Shearwater visit London (about bloody time!), return to Europe in November

(photo above of the Rough Trade East performance where they played Rook from start to finish and I nearly cried like a baby several times)

Having spent 48 hours in the company of the wonderful Shearwater I have learned the following:

1) They are an incredibly nice group of individuals,
2) Jonathan possesses a voice that defies human ability and laws of nature,
3) Tissues are absolutely necessary as losing one’s dignity at a show tends to undermine you in front of friends, esteemed colleagues and complete strangers.

Photos below of the Bush Hall show where the band (and audience) finished up proceedings around the grand piano for a stunning unplugged version of ‘Rook’ swansong The Hunter’s Star:

All photos taken by me. Big thanks to “The Power of Monk” at The Local and Phil Adams at Rough Trade East.

Shearwater return in November for an extensive European tour. Bring a hanky.

7th – Botanique, Brussels (B)
8th – De Nachten, Antwerpen (B)
9th – Tivoli, Utrecht (NL) – w/ Destroyer
10th – Club 106, Paris (F) – w/ Silver Mt Zion
11th – Le Bataclan, Paris (F) – w/ Silver Mt Zion
12th – L’Epicerie Moderne, Feyzin (F)
13th – Palace, St-Gallen (CH)
14th – Le Romandie, Lausanne (CH)
16th – Manufaktur, Schorndorf (D)
17th – Postbahnhof, Berlin (D) – w/ Okkervil River
18th – Beatpol, Dresden (D)
19th – Nachtasyl, Hamburg (D)
20th – Voorhuit, Ghent (B)
21th – Crossing Border, Den Haag (NL)
22th – St Giles in the Fields Church, London (UK)
23rd – Taylor John’s House, Coventry (UK)
24th – Komedia, Brighton (UK)

Finally, A Social Injustice We Can All Condemn

We occassionally have trouble generating sufficient publicity for some of our acts, so I can only sympathize with the plight of a P.R. maven enlisted to try and convince the Hartford Courant to interview her scalper client.  If such businesses can achieve legitimacy through media management, that’s awesome news for loan sharks, cockfight organizers and meth dealers.

Jennifer O’Connor in Omaha – Antiquariam Records

Today is the first day of my 10 date midwest run with Son Ambulance.  Right now I’m sitting at The Old Mattress Factory or The Matt Bar and Grill as it says on my pint glass – eating some fish tacos and looking at 13 different large screen TVs showing baseball and golf.  

This afternoon I visited Antiquarium Records.   I got a used copy of Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House on CD for $4 and I spoke with Chelsea.










JO’C:  How long have you been working here?

Chelsea:  About 3 months.

JO’C:  What did you have for lunch today?

Chelsea:  A bagel.

JO’C:  What’s your favorite place to eat in Omaha?

Chelsea:  Amsterdam Falafel & Kebab on 50th Street.

JO’C:  That’s the 2nd time I’ve gotten a falafel joint recommendation in my 3 times asking this question of record store employees.  Hmm…. 

What’s your favorite local band?

Chelsea:  Box Elders  (Jeremiah of  Box Elders was hanging out behind the counter with his geetar).

JO’C:  What’s your favorite record of 2008 so far?

Chelsea:  Times New Viking!

JO’C:  Yes, I’ve heard of them somewhere.  No, I’m kidding – I love their record too.  To continue the Matador theme we have going here, what is your favorite Matador band of all time?

Chelsea:  Pavement!

JO’C:  Good choice.  

Anything else you’d like to add for the Matablog readers?

Chelsea:  Keep buying records and going to record stores!

JO’C:  Wise words.

I would like to note that this was a charming store with very nice people and lots of vinyl!  When I told Chelsea I was on Matador and what I was there to do, she remarked that she wasn’t cool enough for Matador – that I should wait for the owner to come back because he was cooler.  I just want Chelsea and everyone else to know…that they ARE cool enough for Matador.  Matador loves you.  And so do I.



PS. I’ll be doing some myspace blogging about the shows and such on my, uh, myspace page.

Lethal Bizzle Vs. The Download Festival’s Sophisticated Audience


If I had found it at the beginning of the set, I’m not sure I would have carried on. It was a banana skin, thrown at my feet as I played last weekend’s Download festival. On the outside, someone had written “Bizzle you black cunt”. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Being who I am, I’d probably do it again. I’m pretty sure my DJ wouldn’t though. We’re used to getting looks and things like that when we tour middle England, six black guys getting out of a van, you can see they’re looking at you and getting defensive. That can get frustrating, but you deal with it. This was different. Why did they have to bring my race into it? Lethal Bizzle, Guardian Music Blog, 6/20/08

Fucked Up ‘Year Of The Pig’ EP to come out on Matador and What’s Your Rupture? in July

Matador and What’s Your Rupture? are pleased to announce a joint release: the Year Of The Pig EP from Toronto’s Fucked Up.

Out worldwide on July 22, the EP is an expanded version of the 12″ single released by WYR? in mid-2007 (and by Vice in the UK in early 2008). In addition to the original 18-minute title track and the flipside, “The Black Hats,” there are three edits of the title track and three unreleased tracks. Each edit and each unreleased track will be featured on one of three 7″ singles, each with a different sleeve, to be released in the US, the UK, and Japan respectively.

“Year Of The Pig” is the second in a series of songs based on the Chinese zodiac. It is about the plight of sex workers in Canada. The initial release, and a companion concert, generated $4,000 for a prostitution rights charity in Toronto. Read more about the issues, and the notorious Robert Pickton case, at this blog post by the band. Featuring keyboards, an ethereal female guest vocal and multiple, interlocking musical sections, it is Fucked Up’s most ambitious work to date.

Here is a 256K MP3 of the US edit:

Year Of The Pig (US 7″ edit)” (256K MP3)

Track listings:

12″: Year Of The Pig / The Black Hats
7″ (US): Year Of The Pig (US Edit) / Mustaa Lunta (new track)
7″ (UK): Year Of The Pig (US Edit) / Anorak City (new track — Another Sunny Day cover)
7″ (Japan): Year Of The Pig (Japanese Edit) / For My Friends (new track)
CDEP: All of the above

Fucked Up will be playing three shows in Calgary later this month, and will tour Europe throughout July and August.

Looking For Gold blog

Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and two vinegars

This is another recipe from Ruth Rogers’s River Cafe Pastas book. It’s simple: you remove the seeds and juice from cherry tomatoes, then mash them into a sauce composed of one part traditional balsamic vinegar and two parts wine vinegar, with salt and pepper – it marinates for at least an hour. Cook the spaghetti, drain it, return it to the pasta pot, and add the tomato-vinegar mix and fresh basil and stir over high heat for a minute or so.

It was as yummy as it looks, though somewhat sweet. This might be a function of these particular tomatoes. It could also be my balsamic. Next time I’ll increase the proportion of wine vinegar (which I prefer to balsamic anyway).

World’s Greatest Records Label Vs. Sniveling Ingrates, Pt. III

Reunited, and it feels so good :

Everyone at Victory is ecstatic about the forthcoming album from Hawthorne Heights. It is by far their best material to date. When Victory and Hawthorne started our relationship in 2003 it was always about beating the odds. Our country has just seen and experienced historic change with the Democratic nomination of Barack Obama. Everything happens for a reason and there is tremendous positivity in the air.

We have lived in a reality of petty disputes, unresolved misunderstandings, unhealthy friction and negative sensationalism for too long. Forgiveness and the ability to reunite are powerful gifts. They create a spirit. Couple that spirit with great music and you have something that is extraordinary and transcendental. You cannot change the past but you can affect the future. There is a bigger lesson and story here than just releasing a new album. Victory, and I know Hawthorne Heights, are thankful to be a part of that.

Pt. II
Pt. I

Death To False Meta : Fuck Weezer & Their New Video

While some segment of the rock biz is all agog today over the new Weezer clip —- featuring a myriad of YouTubey sensations (Chris Crocker, Tay Zonday, etc.), I would like to humbly remind each and everyone of you that a musically superior outfit from Sweden has already been there and done that.

Rivers Cuomo might have a Harvard education and share the same surname as a former NY Governor, but he’s never managed to wrangle Jim Varney’s participation in a music video.  Granted, he’s still young, but the rest of pop culture is playing catch-up with The Brainbombs. Why should Weezer be any different?

Hidden Camera Footage From Camber Sands

I’d mentioned earlier that we were hoping to get some reports from Patrick and Natalie about how things are progressing for Jay Reatard and Times New Viking on their first dates in the UK.  Of course, I made this comment without remembering just how difficult it was to obtain an internet connection at Pontin’s Holiday Camp, site of this weekend’s All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival.

That said, while we might have to wait another day or two for their field reports, I’m pleased to announce a mole deep within Barry Hogan’s organization has leaked the following video from Day One.


For the record, I personally believe No Age have other songs besides a cover of “I Shot The Sheriff”, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

It’s An All-Matmos Friday (So Far, Anyway) : New European Dates Confirmed

june 08

6 bristol venn festival
8 london beaconfield gallery
9 london beaconfield gallery with carter/tutti
12 dublin future days festival
15 amsterdam holland festival special program stockhausen mikrophonie
17 berlin festhall kreuzberg with carter / tutti
18 praha archa teatro
19 wienna szene wien
20 lubljana teatro
21 barcelona sonar festival

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare 167 Seconds?

(Tom Scholz — not bad, but he’s no Lee Mavers)

“Don’t get me wrong, slugger,” scolds The Morning News‘ resident efficiency fetishist Josh Allen.  “I love ‘More Than a Feeling.’ But it’s four minutes and 47 fucking seconds long. I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense.”

My scientists told me that the perfect song length had to be closer to three minutes than two, but definitely shorter than three minutes. Three minutes is where bloat starts to set in. Where the band thinks: Hey, let’s do the chorus seven times. Hey, let’s give the saxophone guy a real moment to shine on this one. Hey, let’s add another bridge.

Just look at what clocks in between two and a half and three minutes: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “We Got the Beat,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Paranoid,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Debaser,” “God Only Knows,” and “Fall on Me.” These are not only stone-cold classics but they also encapsulate all that is great about the band without wasting your goddamn time.

The scientists then dug up this song by a group that pretty much defines one-hit wonder: the La’s. The song is “There She Goes,” and is so flawless that it instantly made everything else the band did pointless. This ditty is two minutes and 42 seconds, and is all about songwriting economy.

I listened to it and said, in my rich and sonorous timbre, in my typically concise and absolutely-nailing-it fashion: “Here is a song that has everything I need and nothing I don’t.”

The main riff acts as the intro. The verses are the chorus. The solo is 100 percent fat-free and leads right into a tidy bridge. And then we’re back where we started. It’s like some ingenious IKEA futon or Japanese love hotel where every component is doing double-duty. When “There She Goes” is over, I guarantee absolutely no one in the room goes: “Jesus, finally.”

I’d hit upon the perfect song length. I fist-bumped somebody.

Goose daube

I’ve had beef daube (Provençal farmhouse stew) in restaurants, but never goose. I recently read Richard Olney‘s memoirs about cooking and living and France (Reflexions, and the repeated references to daube made me want to try some. Then I remembered that I own the Poultry volume of Time Life’s The Good Cook series, which Olney co-authored, and sure enough, on pages 60-61, there’s a mouth-watering depiction of a goose daube.

(above: the goose pieces ready to be broiled, next to a comforting bottle of Chateau Figeac which we drank during the prepartion)

The ingredients are somewhat daunting. In addition to a fresh goose that has been butchered (the breast cut into 6 pieces), you need several sheets of pork rind and two calves feet, cut in half and then split lengthwise so that they will release their gelatin more easily. The goose pieces are then placed on a rack under the broiler for 20 minutes to reduce the fat – a good 4 cups came off. The pork rinds, calves feet, and goose pieces are then layered with chopped carrots, shallots, onion and a bouquet garni including a piece of scraped, dried bitter orange rind, in a daubière. I didn’t have a daubière (they’re hard to find and quite expensive) so I used a heavy enameled casserole. You fill the pot up with white wine (I used a Faiveley white burgundy), bring to a boil, and then cook over low heat “at the slightest suggestion of a simmer” for 5 hours. This took me to 3 AM, at which point I left it to cool and put it in the fridge.

(above: some of the pork rind)

(above: the layering process)

(above: adding the wine)

The next day I removed it from the fridge, skimmed off another tremendous quantity of fat, and slowly re-heated it – Olney recommends an hour and a half, so that the goose pieces don’t disintegrate. Some of the fat-juice is ladled off for the “inevitable accompaniment to daube” which is macaronade, essentially macaroni with parmesan cheese and a ladelful of daube juices. We also served some freshly shelled English peas.

French food is really made to accompany wine: the actual meal is the combination of the two, not one or the other. Olney’s menus are included in his book, and get more insane as he got older. A typical one from a meal he served Aubert de Villaine (of Romanée-Conti) in 1981 – and I swear I really did open the book at random, included Champagne Krug 1973, Chevalier-Montrachet (Niéllon) 1978, a magnum of Domaine Tempier rouge 1964, the great Rauzan Ségla 1900 (!), and Monbazillac 1874 for dessert.

We settled for a nice Coron 2003 Gevrey-Chambertin followed by a couple bottles of affordable Bordeaux, then a $9 Salice-Salenterno, and a bunch of digestifs. Hmm, going the opposite direction pricewise from Olney. Not to go all tangential, but this is a perennial problem in serving wine: start with the best or the worst? Comments, please.

And the daube: well, the goose meat was falling off the bone, more mildly flavored than I expected. The broth was really brothy and not stewy, and I’m not sure if that was right. Perhaps I needed more vegetables, or maybe I didn’t get the slightest suggestion of a simmer correct. I do have 2 pounds of calves feet in my freezer, and 2 massive pots of goose stock made from all the parts that I didn’t use in the daube, so I suspect I’ll revisit this topic.

The Voice (& Rhythm Section) Of A Generation Diagnosed With Mysterious Hand Condition


(l-r : Joanna, Janet and Stephen, pic courtesy SG, T-Wolves Blog)

I don’t know exactly which gang signs are being flashed here, but imagine what Randy Foye could do on a regular basis with this kind of support?

Also, there’s no truth to the rumor after the game, Kevin McHale tried to swap the Jicks’ rooting interest to Danny Ainge in exchange for a copy of ‘Bark Along With The Young Snakes’.

Green chilli chicken (or green chile chicken)

I’ve posted about this dish before, but it’s my habit to keep cooking dishes I enjoy until I really understand them. Plus no pictures last time.

This is another recipe from my favorite Indian food region, Kerala. More specifically, it comes from the centuries-old Jewish community in Cochin, a religiously tolerant city that was an independent “princely state” under the British and only joined the rest of India in 1947. Not many Cochin Jews still live there, apparently, since they’ve migrated to Israel. This was a Sabbath dish, and was collected by Madhur Jaffrey from the Kodar family for her 1985 cookbook, A Taste Of India (which is her best so far as I’m concerned).

I said this chicken wasn’t spicy when I made it before; since then, I’ve kicked up both the cayenne and the green chiles and it’s far superior. The basic flavor is bitter from the chiles, then sour from the tamarind, and finally sweet/salty from the chicken… with the herbal aromas of the curry leaves.

As with many Keralan dishes, you start by sizzling the curry leaves (highly aromatic, slightly bitter leaves of the kari tree, nothing to do with Indian “curries”) in hot oil. You then stir and fry shallots, garlic, ginger and green chiles in the curry-leaf flavored oil until browned (above).

You then take a swig of a modish, Eric Asimov-approved Loire non-classified red such as Le Cousin.

You then add tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes! I used crappy off-the-vine ones from the supermarket – you know, the ones that look good and have zero taste. I would have done better with canned San Marzano. Though I think the main role of the tomatoes in this dish is to add color and acidity, so it’s not a big deal.

Now add the chicken. Good chicken is a must! In this part of this country, your best bet is Murray’s. Far superior to Bell & Evans. Of course, if you live near a farm or a good green market, you may be able to better still. For Indian food, chicken is always skinned, so that the meat absorbs the flavors of the sauce better. The bone is always left in, which of course adds depth and intensity to the flavor. You do have to hack the unboned pieces up so that they’re about half a thigh (as above), and a cleaver would be ideal for that, but I don’t have a cleaver so I use my chef’s knife. I need to get a cleaver.

You saute the chicken briefly with the shallot-chili-tomato mixture, plus salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper, add water, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once during that time. The picture above is from the stirring once, so about halfway through. Click on the picture to peer deeply into the pot.

Finally, you add some MORE slivers of green chile, cover again, cook for 5 minutes, and then add some tamarind which you have earlier marinated and strained… this is the sour element. You then cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes to reduce. I serve it with basmati rice and a pungent vegetable dish.

A Quick SXSW 2008 Recap So Far

Greetings to the 1% of the american entertainment industry that isn’t in Austin this week. My apologies to those of who weren’t allowed to run away and join the circus, but look at the bright side : you get to watch the college basketball conference tournament games without anyone forcing a can of Monster Khaos energy tonic down your gullet.

While some of your weary & bleary friends from America’s 2nd or 3rd Most Beloved Rock Independent Label are getting close to nap-time, I’ll quickly summarize just a few of the highlights of SXSW so far :

1) Excellent sets from Yo La Tengo, Shearwater, Times New Viking and Jay Reatard
2) a Tommy Keene sighting on 6th st. (no gigs this week, sadly)
3) the ruination of one of my most beloved black tees courtesty of lots of curry ketchup and sauerkraut (what, you thought I’d be blogging about REM?)
4) The guy who asked me if the Matablog “was gonna be all about food from now on?” (see above)
5) the following murderers’ row of killer performances : Tyvek, The Marked Men, Fucked Up, Pink Reason, Home Blitz, Trixter, The Distant Seconds.

6) Fucked Up’s Father Damien (above), doing his best to stop any possible Tabitha Soren comeback.
7) Scott Templeton making his rock journalism debut under the pseudonym, “Jim DeRogatis”.

More news to follow. I’m told Patrick’s on a panel about vinyl siding tomorrow, and we’re planning on a 4-camera shoot of the event. Matador’s first Blu-Ray disc?  Keep your fingers crossed!