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January 29, 2009

Telefon Home

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 10:04 am

 

I’ve spent the morning listening to Telefon Tel Aviv after learning yesterday of the passing of TTA member Charlie Cooper. The electronica duo spent most of their professional life based in Chicago, but Cooper and Joshua Eustis met in New Orleans as underage music fans hanging around the Abstract Cafe, the RC Bridge Lounge and Monaco Bob’s in the early 1990s. They were as well versed in punk as bounce, and when they needed strings for their second album, 2004’s Map of What is Effortless, they composed the parts and took them to the Loyola University Chamber Orchestra, which played them. 

I haven’t had time to come to grips with their new album, Immolate Yourself, though on first listen, it’s a significant departure from the lush maximalism that has characterized their work to date. Their debut, Fahrenheit Far Enough (2001) is slightly dated by the buzz and clicks of laptop electronica that has passed out of vogue, but their sense of melody is subtly complex with a lot of warmth to balance the cool, metallic surface textures that create energy and movement.

On Map of What is Effortless, their affection for dance music is more pronounced, particularly on the Prince-like, skittering “My Week Beats Your Year.” Again, the tension between warmth and cool plays out on the album, with Lindsay Anderson’s club diva deadpanning the lyrics after Damon Aaron’s nakedly confessional “I Lied.” His vocals now bring Phil Collins to mind, but not in a bad way, and throughout the album, the vocals chase the clicks and surface noise to the background, as if they served the lead vocal function. And while you can hear their techno background, the title track is lush and glacial, flirting with ambience in its lack of percussive elements and obvious movement.

On 2007’s Remixes Compiled, some of the tracks are easily dated. Their remix of Nine Inch Nails’ “Even Deeper” is obviously working with the sonic tools and sensibilities evident on Fahrenheit Far Enough, while Bebel Gilberto is integrated into the band as if she were one of the cast of singers for Map of What is Effortless on their remix of her “All Around.” The highlight of the album and its most controversial track is the extreme remix of Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” for a Blue Note remix album. Nelson’s track is barely in evidence, as if its role in the remix was to inspire this string-heavy track led by melancholy violins with dub-influenced guitars and subtle whooshes and whirrs massing on the margins of the track.

Beyond their ability to process sounds until they seem to morph from one instrument into another, melancholy is a common thread in Telefon Tel Aviv’s music so much so that it’s almost a third member of the group. It’s less obvious on Immolate Yourself in my first listens, but it’s not gone completely. At this point in the listening experience, the album seems like a conscious attempt to scale down and let electronic instruments sound electronic – perhaps to be as much a part of new new wave moment as they can muster.

I wouldn’t pretend to be someone who really knows them. I’ve interviewed Josh twice and when I was at Gambit, I went to lunch with Josh, Charlie and Damon around the time Map was released. None of that musical melancholy was present that afternoon as they were excited to be in the South again and happy to be back in the land of real food. And I wish I had something smart to say to wrap this up, but I really don’t. I just find this sad.

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January 26, 2009

Busy Man

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 7:12 am

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Thanks to Friend of OffBeat Clint Maedgen for getting up this morning to appear on WWL-TV’s morning show with Jan to hype Saturday night’s Best of the Beat at the House of Blues. I also appreciate Maedgen for playing the Best of the Beat because the New Orleans Bingo! Show is also playing the second night of a two-night stand at Le Chat Noir the same night. They’ll start our show at 7:30 and go straight from there to Le Chat for their show. 

Since I set my machine to tape the WWL appearance this morning, I haven’t seen and don’t know if there was any mention of Maedgen’s Thursday night show at Le Chat Noir – Clint Maedgen with Strings. If there was, then the show just got hyped for the second time. Besides working on these projects, he’s also recording his first album with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as its full-time clarinet player this month.

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January 23, 2009

My Better Angels

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 8:40 am

 

Last night, we got the word the Rebirth’s Phil Frazier will return to performance Saturday, January 31 when Rebirth plays the Howlin’ Wolf. It will be his first performance since he suffered a stroke late last year. So after the Best of the Beat at the House of Blues, you can hit the afterparty at Wolf and see Frazier back in action.

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A New Nick

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , , — Alex Rawls @ 7:27 am

 

Yep Roc Records will release Quiet Please … the New Best of Nick Lowe in March, and for once, a best-of could actually make the case, reaching across labels and bands to assemble a convincing set. It includes the great “Fool Who Knows” from the Little Village project with John Hiatt, Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner, as well as music from all phases of his solo career. The two-disc set opens with one of his best-known tracks from his British pub rock days: “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding” from his days in Brinsley Schwarz. Also on the track is his Brinsleys bandmate, keyboardist Bob Andrews – these days a New Orleanian and frequently a part of John Mooney’s band.

In 2006, I interviewed Andrews about his pub rock days and his connections to New Orleans. You can find it here.

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January 22, 2009

We Twitter Now

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 2:47 pm

 

OffBeat now Twitters. Visit us here to follow our updates.

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Help Needed

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 2:36 pm

 

We received this distressing email yesterday from Adele Dauphin at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl:

I wanted to update you on Snooks Eaglin and Harry Ravain.

Snooks has been hospitalized recently, but he has been released and is doing
better.  Snooks required some units of blood during his hospital stay, and
those units were charged to his hospital bill.  Ochsner Blood Bank has
organized a replacement blood drive for him.  Units of blood are very
expensive; a replacement drive puts donated units back in the blood bank and
Snooks gets a credit on his hospital bill for each unit donated. Thus, a
replacement drive helps keep the blood supply at good levels and helps him
with his medical expenses.

If you are able to donate blood, please call the Ochsner Blood Bank and tell
them you would like to donate in the name of Fird “Snooks” Eaglin. If you
live out of town, you can donate at your local blood bank or hospital, and
give them Ochsner’s contact info and Snooks’ name. The hospitals will
handle all the paperwork.

Ochsner Blood Bank
1516 Jefferson Highway
New Orleans, LA  70121
(504) 842-7826

Thank you.

Also, local drummer Harry Ravain has been battling lung cancer for a little
over a year now. Harry does all kinds of musical things, but most people
know him from Benny Grunch & the Bunch.  His prognosis is greatly improved
and it is possible for him to now have surgery to remove part of his lung so
he can be cancer-free. Rock ‘n’ Bowl and his friends will host a benefit on
Sunday, February 8 to help defray his medical expenses. A $5.00 donation
will get you entertainment by the following: Benny Grunch, Bobby Cure, Earl
Stanley, Fleur de Lis NOLA, John Blancher (!), The Nobles, New Orleans
Quarter Notes, Orleans, Paul Varisco, Phat Tuesday, acclaimed hypnotist
Amazing Dr. Z, and much more.  For more information, please call Alan Reese
at 504-888-9586 or 504-289-2167.  You can check up on Harry by reading his
blog, 
http://harryravain.blogspot.com/

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Just Added to the Best of the Beat

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: , — Alex Rawls @ 8:44 am

 

We finally nailed down the details and can announce that Glen David Andrews will be part of OffBeat’s Best of the Beat Awards show Saturday, January 31 at the House of Blues. He’ll play an early set outside in the Voodoo Lounge at 6:30, so get there early for our food service – from 6 to 7:30 – and free drinks inside at the Glazer’s bar.

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A Long Distance Dedication

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 7:47 am

 

Because my stack of Louisiana CDs looking for reviews never gets smaller, and the stack of CDs I’m trying to get to grows exponentially, I’m rarely thrilled when people who are never going to play here and that don’t do LA music send their CDs simply because the odds are against them getting reviewed. Still, when someone sends a CD from Malta – does it still exist? – I feel like it deserves at least a listen.

Fortunately, the self-titled EP by the Areola Treat is reminiscent of minor acts on Rough Trade in the late 1970s. The songs have that era’s post-punk lack of guitar histrionics, leaving the spotlight to the animated vocalist Lisa Micallel Grimaud. She yelps, whispers, and adopts voices and in the closing “Second Coming,” she gets lost in the echo chamber. She toes up to the nutty line but doesn’t cross it, drawing attention to the simple catchiness of the songs.

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January 21, 2009

Romilar on my Back

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 3:14 pm

 

It’s not really news, but here’s an entertaining take on Lil Wayne and his dark secret. Here’s another.

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January 18, 2009

BeauSoleil Reviewed

Filed under: Pop Life — Tags: — Alex Rawls @ 7:12 am

 

Nate Chinen reviews BeauSoleil’s new album, Alligator Purse, from Sunday’s New York Times. Good line:

He and his partners have such a clear identity by now — Mr. Doucet started BeauSoleil in 1975 — that the material bends toward them rather than the other way around. 

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