Monthly Archives: June 2012

Dandys and Brian Jonestown Massacre – both huge successes in my book

How do you define musical success? Lots of money? Lots of fans? Most dedicated cult following? Major label deal? It just keeps getting trickier and trickier.

A few weeks ago a friend loaned me his copy of Dig!, a documentary about the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols. Two very talented and trippy groups that had very different career paths – the Dandys got a major label deal and got really popular, especially in Europe; the BJM got more and more dysfunctional over time, with rampant drug use and constant fighting.

It also follows the changing relationship between BJM’s volatile singer Anton Newcombe and the Dandys’ Courtney Taylor, who started out as great friends and ended up as bitter rivals.

I recently saw both bands at Emo’s in Austin. The Brian Jonestown Massacre played at Psych Fest and The Dandy Warhols played later at their own show. I loved both bands, but I think I would’ve appreciated them a lot more if I had seen Dig! beforehand. I didn’t realize how awesome it is that Anton is keeping it together as well as he is right now, or that tambourinist Joel Gion still tours with the band after quitting/getting fired/getting in fights, etc. so many times. (BTW, Joel was my favorite “character” in Dig!, just laughing and clowning and partying through it all, the quintessential stoner.)

So which band succeeded? I would have to say both. The Dandys had more commercial success (Although Capitol has since downsized, dropping them from the label and turning them back into a “true indie” band). Their songs are catchier.

Brian Jonestown Massacre make consistently great music that will stand the test of time. They’re like some of the great psychedelic bands from the ’60s before they got big and lost their edge.

I think the Anton and Courtney love/hate relationship is fascinating. Anton envies Courtney’s success with the Dandys and Courtney loves and envies Anton’s songwriting ability. Here’s hoping they get back to the point where they can hang out and perform together again.

If you’re a fan of either of these bands and haven’t seen Dig!, you owe it to yourself to watch it. Even if you never heard of either band, watch it. Best documentary and in fact best movie I’ve seen in a long time.

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Bastrop’s Lost Pines after the fire – life will find a way…

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Just got back from my first hike at Bastrop State Park since last summer’s disastrous wildfire. I was dreading it, but I have to say I’m more encouraged than I expected to be. The place is still alive. It’s not like it was and will never be again during my lifetime, but in 100 years it will be awesome. That’s a long time for a human, but not such a long time for a forest.

The first thing that struck me was how bright and sunny it was in places that used to be in full shade, and of course there were many burnt trees, still standing but lifeless. It was also a lot quieter than before. Not as many things moving around as before.

Then I noticed how green it was. We’ve had some rain after long periods of drought and there were lots of gorgeous wildflowers. Looking around, there were a few pines with some green needles at the top. I didn’t see them, but was told that seedlings are starting to appear.

Plans are also under way to plant seedlings from an even more drought-resistant strain of loblolly pine. It’s going to come back.

Humans can be so arrogant. We think life is here for us. It isn’t. Life is simply… life. It’s a miraculous stubborn thing that just seems to keep going, despite all setbacks. We’re just a part of that, a much smaller part than we think.

I am continually amazed at the way life adapts and survives. I am convinced that if an asteroid or supervolcano wiped out every living thing down to the bedrock, as long as there were any pockets or caves with living things in it, the globe would be as vibrant and alive in a few million years as it is today.

I even have a crazy idea that when the sun swells up at the end of its lifespan, swallowing up the earth, somehow seeds of life will escape and find a place in the universe where they can take root again. It could be our job to carry those seeds. Maybe that’s the only reason Nature allows us to exist…

And on that note, the forest has had a lot of help from people – dead trees have been mulched, material has been put down to stop erosion. There’s a lot of work still to be done. Life will find a way, but since we contribute to things like wildfires, we have a responsibility to give nature a boost when we can.

If you would like to help make Bastrop State Park and its forest make a comeback, you can vote for the park in a contest sponsored by Coca Cola. If the park gets enough votes, it could win a grant of $100,000. You can get to the site here, or go right to theĀ Facebook app and cast your vote.

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Incan Abraham’s psychedelic world music gives me chills


Songs that make chills run up my spine don’t come along very often. Any band that can make a song like that has my undivided attention. Weeks ago, I heard a song by Incan Abraham called “In Milan” that had that effect on me. And after looking into this band from Los Angeles I found that it was not a fluke.

I like absolutely everything I’ve heard from them. It’s psychedelic pop with a world music influence. I want to say Vampire Weekend on acid or Animal Collective on safari. Hell I don’t know. Just listen to it.

Check out “In Milan” and see what I mean:

Their music is available for free/pay what you want on their Bandcamp page. But you can also order a special hard copy of their latest EP, Ancient Vacation. I did, because I wanted to send a little money their way and have a little collectible. Plus it has an elephant on the cover and I like elephants.

I downloaded everything I could from their Bandcamp page and I enjoy all of it, but Ancient Vacation is the best in my opinion. I like the direction they are headed and think they are going places. I think they would be an awesome pick for next year’s Psych Fest.

Check out Incan Abraham’s website and pay them a visit on Facebook.

I would love to see these guys in Austin one of these days.

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Don’t ‘Stay Away’ from the new single from Ballistic

My Italian producer friend Filippo Gaetani (one half of the international duo SheLoom) just sent me a great song from Ballistic, another duo he formed with drummer Brian McRae. Stay Away is the first song from the group. It features guest vocals from Xiren and John Fishell.

The song can be purchased on Bandcamp for $1. It’s also on Amazon.

There is also a video on Youtube. Check it out:

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Daniel Knox puts out new two-song EP

Daniel Knox, the awesome troubadour with the twisted sense of humor, has just put out a two-song album on Bandcamp. You can listen for free and download for $1.98. The first is funny-yet-dark. The second is beautiful and melancholy. Check it out:

 

I’ve been a big fan of Daniel’s for a long time now as you can see. Check out some of his other works if you haven’t already. I think his albums Evryman for Himself and Disaster are classics.

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