of the few bands that I make a point of seeing live every chance I get. Their albums are brilliant but a strong part of their appeal as performers are the visual and theatrical elements of their live shows which just can’t be conveyed with audio only. This video for their single, “Stick Magnetic Ribbons on your SUV” (which you can buy an mp3 of for $1) isn’t exactly like their live shows, but it does show just how far they’re willing to go to entertain.

    Their site is filled with other goodies too, including quicktime downloads of videos from their live DVDs (both of which I highly recommend: Hick Hop (the seemless blending of country western murder ballads and gangsta rap), The Minor Waltz (featuring some great musical saw playing), Whatever, and Blade of Grass.

    There’s also a sampler (in quicktime for some reason) of their newest album, “Mommy Says No!”, a children’s album (!), which currently is only available for sale on the Spankers’ website and features both a song about boogers and a Nirvana cover. Coming from a band who turned Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” into a bluegrass song about bestiality (complete with animal sound effects), the very idea of a children’s album from them should probably fill parents’ hearts with fear, but I assure you it’s completely safe for the little ones and far less likely to make you contemplate mass murder and suicide than most children’s records (maybe that’s just my reaction).

  5. Come Home

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    Everything Absent or DistortedEverything Absent or DistortedStill Life With Machine Gun.
    Things have been really busy lately. Normally, as fall approaches, you kind of expect things to slow down. The weather is supposed to cool off and everyone prepares to shutter up for the winter. Spring is the busy time, right? Not that fall. The only thing I should be busy doing is gathering nuts, like a good little ant. Clearly, that’s not the case. At times like this it’s nice to have something good to listen to. Thankfully, we have Everything Absent Or Distorted — who holds the distinction of being the only band from Denver, Colorado posted to Robots. So there.
    See, back in the 1990s, there was a surplus of band geeks who wanted to be in real bands. This gave birth to Ska and Swing. Since the coolest “rock” instrument you can handle in high school band is pretty much the drums (or cowbell), and things like guitar and bass are saved for “jazz band,” you have this clutch of horn players with nowhere to go. But now that Ska is dead – or at least the poppy, late ’90s variety is – what are the horn players to do? Where are the seven-strong bands chock full of quirks?
    Well, in Denver they’re packing into Everything Absent or Distorted. With seven full-time members – none of whom stick to one role for any given song – they have their share of horn players, percussionists, singers, crooners, guitar slingers and the lot. It’s a fantastic band, and I love their new record: The Soft Civil War. It ranges from bombastic pop like this, to full on punk rattles. Even though it’s only got seven songs on it, it covers a lot of ground. They seem to really know what they’re doing.
    You can pick up their new album from the friendly folks at twist and shout. Highly Recommended.

  6. Closer and closer to moving further away


    meg ashling

    When Meg Ashling appeared on stage at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis- after the performance I came to see a couple weeks ago, The Tin Star Sisters’ second-to-last show ever (you’ll be missed!) – I was surprised. She was, well, tall. And on the relatively small 331 stage, she seemed somehow larger than life in many ways, especially when she opened her mouth to sing.
    Meg Ashling - Go On.
    Ashling is also a singer and guitarist for Minneapolis band The Gilded Age.
    I guess the obvious comparison here is Billie Holiday. She’s no doppelganger or anything, but you can certainly hear traces of Holiday’s warble. And while there are certainly other people who sound like Billie Holiday (Madeleine Peyroux comes to mind), it’s interesting hearing that vocal style used with folk and country songs. She and Jolie Holland should do a duet sometime.
    And did I mention she does a great cover of “Cracklin’ Rosie?”
    Meg Ashling has no music for sale at the moment, but keep checking her MySpace page for updates.

  7. Wicked rodents


    killer squirrels!
    Padded CellUnknown Zone
    I’ve been a fan of London’s DC Recordings for quite a while now. See I found out about them in the late 90s when I started getting into Depth Charge, one of the many the production aliases of DC Recordings’ label head, J. Saul Kane. To those of you for whom this is your first introduction to the magic that is DC Recordings, it may come across like a weirder, more-British DFA Recordings. Just know that DC has been doing it longer, and almost certainly with a stronger leaning towards the bizarre, dark side of things.
    This song by Padded Cell is a pretty solid representation of the DC sound. Wily bassline, disco hand claps, huge echo-chamber guitars, and it takes its sweet time to develop – its just about five and a half minutes long, but feels like every piece of the song is in its right place. It grooves and chugs along like a monster in a horror movie disco soundtrack.
    Padded Cell is Richard Sen and Neil Beatnik, respectively a Bronx Dog and a Dirty Beatnik back in the 90s, they started up the PC project in 2002 with the aim of making more out there, bizarre form of dance music. The result is spooky disco like this song and the absolute stormer “Are You Anywhere?” which is also included on the new DC compilation Death Before Distemper.
    See, their settling in so perfectly with DC Recordings makes sense when you hear the label’s work as collected on this album. Death Before Distemper is fourteen brilliant tracks that range from modern krautrock, dark italo and space disco, to electro workouts to mellow, acid bent BOC-style downtempo songs. The album collects items the label has released over the last couple of years by these guys, the Emperor Machine (Chicken Lips’ Andrew Meecham’s project), Kelpe, Vincent Markowskie, White Light Circus (another part of Chicken Lips, Dean Meredith), the Orichalc Phase, and J. Saul Kane himself under both his Depth Charge guise, and his more recent alias, Alexander’s Dark Band.. Nearly every single song on the album has only been available on vinyl until now, so this is much of the non-DJ world’s first chance to hear all of this stuff.
    You can buy it from Amazon (US), Piccadilly Records and Phonica (UK). You deejays can get your mitts on DC releases from our friends at Turntable Lab here in NYC (and LA), and hopefully they’ll start carrying this compilation soon (hint hint guys). Absolutely essential listening.

  8. Contest – Supersystem at the Varsity, 10/9!

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    Hey Twin Cities Readers,
    Do you like free stuff? Do you like winning? Do you like Supersystem? Do you like winning free Supersystem stuff???
    If so, you must have been waiting for this day for a long time. Thanks to our friends at Touch and Go, we are offering up two pairs of Supersystem tickets for the band’s Oct. 9 show at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis. So first, be sure you can go in case you win, and second, answer this special trivia question:
    Supersystem used to be called something else – they shared a name with a character in the movie Three Amigos. What is this name?
    The first two correct answers win the tickets. E-mail your responses to david [at] I’ll announce the winners later today. The answer is El Guapo.
    In the meantime, enjoy this track from A Million Microphones, which you can buy here.
    SupersystemWhite Light / White Light.
    ****UPDATE**** We have our winners: Kendall Bryant and Ben Shardlow! You’re both on the list for the 10/9 show. Congratulations.