TerribleTumors – January 2010 Recordings

Omnibus Snowstorm (1:20)
Prior to creating this song, I was creating instrument profiles in Garage Band. This was a direct result of this. I smashed out a chord on the keyboard and was messing with the octave buttons on my MIDI controller. I liked the chord, so I recorded it, sustaining it as such for 1:20 seconds. I came up with the melody based on the chord. I tried a few different deviations with it, but ultimately ended up with the simple progression that ended up on the track. I really wanted a beat in this song, but it had to be very subdued. I managed to play with some of the sounds and came up with a great, simple kick/snare combo beat that I think sits just far enough under it, that it’s unobtrusive nature actually makes it central. I added a reverse cymbal crash to give it just a bit more texture. I thought about getting a bit more complex, but figure that this track would serve as a nice segue or interlude between some other tracks. It was snowing out when I started this track. But Ominous Snowstorm sounds like a stupid title. Omnibus sounds more interesting.

Brett Easton Ellis (3:34)
I follow Brett Easton Ellis on twitter. I am waiting for an announcement for his new book. On the day that JD Salinger died, Ellis’s reaction was less than mournful. I am not sure how I feel about that. JD Salinger wrote one of my favorite books, Franny and Zooey. I’ve explored most of Ellis’s work over the last decade. I really enjoy the first chapter of Lunar Park. The self awareness and self satire are quite entertaining. This song sounds nothing like what I think Brett Easton Ellis represents in literature however. Mostly he was on the brain while I was creating it. The only analogue instrument on hear is the bass. It employs the open E I enjoy utilizing. The drum beat includes some “other” sampled sounds included with my drum machine. It is these sounds that I specifically hope to import from my own sources soon. This song for me, punctuates the limitations of the tools at my disposal where “Omnibus Snowstorm” illustrates the possibilities.

Crucified the Womb (3:54)
This goes from being a mellow bit of riffing to a bright explosion of notes. I also utilize part of a riff as a breakdown, which I enjoy. It’s economical. Something I learned from the Minutemen, the theory, I don’t mean to suggest this song is reminiscent of their sonic qualities. I do think there is a bit of Sonic Youth in the end. Also, after listening to Joy Division today, I am beginning to see some subconscious influence in their approach to the drums. Lungfish, The Minutemen, Joy Division, thrifty music makers who make some of the most interesting and intense music ever. Also, this song has some happy sounding guitar playing. This type of music is coming from a part of me that I just don’t quite understand. So yea, I had to call in “Crucified the Womb” because that shit sounds evil. Actually, I think it’s an interesting concept, crucifixion, and how it is used in language today. We seem to use it as a way of exalting someones innocence.

Janice Ate My Brain (3:32)
I am not sure if I like this song. I doubled the drums on two separate tracks utilizing two different kit sets and two different types of effects applied. This song was more of an excuse to play with that. I wanted to play with some technical ideas and this is the result. The song isn’t that great and I don’t think I succeeded in melding the two drum tracks.

3 Eyes and 32 Faces (3:11)
This song has been around for a while. But I hated it the way I was playing it. Then, when cleaning up files on the computer I found a sketch demo. Something in that demo made me try again. I changed the rhythm guitar parts to fit into a 4/4 beat and added some guitar parts. Also came up with a bass part that I really like. My tube preamp always comes through. All the bass and guitar I record goes through that. I actually prefer it to using an amplifier. This song also has vocals, they are pretty much about nature and human kinds assumptions of dominance. The title comes from a story I heard on The Moth, a story tellers podcast. It was a story by a young man from New York who was growing up gay and dealing with his family that didn’t accept him. He said that when he dressed more effeminate his brother looked at him like he had 3 eyes and 32 faces.


My Education in DC Hip Hop

2009 DC Hip Hop finally existed. I mean, maybe it existed prior to then. But fucked if I knew anything about it. It’s not like I haven’t been looking or reading or trying to find out about it. And I’d like to say for a suburban white boy weened on heavy doses of Black Flag during my formative years, I’d like to think I know a hint or two about independent hip hop. I knew about Del the Funkee Homosapien before he was on that Gorillaz album. I got down with The Coup before they almost put out an album that had a picture of the World Trade Center being blown up. It’s not like I’m not into the shit. Still, DC has not been known for a strong, cohesive Hip Hop scene. In 2009, thanks in no small part to Wale, DC’s hip hop scene got some serious coverage. Below is what I’ve learned about. Get in on it.

Rosetta Stoned/Food Chain Collective.
The Kingdom of Kush
Mix Tape Download (here)

I literally discovered this band on the photo sharing site flickr. This dude SexyFitsum took some AMAZING photos of this band and after seeing them I hit the internet and was surprised to find a bunch of free music. This mix tape, credited to the Food Chain Collective is some serious fucking hip-hop. I’ve never heard anything like it in any of the hip-hop I’ve listened to. It’s some demented, energetic shit. The beats are big, the sounds are crazy and schizophrenic and the MC’s drop some retarded mouthfuls of word gymnastics. The song “Fungi” (the Metaphysical Remix this collection) is so fucking sick it hurts my brain. How this band is not getting more props I will never know. I know so little about them that it disturbs me. Sometimes I think this shit only exists in my head, but it can’t be. Rosetta Stoned are currently releasing a bunch of new songs every week which are just as fucking crazy as Kingdom of Kush. Download this shit NOW. You will not be underwhelmed.

The Cornel West Theory
Second Rome
Sockets Records

With a name like The Cornel West Theory, how can you not be intrigued right? I have been for a while. As I stated in my last post, I finally got to see this band. While I was expecting more Dalek, the comparison was not unfounded, but they were much more subdued and chilled out. There album is pretty chill too. It’s an easy listen, with great delivery. Timothy Hicks is the straight man, and his smooth delivery is complimented by Rashad Dobbins drunken zen lyricism. I can’t help but also be reminded of Public Enemy either. Again The Cornel West Theory are not as abrasive as either of the two groups I’ve mentioned. Second Rome is more of a shoulder shaker and head nodder than a fist pumper. Blasting from the windows of your hoopty is probably not going to get you stares from frightened pedestrians, but this shit is going to infect your blood. Like many hip hop albums, it’s a bit long in the tooth with 21 songs. But it holds up pretty well and manages to keep one’s attention for the long haul. Least we forget that Cornel West also drops some knowledge. That’s fucking cool.

Diamond District
In the Ruff
The Mello Music Group

Originally released as a clean-version mix tape, this debut album by a collective made up of producer Oddisee, YU and X.O., snuck up on me from nowhere. It was XMAS day, I had a bunch of iTunes gift cards (because people love me) and I was ready to spend that shit. I found this as a best of 2009 indie rap recommendation and when I saw it was from DC, I downloaded it without listening to it. Needless to say, I am pretty happy with my impulse purchase. Diamond District has a harder sound, with a definite urban feel to it. The beats are harsh and central to the sound, and if anything is going to define a sound for DC Hip Hop, it’s going to be this. As a whole, the album certainly has it’s memorable moments (“Streets Won’t Let Me Chill”, “I Mean Business” and “First Time”) and is a pretty strong debut. There are some average moments, but Oddisee at the boards and YU and X.O. on the mic are pretty strong. In The Ruff is catchy as hell, but by no means mainstream.

Mix Tape Download (here)

On the heels of In The Ruff, X.O. released his debut mixtape. While not as fleshed out and not quite as adventurous as In the Ruff, 1.1.10 provides a showcase for X.O. to showcase some of his skills. I need to spend a little more time with this, which is not that easy with Diamond District still pretty fresh on my iPod, but X.O, does have my attention. And shit, it’s free. My feeling is the mixtape is where hip hop artists flesh out ideas, work on their skills. There not demos per say, because many of the songs on mix tapes don’t really make it on to “official albums”, but it does allow these kids the opportunity to get there name out.

Attention Deficit

After two fantastic mix tapes, a single with Lady Gaga, Remixes by Mark Ronson, MTV, Rolling Stone and all types of record industry establishment hype, including big ups from the king of emotional outbursts, Kanye West, the kid who put D.C. hip hop on the map drops his debut album, finally. And frankly, I can’t get into it. The delivery leaves a lot to be desired. The production is standard and boring. The album cover even sucks. And I truly am not trying to be a hater here. I was into 100 Miles and Running. I lost my shit when the Seinfeld informed Mixtape About Nothing went viral all over the internet. I even dropped cash on the CD for more than what I could have got it for on iTunes at a local shop, but I just can’t get into it. The song “TV In The Radio” (emphasis mine) which happens to be produced by TV ON the Radio’s David Sitek, really just is not good or inspired at all. Mixtape About Nothing was pretty much amazing, and everyone should download that shit right now. Otherwise, I say pass on Attention Deficit.

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Sockets Records Five Year Anniversary

Local music geek (I use this term with reverence and affection) Denman Anderson recently declared to me that, within the boundaries of Washington D.C., hipsterism was dead. And I must say, that I agree. There is no one really “cool” in this town. Our music scene has been in dire need of rejuvenation for years, without the inventive bands, and amazing show makers our history has provided. However,if you missed the Socket Records five year Anniversary show at the Black Cat, then you my friend are not part of the new anti-hipster collection of weird ass people that actually like music in this town and are willing to support it. Seriously you missed the first music event of the year, and something very special and LOOOOOOOOOOONG overdue.

Quick overview of Sockets Records. This dude, Sean Peoples, he made lots of weird music, and knew other people who did too. So he put out CD-R’s of crazy weird shit. He met a lot of people that way that also made music and people liked what he was doing. Then he started putting out a few records by some non-conventional, but less bedroom bound groups and people got interested. Now, pretty much he’s got his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in this town and making shit happen. Thank you Sean Peoples.

So, for the show, first up for the evening was Big Gold Belt. Imagine, if you will, that Mark Mothersbaugh is in the studio, a little high on laughing gas, and he’s producing a record by Madonna circa 1985. But this Madonna is self aware of her career and decides to make an ironic, semi humorous album. Then, after the studio closes for the evening, Thurston Moore sneaks in and remixes everything in his devilish manner. Yeah, that’s Big Gold Belt. I am not sure if I loved them or hated them, which means they are doing something right. Fronted by Christina E., I can’t help but be reminded also of Tiffany, Samantha Fox and of course Sheila E., as she pops her hips on stage delivering a sweet, sugary vocal. The soundscapes, lovingly looked over by guitarist Luke (last names people, last names) are replete with lots of pop music essentials, but they’ve been skewed just a little bit. A band like this is hard to pin down, because they are so saturated in the influences of the 80’s. But the music was bold and daring, too much so to be ironic. Big Gold Belt may be giving a nod to the goofy shit of that goofy decade, but it did not feel insincere.

For my money Buildings owned the fucking evening. A fairly new band and, instrumental to boot, the DC Trio did what could be called post-rock with DC punk flavors. But honestly that description seems to undercut them. Frankly it’s been a long time since I was instantly taken by a band, but everything they did was intense. Mike Watt says that the Minutemen played 100% each time because they thought it would all come to an end and Buildings seem to have adopted that sentiment for themselves. I’m not sure how many people were familiar with them, but I guarantee when they play again, this town is gonna post up and it’s gonna be an amazing time.

In the wake of Buildings full out onslaught, Imperial China had a lot of room for failure. My first interaction with this band was from their Dissonance Radio show a few months ago. I liked the play list, and the conversation engaged me, but the track they played left me wanting more. However, I opened my mind to the performance and was pleasantly surprised. The trio approaches music much the way Black Eyes used to. Imperial China is more economical however, and they use that to their advantage, making for a much more pleasant, but equally intense live show. Of all the bands that played this night, they seemed to be the best link to DC’s post-punk past of the last two decades, but their utilization and adoption of influences beyond the diamond district was executed with more precision than any of their forefathers.

The showcase has been getting a lot of press from the DC press machine this week. Personally, I think this is a really good thing. It means we are on the cusp of something big and lots of people are not only taking notice, but are generally interested. It could be the case of right place, right time, but of course it’s always more than that. The bands that played this night were really really good at what they did.

One of the bands that seemed to have a lot of hype was Hume. The brainchild of Britton Powell, Hume has become a group of wonderkids with the recent adoption of Christian Brady (Mass Movement of the Moth, Antlers) and Joey Doubek (MMotM, Ingrid). Rounded out by Wilson Kemp on drums, this was the band that everyone came to see. And with a line up like that, you know at the very least the musicianship is going to be very good. Which is how I felt about the performance. Of all the bands that played, Hume was the most accessible and probably has the best opportunity to introduce Sockets to a larger audience. And they are all exceptional musicians. I mean crazy fucking good. Doubek is the the kind of kid I hate, because he is not just good, but amazing at every instrument he picks up. So even though the songs didn’t really grab me, just watching him play bass for 35 minutes was fucking outrageous. Complemented by the playful Christian Brady, who knows the guitar well, but has the decency to approach it with child like glee, Hume definitely set out to impress. I do feel though they could use a little more grit and a little less self indulgence. For my tastes a punch to the gut and a little less meandering would make Hume unstoppable. But I don’t suggest they listen to me, because the sound they have now is sure to wow more people then me.

Closing out the evening was The Cornel West Theory, a hip-hop band that’s been making waves in the Districts recent 1st wave of hip hop. For mainstream tastes, they are a bit on the edge. But they blend soundscapes with hip hop in a nice, laid back way that comes to party as much as it comes to chill out on the couch. I’ve been wanting to see this band for a long time, and was very pleased that this was the night I got to take them in. However, I am calling out, right now the 50% of the audience that appeared to have bailed out between Hume and The Cornel West Theory. Because seriously, you are a fucking IDIOT if you left. This really does make me wonder if indie rock and hip hop can be bead fellows. Sometimes genre mixing on shows does not melt well together. But The Cornel West Theory being on this bill was not only vital, but closing out the night was the only way it could be. While all the other bands were really confrontational in their own ways, The Cornel West Theory was inviting. This is what Hip Hop has that rock music seams to lack. rather then steam roll over you with power, The Cornel West Theory invites you in. I left wanting more, and glad of that. DC Hip Hop is on the map, The Cornel West Theory deserves props for doing their part.

After the show, I hit the merch table and bought three CD’s. I can’t remember the last time I went to a show where I felt as engaged and uplifted as I did by this Sockets Records Showcase. Every band existed within their own musical plane, finding their own sounds and presenting it with conviction. And while shit was deadly serious, it was also fun as hell and most importantly it was really good. Washington D.C. so desperately needs a new musical voice, and I believe that Sockets Records has that ability. After this evening, I instinctively trust the curating of Mr. Sean Peoples. In this new climate of musical distribution, the only thing an independent label can do i create a trustworthy brand. I am not talking brand loyalty like corporations seek, but the kind of affinity that a label like Dischord or SST created, by producing legendary music that was accessible to it’s fans, even as it grows. I shook Mr. Peoples’s hand last night as he handed me my new music. But as taken as I was by the evening, I could tell by the enthusiasm of his grip and shake that he was just as awestruck.

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Terrible Tumors – S/T EP

While the face and fate of issue #4 of Korrupt Yr Self fester in the depths of “on hold” I accidentally started a new musical project. It’s called Terrible Tumors and I accidentally recorded 7 songs. You can get it on CD. Email me your address and I will mail you one. If I have your address already, you are pretty much getting one.

This is what it looks like:

Two EP’s From Washington DC

Birds & Wires
Amor Y Lucha

Birds & Wires is a very difficult band to write about. Not because they aren’t an amazing collection of intense, superb musicians, but because they are a bunch of dudes my age, spread over three cities that don’t play music together as much as other bands that are half as good as they are. Frankly it’s been a very very long time in Washington D.C. since a band has utterly blown me off my feet. Birds & Wires have done that. Their debut EP leaves me panting, thirsty like a begging dog for more.

For the first time in my life, I would say it is unfair not to compare Birds & Wires to Fugazi. There is so much of that intense energy and sharp dynamic in these four songs, that it seems almost unkind not to mention them in that same breath. But lets not be mistaken, Birds & Wires are not a hopeless bunch of failing copycats. No, they burst through with an energetic, thick post punk punch.

My boy John Seager, this is where I love him the most, when he flexes his musical skill. Yea Aghast and Lotus Fucker are fucking great, loud fast bands. But in Birds & Wires, Seager’s talents not just as a drummer, but a musician shine through. I’ve been waiting for this since the unappreciated A New Spelling of My Name LP.

Further still the production on this is sharp. Big ups to Hugh McElroy behind the nobs. It’s dirty enough that it has that Rites of Spring feel, the energy comes first for sure. But unlike all those near forgotten gems from DC punks history, this record sounds fantastic. Those clean guitars resonate, the bass rumbles your feet and the vocals aren’t buried in the mix. Joao Da Silva’s sing song bark is trademark type vocal delivery, and it is captures so crisp and clean. Not many DC bands have been this articulate, but the quality matters.

Four songs though? Fuck that’s just not enough. I know these boys are in their 30’s, managing personal lives outside music, but these are sounds worth the sacrifice. I don’t fault them for their decisions as people, but there is so much music out there that just isn’t as urgent or engaging as Birds & Wires. I am being greedy as fuck, but I want more from these four lads. DC needs more bands like this. Hopefully this EP will bring a resurgence. If your in a band consider this recording a challenge to step the fuck up. You’re on notice.

Voyage in Coma
self released

I saw Voyage in Coma this summer at an intimate show at St. Stephens Church. From the very first few bars of their very first song I knew that this was a band that was going to blow me over. I also knew that they had the best two guitar players in the city in one band. The interplay between Andy Freedman and Henry Mills was like watching Omar Rodriguez Lopez cloned into two. Seriously, watching this band was like when I saw At the Drive In when Vaya came out. It was fucking unbelievable. People should not be this good at music, especially in their early twenties. But they were and I got to see them.

So, naturally, when the internet told me they had an EP recorded I was desperate to get that shit. Luckily I ran into Henry at the des_ark show this Friday (where I met his dad, which is awesome. Seriously, how many people take their dads to punk rock shows? Not many. Henry Mills: Cooler than You) and procured a copy of their EP Cartography.

This shit is no joke. When dudes ten years younger than me can make music that takes me back ten years AND think of it in a good light, that’s fucking success. It must be said, the generation that Voyage In Coma is coming from is way smarter then my own generation. They are taking in such an extreme amount of music and turning out such incredible songs. But where most bands fail in being consistent, Voyage In Coma far exceeds any one’s expectations. In a world where so many half assed dicks are playing melodic rip off kids shit and singing about their precious selves, Voyage in Coma are made up of some virtuosos. People SHOULD be paying good money to check this band out. With four songs in twenty-one minutes, this band is doing some acrobatic shit. It never gets tired but more importantly it never gets overbearing and pretentious, which lets face it, virtuosity has a tendency to do.

Word is that Andy has left the band. Such is the impetuousness of youth I suppose. Who knows what drew him away from this band. Whatever it is, it’s a shame and I hope that Voyage in Coma can find someone else that fits the mold and carry on. They’ve taken a lot of risks, venture into a lot of familiar territory, but treated it with reverence rather then just imitating it. Of course they have the skill to pull it off. Lets hope the world gets to see more of it.

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Originally uploaded by goodgovernor

It’s honestly very difficult for me to talk about how much Aimee’s music means to me. Taking photos of her playing music is like breathing, except that sometimes I have to stop and take a breath. A note, a word, an ascent in her voice, or a soft whisper can really take you out of stride. I honestly think that I could watch her play music every night, taking photos every night and never really capture everything that she accomplishes while she plays her songs. These odd moments, stolen from time, in milliseconds are shuttering to me, and yet it’s what my eye has captured, at least as fast as my finger can react. There is no other artist on this planet like AImee Argote, and to see her play music is a gift. I am so grateful for these pictures.

Jolene Van Vugt – The Face of Feminism for the New Decade (in my not so humble Opinion)

The other day, I sat down on my couch, resting my fat, white, middle class, 30 something ass in front of my 32 inch tube powered television to watch four hours of Nitro Circus on the Music Television Channel. While I realize I may be slightly outside the intended demographic for this show, I must confess, I love stunts. Jackass, which premiered at the beginning of the last decade, is one of my favorite shows ever. It is dumb and crude but the stupid, wacky shit those guys did, was awesome. The Nitro Circus crew has refined (mostly) the formula, driving motorcycles, jumping out of planes, wrecking Monster Trucks. It’s less poop and more action. And though it too avoids the concept of race by having an all white cast, much like it’s older cousin Jackass, it does have a female presence in Jolene Van Vugt.

Jolene Van Vugt is a champion motorcross champion and world record holder for Longest Female backflip and being the first Female to record a Backflip. As a member of Nitro Circus she has jumped out of planes, been boosted into the air and nearly shattered bones, flipped bikes, jumped hectic gaps, and slammed, smashed and scraped her self with the rest of “the boys” she is surrounded by. Though sidelined for most of Season Two with a broken wrist, Van Vugt still participated in many of the shows.

And it is for these reasons I think that Van Vugt is a great face for a new generation of feminism. Though she is often refered to as the “girl” on the show, and when she clearly exceeds in skill against others, her gender is often used as a slap in the loosing male opponents face, her presence on the show is, I believe, invaluable to young girls. Van Vugt is performing stunts that are dangerous, gut wrenching and of the variety that induces fear in all the cast members. And she has never once backed down, even in the face of her own fear. She goes for it every time. If she falls, she gets back up and tries again, persevering against the obstacles.

We could talk about her looks and how she feeds the blonde haired, blue eyed, beauty model that MTV is so in love with. And that’s probably not a coincidence either. But I feel that also distracts from what she has accomplished by being a female, breaking barriers into the white boys club. MTV is not known for having many positive, female roll models. You can’t really include anyone from the several seasons of “Real World” or their new reality program “The Jersey Shore”. And while there was Daria, an offshoot of Mike Judges Beavis and Butthead, I can’t think of another show that had such a strong female figure representing. We have a long way to go with media still. Jolene Van Vugt’s persona on television is is a small, but monumental step along that pathway.

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