Curtis Eller, and why you need to know about him

December 10, 2007 at 11:01 pm (Reviews)

This is Curtis Eller:

Curtis Eller

That enough ought to get your attention, but in case you’re the kind of sicko who isn’t intrigued by moustachioed, baggy-trousers-wearing banjo players, allow me to elaborate:

Curtis Eller is the best live act doing the rounds at the moment. He is possibly one of the greatest live music performers ever, steeped in Coney Island showmanship and toting songs about Buster Keaton, Abraham Lincoln, and circus elephants. He high-kicks around the stage, yodelling through instrumental sections, and occasionally pausing mid-song to explain some of the more obscure American history references in his lyrics.

Last week he played in Bath’s Moles Club (supported, incidentally, by the mighty Smokehand), and for the third time I came home and resolved to practice my banjo, write songs, and basically be like Curtis. Actually, that’s not true; the first time I saw him I went home and decided to get a banjo. During that show, Curtis decided that the stage was too far from his seated audience, and promptly unplugged and performed his whole set leaping on tables and chairs amongst the punters. The second time I saw him, he managed to coax the whole club into singing ‘When the Red Red Robin Goes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along’ a capella for so long that we kept going for a good minute or two after he’d left the stage.

This time round was no disappointment either, as he sang from atop a chair, his head up in the lighting rig, crept around crouched low and singing about Jack Ruby, and lectured his audience on the finer technical points of a good yodel. “Buster Keaton,” he reminds us, “is dead, by the way, so you’re gonna have to yodel louder than that…”.

If I’m making Curtis out to sound like a novelty act… well, he kind of is, but not in a bad way. His persona harks back to the days when a showman was a showman, a gimmick was nothing to be ashamed of, and whether what you were doing was good was a consideration secondary to whether it was entertaining. “Make ’em laugh” and all that. That Curtis Eller’s music is in fact by turns haunting, rousing and brilliant is some kind of wonderful bonus.

He’s coming to the UK again in April, so make the effort and check out a true entertainer.


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December 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm (Uncategorized)

Well, myself, Liam and about 5998 other people are going to Butlins, Minehead today for the Portishead curated All Tomorrows Parties!!! Huzzah. Bands to look out for – Team Brick on before Aphex Twin on the main stage, Thurston Moore performing songs off his new solo album, and of course Portishead, playing new songs from their forthcoming album…

So, a quick review…. Kling Klang started things off for me on a friday afternoon, and started it well. Uh, kind of Krautrocky? But good anyhew, and a hell of a lot better than Sparklehorse. Now, we all like the horse of sparkles round here, but playing “solo” only for the second time (the first being at the cube! go us!) he really didnt hold the crowd or sound at all like fun. Get your band back dude! Glenn Branca then made a racket with 8 guitarists, including Thurston Moore, who then ran (maybe not literally) to the Pavillion Stage to blow us away with material from trees outside the academy. with an accoustic guitar. aha. and a violinist.


(ahem, stock photo anyone?)  Surprisingly sounding unlike sonic youth, i was too far away to touch him. though i might have died if i had. I pity the people that missed him becuase they had to see Portishead on Friday and not Saturday. John Parish, blah, but then Chrome Hoof unexpectedly blew me away, with their silveryness and damo suzuki guest spots.

Saturday arrives, and Oneida start the day well (i know i already used this phrase. bothered) even though the guitarists amp blew during the second song. Liam had strong words to say about their set up… Malcolm Middleton played the same set as when he supported Mogwai at somerset house, and instead i went to see the GZA perform Liquid Swords. Sweet. the opening sample from some martial arts film always sends a shiver up my spine, and the new wu songs he played at the end rocked as well. Glenn Branca played again, this time with a double ended guitar and his wife, and while their song was good, paranoid critical revolution were poor, and food was searched for.


in prepartation for…

Portishead. they didnt dissapoint. while beth wasnt the most chatty of performers, old songs and new were rapturously received, though they didnt play that song off portihead (al the stars? sadface) but what can you do? Watch Om, half of sleep as was, suck until they turned up the volume. But wheres theguitar? And go to bed, after Apex Twin (now with 70% less hair) sucked quite hard. boring boring techo.

Sunday, and we didnt win the pub quizz, though i won some other people some goodies, so i did my good deed for the weekend, and its a relaxed start to the day (after watching Crybaby, Johnny Depps film debut) before Boris, Earth and Sunn O))))…

Boris, or BORIS (depending on how they are feeling) were great, though particular shouts to the guitarist with a double necked guitar, and the drummer who waved a lot and had a giant gong. They were in more of a garage rock mood this time (feel free to contradict me on this point. or indeed at any time) though this was good, as it prepared us for…Earth, playing their american doom rock. its all very different round Scott Carsons way since the days of Earth 2 and that E.P. he did with Kurt Cobain on vocals. Nowadays, intriguingly, their sound (supllied by a full band) sounds like a doooom americana. And the thing is, its more that they play very intricate songs, but slowly rather than just loud droney rock. Wich is what Sunn O))) do, very very well, and indeed LOUDLY. Delayed by a fire alarm going off, i can only feel sorrow for the workers of Butlins, and then laugh in their faces, as they completely fail to comprehend the LOUDNESS of the robe clad guitarists, and the mumblings of a man dressed as a tree (allagedly the singer of Mayhem). I could feel my clothes vibrate and by the end was still slighlt deaf, even though i had been wearing earplugs. And they had a fight at the end, which apparently involved somone punching Stephen O’Malley in the face. What more could you ask for?


Team Brick threw in a virtuoso half hour set in afterwards (shockingly the first time i had seen him play, even though he is forever drinking coffee in the cube. can you please pick up that name that i just dropped), and the Aphex came on again. blah de blah.

P.s. the other great success of the weekend was not eating chips the entire time. And finnegans cheese and onion pasty was small and shit. i might have to go to burger king next time : (


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Six Organs of Admittance – Shelter from the Ash

December 6, 2007 at 5:55 pm (Dual reviews)


So, our first review, well on this site. Will we agree, will we disagree, will it make any difference seeing as a)you dont know what either of us like and b) probably arent reading this anyway? If somebody says something libelous and no-one reads it, does that mean they cant sue? I refuse to let the fact that Ben Chasny has STOLEN MY WIFE in anyway reflect my feelings about this album. Sure, he and Elissa Ambrogio teamed up for the slightly more ambient Blaast album, and then she gives some backing vocals on three tracks here, but I could accept that (though why he doesnt let her play any guitar is beyond me. just because he is a very good guitarist and Ambrogio goes down more the hitting with a drum stick approach, and she does have a good voice, which goes well with his, er, unique, singing) but then i heard they were dating. Fucking hell. So, in a way, my relationship with Ben is reflected on the album, starting quietly and getting loud (and slightly angry. well loud and less focused with more wig outs and less finger picking) finishing with a more sombre tone as i realise i want to marry the singer from HTRK instead.

If this review were a game of taboo the following words would be banned: Acid drenched folk rock “finger licking good” (see what i did there?)


STAGE DIRECTIONS: Simon stops reviewing. Liam starts:

For some reason I was expecting this to sound like Oneida. Now Simon tells me this is one of the guys from Comets on Fire, and what I want this to sound like is Oneida with swooshy delay fuckery all over the top. That would be awesome.
Suffice to say, that is not what this sounds like.
Initial impressions are not good – droney not-actually-a-sitar noises, some lazy ‘world music’ type guitar work, and… is that CHANTING? Mother of god, it’s like hanging out with the really earnest kids at a ‘69 sit-in, when all the real flower children are fucking and dancing on LSD down the street.
And now you drop a big electric guitar solo in there too, genius? Why? Breaking out some overdriven scree over twinkly acoustics just sounds like the breakdown in a Guns ‘n’ Roses power ballad. EVERY TIME.

The sections of pure acoustic guitar melody work are nice enough –the beginning of ‘Goddess Atonement’ brings Jack Rose to mind (at least it would do if I could stop cringing over the song title) –but realistically I’m not going to climb over John Fahey to get to this. And anyway, then he fucks it up by doubling the melody line with an electric guitar, some boomy drums come in, and I swear I can hear Axl gearing up to break back into the chorus. Oh, except then it just drops back into the acoustic bit and peters out. And that is what we call ‘dynamics’, children.

Frankly, I’m fed up of this freak/psych/folk/new-weird-americana thing and the ill-considered, half-arsed records its proponents are putting out. I watched Akron/Family the other week and I still can’t tell if they were taking the piss. Write some tunes and listen to more hip-hop, Benny boy.

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Formed a blog

December 1, 2007 at 10:23 pm (Uncategorized)


This is Making the Nature Scene.

Because god only knows you need another music review blog.

We (I say we – Simon did it, I didn’t do jack shit) tried this first with Stereo Sanctity ( a couple of weeks ago, then we found out Stereo Sanctity was the name of another music blog already, and, since the thought of two no-name web writers scrapping over their site name was too pitiful to contemplate, we picked another Sonic Youth song name and started again.

I don’t even know what ‘Making the Nature Scene’ sounds like, I just brought up an SY Discography and googled song names until I found one that wasn’t taken. Wait…

Kim Gordon

OK, I’ve had a listen – it’s on ‘Screaming Fields of Sonic Love’; it’s basically lots of No Wavey- drumming, Kim yelling, and a solo that’s clearly just Thurston Moore going nuts with a drumstick. Good times. OH HEY! Into the Groove(y)’s on this CD too! Ace.

So… I guess you should come back when we’ve put some stuff up.

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