RIP: Joel Burrows of The Thermals and The Minders

RIP: Joel Burrows of The Thermals and The Minders

From The Portland Mercury (via Pitchfork):

Following the report of Portland musician Blake Mackey’s death, I have more unfortunate news to report. Today seems to be an unspeakably sad day for Portland music.

Joel Burrows, longtime local musician and fixture of the Portland music scene, has passed away. Burrows performed with many Portland bands and was a talented multi-instrumentalist, playing drums for the Minders and guitar in the Thermals, among his contributions for many other bands. In early 2011, Burrows was struck by a van as he crossed the street and suffered a serious head injury. He spent following months in the ICU and fought valiantly for his life. Burrows made substantial progress and was able to leave the hospital to live in an assisted living facility for people with brain injuries. […] I learned today that Burrows has passed away; he fought bravely for his life for many months and made unforgettable contributions to Portland music. Condolences to his family and friends. He will be dearly missed.

• The Thermals:

YACHT turn 10, blow out candles, throw celebratory concert, sell TV show to Amazon

Happy birthday, YACHT! You are 10. Soon you will be going to middle school. Before you go and do that, though, you might as well have a birthday party. As is customary in your family, you will have your birthday party in Los Angeles at The Echoplex on December 8. Your party will feature material from all eras and lineups of YACHT, as well as special guests, party favors, prizes, and surprises. Or so I’m told.

Not only are you turning 10, YACHT, you can also celebrate the creation of your first comedy television program. I know, it’s hard to believe; it feels like just yesterday that you didn’t have a comedy television program. Your program is called Support and you have developed it as a web series for Amazon Studios. In fact, you didn’t just develop it, you’re also writing it. All four members of YACHT are writers on the show.

Support focuses on a band’s life on the road, giving some people the idea that maybe, just maybe, this show is loosely based on your experiences, YACHT. In fact, the members of YACHT gave the following statement about the show: “For the past three years, we’ve imagined our lives on the road as a TV show. In many ways, a tour is a perfect analogue to an episodic series: there’s a central cast of characters, recurring locations, absurd scenarios, and new conflicts to resolve every day.” Why did I just tell you what you yourself said, YACHT? Why am I telling you any of this?

YACHT date:

12.08.12 - Los Angeles, CA - Echoplex (10th Anniversary Show)


Three Legged Race announces first full-length LP Persuasive Barrier; two legged race continues its lazy, bipedal existence

Album art doesn’t usually sway my musical expectations one way or the other, but when the creative mind behind so many downright amazing covers announces the release of a full-length solo LP, it’s difficult not to raise the bar a little higher than its default setting. The two art forms are basically unrelated, but you know, whatever. Appreciate my unreasonable assumptions, damn you!

In an interview with TMT earlier this year, Robert Beatty remarked on his general artistic philosophy: “I’m trying to just take everything I like and mix it together to create something new and exciting. Confusion is sex, and I will continue to hide behind the curtain so people never quite know what’s happening.” The alluringly obscure nature of Beatty’s visual work should be self-evident, but what about the auditory side of things? His band Hair Police fits neatly into the “noise” category. By contrast, and in keeping with his promise to elude expectations, his solo Three Legged Race project represents something much more subdued and melodic, but captivating nonetheless.

On December 3, Three Legged Race will release his debut full-length LP (though certainly not first release) Persuasive Barrier, courtesy of Spectrum Spools. The album was recorded over a period of five years, and was driven by (according to Pitchfork, and like the rest of Beatty’s work under the moniker) the use of a Realistic Concertmate MG-1 — the synthesizer built by Moog for Radio Shack in the early 1980s. Relatively cheap equipment aside, the title track (which you can listen to at the Pitchfork link above) sounds both thoroughly promising and appropriately mysterious. Dare I say, it might just be the musical equivalent of an egg oozing telephone-shaped pink goo. Pre-order the LP here.

Persuasive Barrier tracklisting:

01. Traces of a Wet Crowd
02. Permethrin I
03. Persuasive Barrier
04. Magnetic Bride
05. Butter Colored Hallway
06. Locked Eyes
07. Budgeting Air
08. Permethrin II

• Robert Beatty:
• Spectrum Spools:

EMI and Universal announce layoffs. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m starting to suspect that the music industry is maybe in a little trouble.

As Jerry Lee Lewis would probably put it if he worked for Tiny Mix Tapes as a shiftless and unpaid news intern in late 2012 but was still simultaneously a 1950s entertainer-par-excellence: “there’s a whole lot of layoffs goin’ on!” LOL, doesn’t that sound like a great song? I wonder where I can download it for free on the internet!

But seriously though: Lewis had better keep his crappy newswriting dayjob, because Billboard recently announced that Universal Music Group is currently hard at work consolidating its music distribution companies and its Nashville country music labels. After Universal’s merger with EMI got approved last month by a joint committee of Satan, John D. Rockefeller’s ghost, and that smog-villain guy from the movie Ferngully, Billboard’s sources said that nearly 60 employees were shrewdly unit-shifted to unemploymentville, including nearly 50 from EMI distribution and almost 10 from EMI’s Nashville office (a few Universal Music employees were jettisoned at the time as well). Even bigger wigs like EMI senior VP of sales John Nicholas and EMI East Coast field sales chief Joan Kane were re-shuffled by UMG into a senior catalog guy and Capitol Records label liaison, respectively, which confusingly combines the stress of being fired with the elation of being hired and probably resulted in some pretty interesting bowel movements. Meanwhile, EMI’s head of distribution and best bocce ball player Dominic Pandiscia has migrated to head of sales for Capitol Records, where he will reportedly have on his staff Blue Note’s Saul Shapiro and Astralwerks/Capitol’s David Miller. I know — I was worried about those guys too!

Unfortunately, those who escaped the firing squad for now aren’t even totally in the clear yet. Some members of the EMI distributions staff were told they would only have their jobs “for another 30 to 120 days,” according to sources in both the EMI and UMG sources. Obviously, those staff members will work as hard as they can for the company in the meantime.

“Following our acquisition of EMI Recorded Music, UMG will be expanding key creative areas as part of our ongoing integration,” read a Jack Donaghy-esque statement from UMG. “While this restructuring will unfortunately result in some redundancies, it is essential to UMG becoming an even more agile and efficient company, not just for this year or the next, but for years to come. Our goal is to maximize the resources available for reinvestment in our labels so they can do what they do best: develop and promote artists, increase the output of new music and expand opportunities for digital innovation.” I think that was Ebeneezer Scrooge’s goal, too, wasn’t it?

• EMI:
• Universal Music Group:

[Photo: Joy Kennelly]

RIP: Hans Werner Henze, German avant-garde composer

From The Boston Globe:

German composer Hans Werner Henze, whose prolific and wide-ranging work included a wealth of operas and 10 symphonies, died Saturday, his publisher said. He was 86.

Henze died in the eastern German city of Dresden, longstanding publisher Schott Music said in a statement, calling him ‘‘one of the most important and influential composers of our time.’’ It didn’t disclose the cause of death.

Henze’s work over the decades straddled musical genres. He composed stage works, symphonies, concertos, chamber works and a requiem, and once said that ‘‘many things wander from the concert hall to the stage and vice versa.’’

• Hans Werner Henze:

Loren Connors & Suzanne Langille take you to art school on new LP interpreting the paintings of M P Landis

Remember in grade school when you’d go to a museum for a day, and then you’d have to write a poem about a painting, or a song about a mosaic, or whatever? Well, now underground legends Loren Connors and Suzanne Langille are taking a field trip and releasing an LP based on the paintings of Brooklyn outsider artist M P Landis for Northern Spy Records. Connors has released over 50 albums at this point, and has work archived in the Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi. Langille, his life partner, is a vocalist who has appeared on a number of Connors’ best albums through the years — more on that here — and her own debut album (with Neel Mugari) Wild & Foolish Heart was finally released in 2010.

This newest project, called I Wish I Didn’t Dream, came about through Connor’s association with writer and WFMU DJ Kurt Gottschalk, who was writing text and choosing paintings for a book on Landis. Connors and Gottschalk were like, “Hey, what if this book had a soundtrack?” And magic happened! An album concept was born! (Also check out our Cerberus write-up of the accompanying 7-inch.)

The birth of said album occurred in Jason LaFarge’s Seizure’s Palace studio, where Swans recorded My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky and Brian Eno’s Ambient 4: On Land was engineered and mixed. Connors and Langille watched slides of Landis paintings flash on the wall and then improvised until this, their first album as a duo in 14 years, sprung to life.

To celebrate, Northern Spy is throwing a party at Brooklyn’s 285 Kent on November 13, with sets by the Lee Ranaldo/Alan Licht/Ryan Sawyer trio, the Tom Carter/Pat Murano duo, projections by Martha Colburn, and of course, Loren Connors and Suzanne Langille.

I Wish I Didn’t Dream tracklisting:

01. My Skin Is a Membrane
02. La Belle Dame sans Merci
03. Come with Me
04. Come On, Come On
05. Shenandoah
06. Just Find Your Shoes
07. I Wish I Didn’t Dream
08. I Don’t Know
09. Gotta Work
10. Still Bound
11. It Will Only Continue
12. Cease to Do Evil
13. Keep Breathing

• Loren Connors:
• Suzanne Langille:
• M P Landis:
• Northern Spy:



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