St. Vincent’s absolutely breathtaking new album begins, as Annie Clark’s previous albums have, like some unearthly musical. Clark seemingly touches down from another planet, asking “am I the only one in the world?” on opener “Rattlesnake” amid all manner of alien guitar and strange percussive squelches. “Birth in Reverse” similarly paints a vivid picture, starting with the lines “Oh what an ordinary day … take out the garbage, masturbate.” “Birth in Reverse” explodes into an extraordinary, paranoid chorus of restless glee. Clark’s way with words has never been more cutting, as on “Prince Johnny,” which manages to be strikingly specific while keeping its deeper existential meaning vague (“Remember that time we snorted/That piece of the Berlin Wall you extorted?” is her best rhyming couplet yet.) Even her ballads bite—“I prefer your love to Jesus” is a thoroughly loaded line repeated on “I Prefer Your Love,” giving depth and conflict to what’s on the surface a beautiful, Kate Bush-inspired love song. Musically, Clark employs everything from decaying choruses (“Prince Johnny”) to hip-hop synths (“Huey Newton”) to Prince-esque atonal funk (“Digital Witness”), but it’s a remarkably cohesive listen, as though each element has been thoroughly considered and sanded down to perfection. As implied by naming her fourth album simply St. Vincent, it’s an album that seems to be about truly knowing oneself—or the thrilling discoveries that come with a lifetime of seeking that knowledge.
Our What's In My Bag? crew had the pleasure of shooting an episode each with Michael Ivins and Kliph Scurlock of psychedelic alternative rock band The Flaming Lips. Definitely a must see for Lips' fans.
Michael Lee Ivins (pictured in the blue shirt) is the bassist and founding member of The Flaming Lips. The band originally formed in Norman, Oklahoma with Wayne Coyne playing guitar, his brother Mark Coyne on vocals, and Ivins handling bass duties. After several years of crafting their sound, The Flaming Lips broke into the mainstream with their 6th studio album, Transmissions From The Sattelite Heart (1993), spawning the hit single "She Don't Use Jelly."
In March 1999, The Flaming Lips were gearing up to tour in support of their album, The Soft Bulletin. The band hired Kliph Scurlock (pictured left in purple shirt) to do some heavy lifting as a roadie. Scurlock remaind on tour with the band until 2002 when the Lips were doubling as an opener and backing band for Beck. In an effort to enable multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd to play lead guitar, Scurlock was asked to play drums during the band's run with Beck. Subsequently, Scurlock went from touring drummer to full-time member and remains with the Lips until this day.
On this day in music history: June 18, 1966 - "Hold On, I'm A Comin'" by Sam & Dave hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for one week, also peaking at #21 on the same date. Written and produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, it features Booker T. & The MG's providing instrumental support. At first, the duo are not fond of the song, feeling that the title and lyrics are too "corny and hillbilly." In fact, on the finished record, Sam Moore can be heard laughing out loud when Dave Prater sings the lyric "I'm on my way, your lover, if you get cold yeah, I will be your cover." Released as a single in March of 1966, the song will quickly rise up the charts, becoming their first R&B chart topper and first top 40 pop hit.
On this day in music history: June 18, 1967 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience will make their now legendary American performance debut at The Monterey International Pop Music Festival. The band will be booked to perform on the recommendation of Paul McCartney, having seen Hendrix and the Experience perform at the Saville Theatre in London two and a half weeks earlier (opening their set with The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"). The bands' set at Monterey will climax with Hendrix setting fire to his Fender Stratocaster and smashing it on the stage. The performance will launch Hendrix into rock superstardom in the US and worldwide.
Sundaland Cafe, taken during my set
This time around I was to play in three different shows. The biggest by far was an opening DJ set for the legendary Joe Bataan. The budget for this tour was much smaller then past tours. There was to be no hotels and I took the train to most places. My friend Shin Miyata, who has released several of my albums on his Barrio Gold/Music Camp label, was my host for the tour. We stayed at his apartment while he tended to Joe Bataan, who also has a few albums on Music Camp.
DJ Swamp "Invasion of the B-Girls" (2011)
Ever since DJ Swamp first arrived on the music scene in 1996, when the unique long-haired turntablist with an affinity for setting his turntables on fire in his performances took the national DJ battle title of USA DMC Champion (his first year in the contest!), he has remained both an ever-engaging figure and a most prolific artist. Over the past dozen-plus years, the Cleveland-born/West Coast-based turntable artist/producer/vocalist has been mad busy consistently performing live (both solo and with others; many first got introduced to him as Beck's DJ) and recording a slew of solo projects, including his excellent Never Ending Drum & Bass Loops album series and many other DJ skratch tools vinyl releases (all self-released on his own Decadent Records label). DJ Swamp has also collaborated with or made cameos for a long list of other artists including the likes of his old touring mate Beck, Kool Keith, RL Burnside, Devo, StickY fingaz, Kid Rock, Crystal Method, BT, Hanson, Richard Humpty Vission, The Bloodhound Gang, Morcheeba, Ill Kid, The Dandy Worhals, and Faithless.
Most recently, the DJ has been especially prolific cranking out music videos and, having released the new album Vinyl Disciple earlier this year, a new series of videos to accompany this rock-tinged, hip-hop/electro/breakbeat driven skratch album. Just last Friday, he unleashed the above video for the new album's song "Invasion of the B-Girls," which comes hot on the heels of numerous other music videos he made this year, including "Rock Rollin," the new album's title track, and "Pyro," which were all completed in the past few months. Today (Wednesday, August 17th) he is shooting yet another music video! This one is for "Feast of Flesh," also off the new Vinyl Disciple album.