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Time for a guest review from one of our Big Takeover staffers, of a recent local show. More of this to come!
Maps and Atlases/*mewithoutYou*
Maxwell’s. Hoboken, NJ 7.18.08
by Jeffrey Silverstein
I had been waiting for the chance to see technical wizards Maps and Atlases for a long time. Maxwell’s seemed relatively empty when they took the stage at 7:30. I suppose most were there to see the spiritually fueled boys of mewithoutYou, who have never disappointed me live. Many speak of Maps and Atlases as your run of the mill math-rock band, citing comparisons to Don Caballero and Hella. While there is obvious influence drawn, they offer a lack of cockiness seemingly unheard of amongst other finger-tapping crazed bands. Despite the bands technical prowess, they are not showy in the slightest.
The most impressive part is their ability to weave such strong hooks and harmonies into their outrageous guitar and bass lines. Singer Dave Davidson paused at least three times to thank mewithoutYou for having them on tour and everyone for being there. It was nice to see hear such humble words come from an outrageously talented band. His quirky vocals shined through on “The Most Trustworthy Tin Tans” and “Every Place is a House.” They switched effortlessly between songs from their first and more chaotic release, Tree, Swallows, Houses? and the rather tame, pop-tinged You Me and the Mountain. Live, they prove their skills are not products of effect pedals and ProTools and drummer Chris Hainey uses an array of tambourines, vibraphones, giving them a distinct sound.
As soon as mewithoutYou took the stage, the crowd became a bit rowdier. I was pleased to hear them play a few new songs featuring front man Aaron Weiss on acoustic guitar. Aaron seemed much happier and relaxed than most other times I had seen them. He danced wildly through songs off of Brother, Sister including “A Glass Can Only Spill What it Contains,” “O, Porcupine,” and “In a Sweater Poorly Knit.” mewithoutYou are a lot of fun to watch. There live show is so compelling, almost unexplainable until you see them for yourself. The loss of long-time member and impressive guitarist Christopher Kleinberg has not slowed them down at all. In attempts to end the show on time, they simply pulled their shirts over their faces while the crowd screamed for one more song. They finished with the highly energetic “January 1979” and ended with a new one called “God, God, God.” Fans should be relieved to know they have plans to record the follow-up to Brother, Sister.
Just a reminder, too, if you haven’t listened in yet, my radio show for BreakthruRadio.com successfully launched, and again, here’s a good chance to hear a good bit of what I/we have been writing about in our issues these last 28 years, albeit I’m restricted to playing only releases that have appeared on independent labels. (Fair enough, it just limits the ability to play a lot of great ‘20s-’70s heritage music, since the overwhelming bulk of those recordings are controlled by majors—but there’s still plenty of great music left over.)
Four or five of my most recent shows are easily heard at
www.breakthruradio.com—just scroll down on the “Breakthru DJs” button until you find my name, click on that, and then click on “recent shows.”
And then listen in at your leisure! There will be a new show at noon every monday, and there are other fine DJs on the station.
One can also subscribe to the show via Apple itunes c/o the ‘sign up for btr broadcasts’ link at that top of the page, or by doing a search on the itunes podcast subscription search engine. All of your show archives will be stored on the station next to my “DJ profile” and there is an itunes subscription link right there.
And let me know how you like the music I have selected for you and chatted about on the show.
And also once again, if you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a repeat of that quick note I posted before to let you know that that very Big Takeover issue #62 with R.E.M. on the cover is on the stands! Look for it in your favorite store near you that carries good music magazines! Below is a slightly longer description of its contents than what I sent previously, with some good quotes from the issue!
If you want to subscribe or renew, just go to our secure online Yahoo store (and feel free to indicate which issue you’d like to start with, issue 60 (SHINS cover), issue 61 (NEW PORNS cover). Or the new 62 (R.E.M.). It’s only $20 for four issues (save 23% off the newsstand price including average sales tax), or $32 for overseas. Or, for those in the U.S. you can send us a check made out to “Big Takeover” for $20 to the following address:
The Big Takeover
1713 8th Ave. Rm. 5-2
Brooklyn, NY 11215
Finally, if you are a subscriber and you need to update your address, please tell us by email. Send updates to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And remember, BIG TAKEOVER ISSUES, BACK ISSUES, T-SHIRTS, CDS, AND SUBSCRIPTIONS ALSO MAKE THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY OR FATHER’S DAY GIFT!
Here is what’s in the issue:
R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe (cover): “I think that future generations will look back on this time in American history, it will be as foreign to them as slavery is to us. So I’m 48 now and I’m looking [back]; we were right in the middle of women’s liberation, we’d just come through Civil Rights, and I was in an environmental science course in seventh grade talking about pollution and how we’d gotten into this mess, and how we can easily get out of it with alternative energy sources. And we were going to change the world, and guess what? It didn’t happen!”
Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten: “You’re brought up to believe music is all this way, and if you don’t do it that way, than it’s not musical. In The Sex Pistols, we really had to form our own world. And when we finally heard it in the studio, the thing was, we were racked with self-doubt, and we didn’t think we were good enough to put even our own record together. Steve, all of us, would say this. But the thing was, once you’re given that microphone, I’m not [expletive] letting go of it until every single thing I’ve written is fully understood, and completely clear, and I don’t mind then the bad singing as much as, ‘Well at least I sound like I mean it.’”
Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten: “And the violence against us too! And it’s [expletive] hard to play anywhere! I mean ferocious hate, because we were so not of the norm. And the music industry from the ‘60s in England had become settled in itself, and very smug, very clear about what they considered “music.” And we broke all those rules. If they were smart, they’d’ve just ignored us. But unfortunately there was that lyrical content that couldn’t be ignored!” [Laughter]
New Pornographers’ A.C. Newman, Pt. 2: [On Canadian rock vs. American:] “I really can’t see any difference. People are the same wherever you go, you know? People always want to know about Canada, because of the Canadian rock explosion…Arcade Fire, and all. I have nothing to say about it… We’re just like you.”
Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell: “Today I woke up feeling like such a schmuck; like I finally had a second to get some personal writing time, and I didn’t do [expletive]. I miss having a day alone just to sit and write, and lose my mind on that stuff. It’ll happen. It’ll have to happen, because if that stops, then I won’t have a song to record!” [laughs].
Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws: “I used to work at an investment bank, Bear Sterns, from 1 AM to 9 AM for three years—the graveyard shift. It was a horrible job. It paid really well, so it paid for rehearsals and recording. You had the bankers hanging over your shoulder at five in the morning and they never seemed tired. I don’t think they were doing speed or anything. I think it was the smell of money, or something.”
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (Pavement): “I was a big fan of R.E.M. for sure. In the mid-‘80s they were a revelation to me to get away from American hardcore, being into Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. Echo & the Bunnymen were there, but R.E.M. was off on their own, kind of at the top of the class. They were similar to some of the paisley [underground] groups like Rain Parade and Green on Red, but they seemed to be kind of self-contained.
Ray Davies (Kinks): “I think America is more aware of its position in the world, and, let me get this right, how it interacts with the rest of the world. It’s not such an isolated place to be. Before, America was the whole world to people that lived here, and never traveled from here. But now, it’s absorbing other cultures and at least being aware and being sensitive that there’re other cultures.”
Ray Davies (Kinks): [On being shot in America:] It’s such a complicated issue. Because before that incident, I was thinking of settling in New Orleans. I had been visiting from time to time, and was going to rent somewhere, or even buy somewhere. I think I should’ve taken [pauses] a complete change in my life. These things come as a warning, these random events in your life, sometimes—to stop everything, just go off.”
The Pointed Sticks, Pt. 2: “The thing was, in Vancouver at the time [late ‘70s], the entire punk rock scene was no more than 200 people, most of whom were in bands. And we’ve talked about it since we’ve been coming back and doing interviews, but the Vancouver music scene and the Vancouver art scene were absolutely inseparable. There was all these guerrilla artists doing all the same sort of stuff as we were at the time. They came to our gigs, we went to their shows, they designed our record covers, etc.”
The Pointed Sticks, Pt. 2: “You know the funny part about that [old] gig was that when we finished we got into the Young Canadians van and drove up Langley to see Chuck Berry play a free show at a car dealership that day. So two free outdoor shows in Vancouver on the same day. Except Chuck got 25 grand for his and we got nothing for ours; that was the big difference!” [laughter]
The Flyboys’ Jon Boy: [On David Way’s car crash death, 1978:] “Some young guy had taken a big dual axle truck out from his father’s business or something, and threw a bunch of kids into the back, and they were all partying, and he ran a red light… [pause, still moved] I felt awful. And David was the mature one! We were a bunch of stupid kids, and he was the one who held it together. We floundered without him for a while. I think that’s why The Flyboys didn’t go on to anything big.”
The Flyboys’ Jon Boy: “That cliché in the Woody Allen movie [1977’s Annie Hall] where they show Paul Simon as the record company guy in L.A.—that’s what it was like. They just wanted to throw the punk rock guys out of the party. They were still signing these singer-songwriter acts that could get nobody to show up at a Roxy showcase, and down the street, The Screamers were selling out night after night, and couldn’t get a record deal.”
Paul Haig of Josef K: [On Josef K’s breakup:] “It had been brewing for a while. I was getting more and more despondent with touring and playing live. We were growing apart as individuals and we weren’t having as much fun anymore. We were starting to go through the motions, and that was something we had said from the beginning that we would never do. We always said that we would stop when it wasn’t great fun anymore.”
Paul Haig of Josef K: “I was drawing a lot lyrically from Franz Kafka, Albert Camus, Knut Hamsun, all the lightweight stuff [laughs]. When we came up with the idea of using the name of [Kafka character] Josef K, it seemed very apt. It encapsulated a lot of what we were about. We didn’t feel we fitted in with a lot of what was going on.”
Rock Writer V. Vale (Search & Destroy, RE/Search): “Negative dialectics! That’s, in general, a good attitude to have. I like what Vivienne Westwood had to say: ‘Popular culture? There’s no such thing. If it’s popular, it ain’t culture.’ I agree with that, because pop culture is fake culture; it’s like a big corporate culture that’s blasted at you from every billboard. It has nothing to feed your soul.”
Rock Writer V. Vale (Search & Destroy, RE/Search): [On funding the first issue in 1977:] “Allen Ginsberg was in town and I hit him up. The manager of City Lights [San Francisco bookstore] somehow knew I wanted to publish a punk magazine, so he told me to ask Allen, since Allen would give money to anyone! [laughter] I’ve heard that’s really true, that he gave countless startup money to people. I took the $100 check to [City Lights owner] Lawrence Ferlinghetti and then Lawrence immediately wrote me a check to match it.”
Top 50 Reggae LPs, Pt. 1!: “Reggae has since kept me company the last 29 winters. ‘Winters?’ you ask. Starting in the late ‘70s, I caught up on the year in reggae around early November, when new pop releases ceased. So with no Delta 5, XTC, Magazine, or Jam records to purchase, I gravitated to the infamous Jamaican rhythms. I still equate winter with reggae listening, whether playing old records or filling in missed gaps (and there are many, still) via reissues. Over the years, I have delved even further into reggae’s treasure chest, discovering gems missed either to oversight or lack of availability. Reissue labels such as Pressure Sounds, SoulJazz, Blood and Fire, Mackasound, and Heartbeat have salvaged much great music, while also compiling many hard-to-find singles.”
British Sea Power * My Morning Jacket * Built to Spill * Radar Bros. * Kelley Stoltz * Nardwuar the Human Serviette/Evaporators * The Trolleyvox * Helvetia * The Carter Administration * Awesome Color
Rabid: Hey, I’m a Dad!*Musings * Ackerman: More Changes for Record Labels * Sommer: On Hawkwind!
Agent Orange * Avengers * Big Star * Cat Power * Editors * Stevie Jackson * Maximo Park * Mission of Burma * Naked Raygun * New Model Army * Emma Pollock & American Music Club * Rogue Wave * Sleepover Disaster * Spiritualized * T.S.O.L. * Mary Weiss * Astrid Williamson * X * Neil Young * Zombies (original lineup reunion) * Plugz/Eyes/Controllers/Skulls/Gears/Crowd/Deadbeats/Dogs etc.
Hundreds of CD Reviews
Antietam * Black Watch * British Sea Power * Dead Boys * Death Cab For Cutie * D.O.A.* Nick Drake * Echo & the Bunnymen * For Against * Flying Burrito Bros. * Robert Forster * Idaho * Julie Ocean * Kevin Kane * Nyles Lannon * Claudius Linton/Joe Higgs * Long Blondes * Eric Matthews * Colin Meloy * Bob Mould * Willie Nelson * New Model Army * New York Dolls * 999 * Pagans * Posies tribute * Ramones * Raspberries * Red Button * Jimmy Reed * Replacements * Edward Rogers * Ruts/Henry Rollins * Secret Shine * Shack * Simon & Garfunkel * Sloan * Smiths * Chris Walla * Wedding Present and more!
Hope you all buy it, and/or hope you subscribe, as that is still by far the best way to support the print magazines you love if you want them to keep going. It means a lot to them!
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