Simon Joyner: Heaven's Gate
Posted by Jimmy Applebottom
for Vertigo Music Online
Nobody likes Simon Joyner. It's true. Despite the fact that Conor
Oberst has described him as "the best there is as far as humans," and
released a duet with the guy, no Bright Eyes fans seem to find their
way to the Simon Joyner section of their local record shop. It's
probably due to the fact that Simon Joyner is far older, far wiser and
far better than Oberst can yet hope for, so his music lacks that
certain plaintive, angsty quality that captures the heart of millions
of other plaintive, angsty people.
Regardless, no fans of Leonard Cohen or Townes Van Zant find their
way to the Simon Joyner bin either, and he easily stands next to those
big guns and holds his own. He's a sing er/songwriter. Period. Most
of his songs don't even have a decent backing band, just a violin or
the occasional fiddle or drumbeat. That doesn't stop people from
buying Mounain Goats records by the boatload, does it?
Joyner's been releasing music since cassette labels were still all
the rage. He's got the love-it-or-hate-it voice that seems to beg for
indie cred. He writes horribly literate narratives and releases
multi-record 7" compendiums of 60's & 70's singer/songwriter cover
tunes in homage to his craft. John Peel once played his 'The Cowardly
Traveler Pays His Toll' LP front to back on his radio show. He is so
obviously an influence on Conor Oberst that the kid should have to pay
royalties, yet Oberst is "the next Dylan" and Simon Joyner barely gets
a footnote. We all know there's no justice here on Earth, but before
i die i will make someone acknowledge this guy's talent.
While the recently re-released (on vinyl) 'Yesterday, Tomorrow and
In-Between' is his most accessible record, brimming with actual
backing-band accompaniment, it's 'Heaven's Gate' that really showcases
the guy's abilities. It's a stark, pretty depressing record, but his
manipulation of metaphor and inarguable songwriting talent just walk
up casually and smack you in the face. Later records are decent, but
'Heaven's Gate' is the most cohesive, consistent statement i think
he's made. If you're looking for something to put on shuffle with
Cohen's 'Avalanche' and old Nick Cave, or maybe just something to
replace those Bright Eyes discs you've overplayed ad nauseum, would
you please, PLEASE, stop overlooking the Simon Joyner bin? Please?
Restiform Bodies - Restiform Bodies
Posted by Jimmy Applebottom for Vertigo Music Online
You ever have one of those "secret weapon" cds? The one you bust out
on road trips or at low-key parties and after 20 minutes everyone says
"What are we listening to? This is amazing." You kind of smirk and
say "__________" and then they nod like they know what you're talking
(A week later they will all ask you to burn them a copy because they
can't find it or remember the name of the band they didn't know about
to begin with.)
This is one of those cds. Restiform Bodies (comprised of Passage,
The Bomarr Monk & Telephone Jim Jesus) gets filed in the hip hop
section, but there is almost nothing here to tether it to that
category. We just don't know where else to put it.
80's synth lines, fractured beats, mile-a-minute stream of
consciousness lyrics and genre-bending instrumentation all kind of
trample over one another for 80 minutes, and when you're done it
almost demands another listen just to figure out what the hell you
just experienced. Passage's delivery (sometimes spoken, sometimes
sung) is the only consistent element, as the backdrop shifts through
just about every type of sampler trick and bizarre 80's new wave
posturing one could ask for. '3rd Reel Judy Garland' near the end of
the disc is a perfect example, as Gary Numan's 'Cars' gets stripped
down and outfitted with a Vietnamese vocal snippet for a bridge, while
Passage (without a hint of a rhyme) delivers a three minute diatribe
on the movie industry.
It makes you want to dance, drop acid, read the dictionary, buy a
synthesizer, vomit a little, call your mom and start a band, and that
all happens before the 15 minute mark. Hell, it happens all within
the second song.
Although all members are now part of the Anticon collective, none of
their newer work compares to the sheer variety, left-field mayhem and
experimentation of this debut LP, despite the fact that Anticon
specializes in making hip hop for indie rockers. It stands alone,
forgotten in the music store bins, as one of the best and most
consistently engaging records to fall under the avant hip hop tag.
Oh, and it's perfect for road trips.
Hollertronix: Never Scared
Posted by Jimmy Applebottom for Vertigo Music Online
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The city of brotherly love. It makes a
certain kind of sense that if Dirty South crunk, Baltimore house, The
Cure and 60's disco were going to spawn a mutant hybrid that make
street thugs, bespectacled Weezer fans, 35 year old secretaries and
gutterpunks get up on the same dance floor and shake their asses
together, Philly would be the place.
Before Diplo was the household name he is today, remixing the Yeah
Yeah Yeahs and dating M.I.A, he and fellow cohort LowBudget were just
two kids out of Philly looking for a DJ gig. What they created was a
city wide explosion that took the "mashup" genre into something
totally unheard of. Within the first ten minutes of 'Never Scared'
Missy Elliott, Ludacris, The Clash, Debbie Deb and JJ Fad run buckwild
over and under one another in a seamless blend of pure, party-starting
bliss. It doesn't matter what you like, where you work or whether you
have legs. Everyone grabs another shot of whiskey/Hennessey/French
kamikaze and a PBR and rushes the dancefloor like there was a fire
near the back.
It's without genre because it's all genres. All at once. DMX and
the Eurythmics, Snoop Dogg & the Cure, Bjork and Three Six Mafia.
They're all holding hands over some Baltimore thump or electroclash
breaks while anyone within earshot shuts the fuck up and takes notice.
Diplo has been busy making his own LP and touring the globe with
M.I.A, but LowBudget and the rest of The Rub (their collective of
like-minded DJs) are still churning out pawrty jawns like it was
illegal. Which it is. Regardless, their next installment of goodness
is due by the end of '06, and since it can only be released in
"promotional" quantities, you might want to keep your eyes peeled and
your dancefloor open. In the meantime, find yourself a copy of 'Never
Scared' and act like you know.