Monthly Archives: August 2015

Taylor Swift “Bad Blood” parody video chastises UK gov for tampon tax

Women are pretending to smoke some tampons in a parody video that criticizes the British government for a “tampon tax.” The video channels Taylor Swift’s now-famous, celebrity-filled video for “Bad Blood.”

“Why’d ya keep bloody taxing us?” says a woman, who just fell on top of a car. Visuals and lyrics in the video include women cutting up thick rugs, using dish cloths, the aforementioned tampon cigars, and more.

They do add some text at the end of the video, performed by Cariad Lloyd and Jenny Bede to explain why they’re pissed off about the tax. It sounds like they have a right to be angry. The VAT (value-added tax) on women’s sanitary products is at 5 percent in the United Kingdom, according to the video.

Things that aren’t taxed, according to the video, include pita bread, men’s razors and crocodile meat. (How is crocodile meat get not taxed??)

If you want find out more, visit Thanks to for posting the painful-to-watch video.

Also, no word yet on how Taylor Swift feels about the change to her video. Watch below — I think they got their message across.

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Filed under Bad Blood parody video, Cariad Lloyd, Jenny Bede, Taylor Swift

Penny Lane: Columbia House, gateway to cheap music, folds. My 12-cent purchases couldn’t save it

Former music mail-order titan Columbia House filed for bankruptcy this week. It’s amazing it’s lasted this long, actually.

It had its heyday beginning in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, offering deals like 13 cassettes for one penny. You had to pay “full price” for music later from them ($6.99 for John Lennon! Whatta deal!) but I gladly paid up.

tumblr_columbia suckers

In 1986, for someone like me — a music-obsessed teen who couldn’t drive yet and had to rely on random trips to the mall to buy tapes at Sam Goody — this was THE BEST. The hardest part for me was picking which 12 or 13 or 15 cassettes I would pick from the little paper list, then waiting weeks for the giant delivery.

columbia house ad2

When I got my loot, I’d pick out the ones I was dying to hear and play those first. I’d get hung up on those releases and completely ignored the B-team of tapes, the ones I was just “eh” for, but which I ordered because I needed to fill the 12-tape quota.

In retrospect, I guess it wasn’t a great deal, unless you want to collect extra music in your house you have no intention of listening to.

Columbia House ad 3

I clearly didn’t know enough about music or the music business to know it was all a marketing game. First of all, only certain tapes cost 1/12 of a penny, and there was a reason for that, but I didn’t think that deeply about it. I didn’t really care at the time– the more new music I could get my hands on, the better. (For more on the business of Columbia House and how it managed to stay on top for so long, visit a story by the good folks at the A.V. Club.)

I remember ordering a King’s X tape from Columbia, but was reluctant to pick it or listen to it; I didn’t know much about them, so I hated to waste one of my 12 choices on them. They’re far gone now but at least I heard music I wouldn’t normally have been exposed to. That’s thanks to that “12 cassettes for a penny” slogan, which has now vanished from the lexicon of music sales. The only time I can get that kind of deal is when I buy the $1 brown grab-bags of random CDs no one wants at Bull Moose Music.

Columbia House peaked in 1996 with revenue of $1.4 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I’m not sure now what other bands I chose now from Columbia House; it’s safe to say there was a LOT. Like most everyone, I eventually gave away a most of my tapes, except for the occasional Bob Marley bootlegs and some alt-rock, Brit-pop stuff.

Once I found out that Newbury Comics existed in Boston, Salem, N.H., and Peabody, Mass., I finally woke up. Besides that, I had joined the REM mail-order fan club in high school (Yes I did, and I loved it) and got all kinds of goodies. This led me to Sub Pop’s mail order and their beautiful selection of punk/grunge bands that hardly need an introduction.

After my music education expanded, I ditched Columbia House for greener pastures. It was the only logical thing to do. You could only get big-label music there, and it just couldn’t compete with the Seattle grunge/alternative craze I was enamored with at the time.

The fact that Columbia House couldn’t face that the cassette-tape biz was was drying up didn’t help them any. Toward the end of Columbia House’s musical odyssey, they were only selling DVDs. Besides that, the business was relying on third parties, having no actual employees.

So rest in peace, Columbia House. Thanks for plugging me in for mere copper.

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Filed under Cassette tapes, Columbia House, Opinion, Penny Lane, Personal memory bank

Joanna Newsom is back with whimsical video, new album “Divers”

It’s been five years since Newsom’s latest music, but she’s back, with a whimsical video and new music on the way.

Watch her new video for “Sapokanikan,” below, which was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. She practically hops and skips along city streets, day and night, her quirky and enunciated vocals hearken to fairy-tale lands.

Photo by Annabel Mehran

Photo by Annabel Mehran

Newsom’s classical background and playful piano melodies lends a mythical air to her music. It’s no wonder the news of an upcoming record would get fans aflutter.

“Divers” will be out Oct. 23 on Drag City.

Divers Track Listing:
01. Anecdotes
02. Sapokanikan
03. Leaving the City
04. Goose Eggs
05. Waltz of the 101st Lightborne
06. The Things I Say
07. Divers
08. Same Old Man
09. You Will Not Take My Heart Alive
10. A Pin-Light Bent
11. Time, As A Symptom

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Filed under Classical, New Music, VIdeos

Royal Headache’s album “High” streaming at NPR Music

Royal Headache‘s new album “High,” is streaming now on NPR Music’s First Listen.

The Sydney band’s operating on a first-name basis with the public – vocalist Shogun, drummer Shortty, guitarist Law and bassist Joe. With the album at only 29 minutes (still longer than their 2011 debut), there’s only so much time to get to know them, but they’ve used that brief period of time wisely.

Their song “Another World” is a barn burner of a punk/mod revival song, and the title track is a plaintive and honest love ballad. The band also ekes in elements of soul that find a home within their punk/DIY sentimentality.

Creating these “slow” love odes that are penned to take off at a dizzying pace just accelerates the emotional roller-coaster you might find yourself on when you hear the album. The members of Royal Headache certainly sound like they’re having a good time on “High,” and we’re all welcome to listen in.

Royal Headache’s “High” is out Aug. 21 on What’s Your Rupture? and on their Distant and Vague label in Australia. The band will be touring with Total Control and Sheer Mag.


Mon. Aug. 10 – Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Tue. Aug. 11 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

Thu. Aug. 13 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop *

Fri. Aug. 14 – Los Angeles, CA @ Origami Vinyl

Sat. Aug. 15 – Los Angeles, CA @ Berserktown Festival

Mon. Aug. 17 – Austin, TX @ Red 7

Wed. Aug. 19 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle #

Thu. Aug. 20 – Detroit, MI @ UFO #

Fri. Aug. 21 – Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar

Sat. Aug. 22 – Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola

Mon. Aug. 24 – Boston, MA @ The Great Scott #

Tue. Aug. 25 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade #

Thu. Aug. 27 – Baltimore, MD @ Windup Space #

Fri. Aug. 28 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA #

Sat. Aug. 29 – Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades #


* w/ Total Control

# w/ Sheer Mag

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Filed under Mod-Revival, Punk, Punk-rock, Streaming

Half Japanese’ EP “Bingo Ringo” spits in the eye of song conformity

When noise-punk, lo-fi grunge band Half Japanese formed in a Maryland bedroom in 1975, Kurt Cobain was only a kid. But by Nirvana’s In Utero tour in 1993, Cobain had sought Half Japanese as openers. And when Cobain died, he was also reportedly wearing a T-shirt with Half Japanese’ name emblazoned on it.

Since its early days, Half Japanese’s influence has spread far, to 90s groups like Sonic Youth and Teenage Fanclub, Neutral Milk Hotel and Daniel Johnston.

Mark Jickling, some guy from Nirvana, John Sluggett, Gilles Rieder photo by Mike Galinski

Mark Jickling, some guy from Nirvana, John Sluggett, Gilles Rieder
photo by Mike Galinski

Brothers Jad and David Fair have always kept the band’s DIY roots over the years. Jad Fair continues to prefer untuned guitars, famously saying, “The only chord I know is the one that connects the guitar to the amp.”

Half Japanese’ irreverence, paired with Jad Fair’s half-singing, half-talking off-beats, leads to freeform lo-fi punk songs that revolve around creature-feature monsters and sci-fi freaks, as well as more standard song fodder such as young love.

With its latest six-song EP, “Bingo Ringo,” Half Japanese continue to upend any conventionalities they happen to run into.

In the fruit-infatuated “Stuck On You,” Fair sings of blueberries, lemon-limes and strawberries — the garden that feeds his puppy-love crush.

“Me and you, and you and me are like peaches in an apple tree…… The pot of gold is ours/bless our f*ing lucky stars,” sings Fair. Slashes of noise-punk guitar bitterness slice through the lyric sweetness.

“I feel his fangs in my neck, there ain’t no way out,” he drones and sputters in “Dracula’s Casket.”

And during the country swagger of the uplifting “New Awakening,” Fair forcefully spits out, “Put more pep into your step,” parodying that overused anthem.

Initially, the EP’s title track might seem bred from cookie-cutter pop blandness, but Jad Fair’s comical spoken-word, grit-your-teeth vocals carry it safely away from Top 40 conformity.

fairjad_large half japanese

With “Bingo Ringo,” Half Japanese sticks to what it does best — playing benign melodies that quickly degenerate into rabid vocals and electric guitar recklessness, the conduit through which funky hooks and infectious melodies are found.

Released July 31 on Joyful Noise Recordings, only 173 lathe-cut records have been made of “Bingo Ringo.”

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Filed under artpunk, EPs, Lo-Fi, Noise rock, Post-punk, Punk, Review

Night Beds releases a helluva good mixtape from the “Ivywild” recordings

I just have to post this right now — Night Beds’ Winston Yellen today released “Strangers In Paradise Mix,” a mixtape of sounds and songs they were listening to “in heavy rotation” while recording “Ivywild,” out today on Dead Oceans.

Drawing on Winston and Abe Yellen’s influences from J Dilla, Bill Evans and others, “Strangers In Paradise” is a mellow, diverse and highly compatible mix of R&B, electro-pop, Motown and hip-hop, with a Kanye West cover of “I Wonder” thrown in. Also sneakily embedded in the mixtape are “Ivywild” B-sides.

Listen to Night Beds’ “Tide Teeth” and “[9-6] slack-jaw” below:

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Filed under Electro-pop, Hip-Hop, Mixtape, R & B

Foo Fighter’s “Million Dollar Demos” leaks on Reddit

Foo Fighters’ early version of “One By One,” what’s been dubbed “The Million Dollar Demos,” has leaked online.

According to Consequence of Sound, 11 songs are on the demo, and 10 were mulled for their 2002 album “One By One”: “Walking A Line,” “Tired Of You” and “Normal,” but just three were released. “Have It All” and “Come Back” were later leaked.

Apparently someone on Reddit released the download link — his only post — visit it here.

“One By One,” is home to their influential hits “All My Life,” “Have It All” and others. These newly leaked versions were reportedly recorded while the Foo Fighters’ were heading for a possible breakup amid strife between members.

“Currently jizzing in my pants” one Redditor commentor writes, over Dave Grohl’s death-ripping scream in “Lonely As You,” a song that varies greatly from the official version, below:

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Filed under Demos, Punk-rock, Rock

Parquet Courts sign with Rough Trade, reveal details on “Monastic Living” EP

Protopunk aficionados Parquet Courts said today they’ve signed to Rough Trade Records and have announced several tour dates to take them through the U.S., Canada and Europe.

They’ve also announced a new EP, “Monastic Living,” with a release date of Nov. 13.

Hopefully more details will be on the way soon, but you can preorder “Monastic Living” here.

Thu. Aug. 27 – London, UK @ Birthdays
Fri. Aug. 28 – Reading, UK @ Reading Festival
Sat. Aug. 29 – Leeds, UK @ Leeds Festival
Sun. Aug 30 – Paris, France @ Rock En Seine
Wed. Sept. 2 – Galway, Ireland @ Roisin Dubh
Thu. Sept. 3 – Limerick, Ireland @ Dolan’s
Fri. Sept. 4 – Belfast, Ireland @ Limelight 2
Tue. Sept. 8 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Debaser Strand
Wed. Sept. 9 – Oslo, Norway @ Blaa
Thu. Sept. 10 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Pumpehuset
Sat. Sept. 12 – Berlin, Germany @ Lollapalloza Berlin
Mon. Sept. 14 – Vienna, Austria @ Chelsea
Tue. Sept. 15 – Zagreb, Croatia @ Culture Factory
Wed. Sept. 16 – Ravenna, Italy @ Bronson
Thu. Sept. 17 – Rome, Italy @ Monk
Sat. Sept. 19 – Athens, Greece @ AN Club
Thu. Nov. 5 – Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
Fri. Nov. 6 – Sat. Nov. 7 – Austin, TX @ FFF
Mon. Nov. 9 – New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
Tue. Nov. 10 – Memphis, TN @ Hi Tone
Wed. Nov. 11 – Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
Fri. Nov. 13 – Denver, CO @ Marquis
Thu. Dec. 3 – Northampton, MA @ Flywheel w/ Pill
Fri. Dec. 4 – Boston, MA @ Middle East w/ Pill
Sat. Dec. 5 – Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace w/ Pill
Sun. Dec. 6 – Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground w/ Pill
Mon. Dec. 7 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Cercle w/ Pill
Tue. Dec. 8 – Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa w/ Pill
Wed. Dec. 9 – Toronto, ON @ Lee’s w/ Pill
Fri. Dec. 11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw w/ Pill

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Filed under Noise Punk, Noise rock, Post-punk, Protopunk, Punk, Punk-rock, Tour Dates

DJ Andrew Weatherall remixes Gwenno’s “Chwyldro”

DJ, producer and remixer Andrew Weatherall has remixed electro-pop artist Gwenno Saunder’s song “Chwyldro” off Gwenno’s recent release, “Y Dydd Olaf” (“The Last Day”).

Gwenno, who was a dancer in her youth and was formerly leader of the Pipettes, sings almost the entire album in Welsh, a language only about 500,000 people in the world speak.

gwenno Y Dydd Olaf album cover

Gwenno has also culled her new music from a 1976 sci-fi novel by Owain Owain, billing “Y Dydd Olaf” as a political-concept album. The record is, at its core, a modern, refreshing take on ‘80s electro-pop and vintage-Cure and Krautrock styles.

Weatherall, as a producer, has worked with Beth Orton and Primal Scream, as well as remixed songs by Bjork, Siousxie Sioux, New Order, My Bloody Valentine and James.

Weatherall keeps alive the astro-rock elements of the original “Chwyldro,” while transforming Gwenno’s voice to a sultry whisper in a song that’s already breathy and dreamy. Weatherall adds frantic synth notes and Indian beats that lead you into Gwenno’s peaceful vocals.

Gwenno’s “Y Dydd Olaf” is out now on Heavenly Recordings.

Listen to the Andrew Weatherall Remix:

Watch Gwenno’s psychedelic/kaleidoscopic video for “Chwyldro”:

You should also check out the vintage sound of Gwenno’s “Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki.” It moves between early Cure via their “Seventeen Seconds,” with a pulsing synthesizer wave; it’s a slower take on the likes of Berlin’s “The Metro”:

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Filed under Dance-Synth, Electro-pop, Kraut rock, Space rock, Synth, Synth pop

Night Beds’ upcoming “Ivywild” streaming now on NPR

night-beds_ivywild wide

The incredible band Night Beds is streaming their upcoming album, “Ivywild,” on NPR.

The startling synth-pop single from earlier this year, “Me, Liquor and God,” promises good things from the new album. It’s the sophomore project by Winston Yellen, who said in May that his first impressions of the “sad sex jams” of Kanye West’s “Yeezus” influenced him on “Ivywild.” We can only imagine how that was channeled.

“Ivywild” is out Aug. 7 on Dead Oceans.

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Filed under Dance-Synth, New Music, Synth pop