My SXSW Roundup :

Here are my SXSW picks:

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(photo by Kathryn Yu, used without permission, taken from The Rich Girls Are Weeping)

1. Shearwater playing at the Central Presbyterian Church. With a Steinway concert grand, the audience in pews, and acoustics to die for ("the best sound I've heard at a rock show in years," said an industry veteran to my right). Some audience members were crying. This was one for the ages.

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2. In total contrast, Jay Reatard at the Victory Grill. Jay had been up for 3 days straight and was angry. The oversized bassist in the faded Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt was angry too. They were hurling nearly full cans of bud into the audience, directly at moshers' faces. The sound was perfect. The experience was genuine. Actual punk rock like I have rarely seen since the mid-'80s.

The other shows are in no particular order:

The Ponys – Emo's, afternoon show
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(TNV at Sound On Sound, Saturday afternoon, phone cam pic by Gerard)

Times New Viking – Exodus, Friday night
Clockcleaner – Exodus, Friday night
Some Montreal punk band, Long Branch Inn, early Friday evening

Sorry for the Matador-centric picks… inevitable when your bands are playing 17 gigs in 4 days, you spend a lot of time seeing them! But of course it helps that they're all great, too.

Dead Meadow speaks: report from the recording studio

Story and pictures from Steve of Dead Meadow

At the time of writing this paragraph we are in Sunset Sound recording our fifth studio album, third for Matador Records. Sunset Sound is definitely haunted by lots of history. Appearantly the ghost of Jim Morrison walks the secret storage rooms and echo chambers in the fifty-year old studio on the Sunset strip. A vibe and energy to this place that is totally unique and hopefully and energy that can color our new music. Even more than the vibes we have received in this sound temple was that of the energy and evp noises captured indiana.jpgduring our tracking a month earlier in Indiana. In trying to reach out to our more atmospheric side we returned to our drummers families farm/estate in rural Indiana. The natural setting and a chance to "get away from it all" that first brought us there to record "Howls from the Hills" took us back again for this creative endeavor. Instead of tracking in the barn the fall weather forced to move the operation into the nearby original inn/farmhouse that was the basis of the property. For years abandoned (his grandparents who own the land have always lived in a newer house they built on the other side of thefarm) the house was recently rebuilt to be used as a guest house project by our drummers uncle.

A totally empty, beautifully restored and warm farm house was definitely a gwell.jpgreat place to spend the next few weeks tracking the basic instruments. His uncle added some beautiful features that added to the sound and ambience. A huge greatroom with fourteen foot tall ceilings were perfect for the drum sounds. Old cuboards and closets were great isolation rooms. Even an architectual old well was built into the new kitchen floor. Instead of covering the well up with the new construction instead they covered it up with thick glass in a light at the bottom, a perfect reminder of the building past in the now modern updated kitchen, only if you did not watch "The Ring".

The location was perfect but the only problem was the constant haunting issues along the way. At first we did not think of it but as it became consistant there is hidden Evp sounds on some of the guitar sounds and buzzing bits. Even a violin noise from no where and walking when no one was upstairs. Luckily we were recording so we plan to throw some of the sounds on the final piece. I guess it will be something for the heads to trip out to. To add icing on the cake of the story we found out that the last renters of the home that were there before renovations or even Howls were recorded broke their lease do to apparitions. These guys were park rangers and one of them even pulled his gun on hand prints walking towards him in the carpet as he laid in bed… I hope the energy will come across and maybe the good vibes of our music helped this home. I always felt a good vibe even with the weird noises. I like to think as if something was there it was just trying to have it voice on the record.. like "I can play something too."

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the "haunted" vaults above Sunset with tons of old reels (Zippedoodah, Disney stuff and maybe a lost Doors reel????)

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Studio shot.

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my favorite… basketball in the Sunset courtyard.. onthe left is Studio 1, the right Studio 3 and the photois taken from Studio 2..

— Steve Kille

Time In, Time Out for The Queers

A recent post on unrelated bulletin board reminded me of a genius New Hampshire band with a long history, The Queers. They finally rose to national prominence in the mid-'90s and released a bunch of albums that I haven't heard since then. But their early work is sui generis, and the high point is probably the 1984 EP 'Kicked Out Of The Webelos.' I can't remember whether I have this record somewhere, so will hold off on paying massive buckage to obtain it from eBay or similar. Hunt it down.

And read a fascinating history and discography of the early Queers by Boston character Mr. B.

Yes, We Know The Bulletin Board’s Down

Yes, we know the bulletin board’s down. I received 2,428 automated emails about it between 7:34 PM and 12:19 AM Eastern tonight. One is generated every time someone tries to view a forum or post. If nothing else, it shows how popular our BB is.

We have notified our server admin and hope to be back up tomorrow morning. Nothing is likely to happen tonight (or this morning for those of you in time zones further east).

First Chavez MP3s posted

The first Chavez MP3s have posted (all are the remastered versions from the upcoming box).

For those new to the band, check out “The Guard Attacks/Unreal Is Here,” tracks 2 and 3 from 1996’s ‘Ride The Fader,’ now tracks 2 and 3 on the second CD of ‘Better Days Will Haunt You.’


For fans who might have missed the 1995 CDEP, check out the awesome “You Faded,” one of the non-album B-sides from the ‘Pentagram Ring’ EP, above… now track 13 on the first CD of the new box.

All songs can be found at the link below.

http://www.matadorrecords.com/chavez/music.html

New Burma MP3; discographies updated

We’ve posted a second MP3 from the astonishing new Mission Of Burma album ‘The Obliterati.’ Entitled “Donna Sumeria,” it’s in many ways a departure from any work they’ve done before (and most of the other songs on the album). It was not included in the ‘Punctuate’ 12″ series and therefore was not streamed on htttp://www.obliterati.net either.

Check it out on the Burma music page and let us know what you think (or better yet, just go buy the album – you’ll thank yourself):

http://www.matadorrecords.com/mission_of_burma/music.html

On another site update note, Nick has posted ultra-complete discographies for most of our active artists. Check the Matador Bulletin Board for the notices of which ones he’s gotten to so far, and post there to let us know what releases we’ve missed (or post here). Or just surf around the site to check active artists’ discography pages. Nick’s done great work, but this is something you can definitely help us on, especially when it comes to non-Matador releases. Thanks in advance.

Here’s a question: does Matablog replace the Matador BB?

And if not, why not? I mean, even if you don’t have blog posting privileges (which presumably you regular posters could apply for), you can always make comments to blog posts. And none of you are.

So… what’s the difference? What’s the value to Matador the label, and its artists, to maintain a lightly moderated BB and a heavily (or at least more) moderated blog on the same site? What purposes do each serve? Please respond (and your response will not be edited, I promise.)

Eagerly awaiting answers and participation, eagerly promoting (we don’t hide beind “coolness” here) current albums from Matmos, Mission Of Burma, Brightblack Morning Lght, and upcoming new releases from Jennifer O’Connor on Aug 22, Yo La Tengo on Sep 12, Chavez comp on Oct 10, and Pavement Wowee Deluxe in November… let’s see some action guys. Or why are we here? What purpose does the BB serve? What purpose does the matablog serve? I wanna see reponses from tinobeat, bitterfuit, Lukas, Maximo, vesper, 9000, Mr. HCI and all the regular BB posters. Is the blog too “corporate” and “controlled” for you? How about some comments at least???

Patrick

Headphones and headphone amp

People are always asking my advice about audio equipment. A great way to get started is to pump up your headphone system. iPods and laptops have crappy little op-amps in them that can’t drive good phones accurately or to truly satisfying levels. I recommend the Grado SR-60s for rock in the under-$100 range, or if you have broader taste in music, the Sennheiser HD-600s (which list for $499 but can be found online for as little as $179) which are much comfier to boot. Both these phones are large and open; closed and noise-cancelling headphones are good for planes but little else, and personally, I can’t stand putting things inside my ears.

Then there’s the whole amp game. Without getting into huge amounts of detail, you need a LOT more power to drive Sennheisers than Grados, and a lot more power again to drive electrostatic headphones such as the AKG K-1000s or the legendary Japanese Stax line. However, even a little solid-state amp like Grado’s RA-1 ($349) will improve your Grado headphones to an extraordinary degreee. And it’s made of a solid block of wood – who can argue with that?

Myself, I prefer tubes, and have recently invested in the handbuilt custom amps from Singlepower, based in Colorado… incredibly nice guy, but beware of the prices. I got a fully tricked out Singlepower MPX3 Slam and it is blowing my mind. (And probably eardrums, but that’s another story.)