underground since'89

send vinyl, tapes and zines for review to:

tobi vail P.O. Box 2572 Olympia, WA 98507 USA

email mp3's, links, photos and flyers to:


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Olympia: Save The Loft on Cherry

On Wednesday November 24 there will be a meeting at Bicycle Records to Save the Loft on Cherry

From the Press Release:

The Owner of Fishtail Ale is currently pursuing buying out the remainder of the Loft on Cherry's 5 year lease with the goal of tearing out the floor and using the extra space for beer storage.

This meeting is open to anyone interested in preserving the Loft as a community space for arts and events.

The meeting will be facilitated with an open agenda.

bring healthy snacks

Art Kitchen / Bicycle Records Office
508 Legion (across the hall from the loft)
Olympia, WA

Vote for yr fav female fronted band!!!

MR ET is asking for yr input for his BUST column on new female-fronted bands. The comment section is going crazy!!! Olympia represents! WEIRD TV!!!!! Vote for yr fav here

Sunday, November 14, 2010

K Zip Pack: The Hive Dwellers

K Records is doing a cool subscription-only MP3 series called the K Singles Zip Pack. Check it out:

The K Singles Zip-Pak is a series of downloadables available exclusively by subscription. The songs are drawn from our upcoming hardcopy releases like the International Pop Underground series of 7” records, the Dub Narcotic Disco Plate singles and the regular album releases and show up in your in-box as MP3s. A year’s subscription to the K Singles Zip-Pak means hundreds of new favorite songs, six or more weeks ahead of their regularly scheduled street date. It’s a noisy pop rockin’ overdose: no post-rock, no Dad-rock, just endless screaming, crying and carrying on compressed into bite-sized chunks of three minute pop songs. Passionate music for passionate people, the K Singles Zip-Pak features the latest in K MP3 delectability, new songs by Chain & the Gang, LAKE, Karl Blau, the Hive Dwellers, Strange Boys, Jeremy Jay, and so many more. Subscribers hear the songs weeks before the rest of the civilized world has gotten an inkling of what the future has in store because the K Singles Zip-Pak is the future, in a neat pak-ette.

I like the idea a lot but keep forgetting to write about it. You get a link to click on, download your songs and then drag it into yr music playing program. It's easy to kind of forget about it until one of the songs randomly plays and you are like, "hey wait, what the heck is this?"...call me old fashioned, but I'm still in the mindset where a record is a tangible object you hold in your hand.

This week I got a few MP3's by Calvin Johnson's latest act, The Hive Dwellers. I was listening to the song Lazy Mondays and thinking, hey what does this remind me of? I was like oh yeah, The Go Team song Three Ways to Sunday and then I remembered that in the late 80's The Go Team tried to have a monthly subscription series of 7" releases and how stressful it was to get all the records out on time and in the mail. I think the MP3 world makes this idea a more doable project. It just took the world 21 years to catch up to Calvin's idea! He is a visionary after all!

I wonder if this kind of thing will catch on. It's a good idea and cool to see independent record labels getting creative, thinking of new sustainable ways to distribute music that actually benefit the artist.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Black Flag Beat Happening flyer

someday I'll tell you the story of when Black Flag played at the Tropicana ...and the legendary standoff between Calvin and Henry...I used to actually have it on tape...I promise to get my scanner working after film festival and start updating my jigsaw scrapbook and archive

New Mecca Normal 7": Malachi b/w Blue Sky & Branches

here's another new record I look forward to hearing:

From today's edition of the Mecca Normal newsletter:

Malachi b/w Blue Sky & Branches – part of the International Pop Underground singles series. Malachi is about free speech and anti-war activist Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006).

Mecca Normal is launching our 7″ by inviting bands to cover Blue Sky & Branches at their shows in the months of November & December. We will post videos of cover versions on MySpace.

Olympia Film Festival: Nov 12-20

Full Schedule available here

My picks for the rest of the weekend:

Saturday November 13th

6pm Decline of Western Civilization Part 1 (1981, Penelope Spheeris) Q&A with director

8pm Decline of Western Civilization Part 2 (1998, Penelope Spheeris)Q&A with director

10:30pm The Need & The Gossip Live Show

Sunday November 14th

10am The Great Muppet Caper (1981, Jim Henson)

4pm Cinema of Transgression: The Films of Nick Zedd
Part 1 110 min: They Eat Scum (1979), Thrust in Me (1984), Police State (1987)
Part 2 98 min: Electra Elf: Of Lice & Men (2005), Electra Elf: No Plague Like Home (2007), War is Menstrual Envy Excerpt (1992), Whoregasm (1998), Smiling Faces Tell Lies (1995)
Q&A with Nick Zedd

7:30pm Destroy All Movies!!! w/ Zack Carlson and Bryan Conolly

7:45 Ladies and Gentleman the Fabulous Stains (1982, Lou Adler)written by Nancy Dowd

9:15pm Times Square (1980, Allan Mayle)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wild Flag Live at Northern 11/10/10

Wild Flag played their first show ever at Northern last night. I was psyched to see four seasoned musicians breaking new creative ground. When I was watching Mary and Carrie play guitar I realized it has been a long time since I've seen women playing music together at this level. Not only are they both great guitarists, they each have their own distinct style and sound. No one in this band plays their instrument quite like anyone else. Plus they have melodies and harmonies AND they totally fucking rock. Lots of great singing too!

Mary Timony used to play in Helium, has made several solo albums and before that was in the early 90's DC prog-punk band Autoclave, who made a great pop record that came out first as a demo tape, then a 10", and now is available on CD. She has been one of my favorite guitarists for years. I had always been a fan but the last two Helium records blew my mind and there have been long extended periods of time when I've listened to nothing but The Magic City on repeat. It was super great to see and listen to Mary play guitar with Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), who also has a unique way of playing based on a signature chord style and a percussive note-driven approach. Of course Janet Weiss didn't stop playing drums after Sleater-Kinney and is currently playing at her very best, she may very well be the best drummer out there today, in my humble opinion (and notice I did not say "best female drummer", which she is often credited as). Her beats are solid and driving yet she never loses her grip on a song, always moves it forward and releases tension in the right places. Her fills are fluid and don't drop out or make the song lag, which is a problem for lesser skilled drummers who hit as hard as she does (myself included here) she has her chops up and it is a real pleasure to have the chance to see her play. I don't know Rebecca and am not familiar with her musically but she also sings and played really well with the group, providing solid bass and keyboard ambiance.

Carrie's voice has never sounded better. She is singing from a stronger place and sounded fucking rad. Mary has a beautiful, haunting voice and I look forward to being able to hear it better as she was a little quiet last night. She is one of my favorite singers, there is a truly magical, intimate quality to her voice that just slays me every time I hear her sing, both live and on record. Janet and Rebecca also sang a lot last night, giving the group a solid chorus, which they are exploring with harmony and interweaving vocal lines.

Wild Flag clearly have some good songs already (though I couldn't make out lyrics and sometimes guitar work was difficult to pick apart because of the acoustics in the room) and I am totally looking forward to hearing the records they make together. They were great last night and they are just going to get better. It's very exciting to see women my own age starting this new musical chapter in their lives. They are taking chances, working hard, collaborating and giving it their all. Super inspiring. A fantastic show.

Grass Widow Past Time

I haven't written about Grass Widow yet, partially because their last record, Past Time, was released by Kill Rock Stars (my work) and it's sometimes hard to figure out the line between "promotional writing" and criticism.

When Past Time came out, I noticed a lot of critics tried to lump them into a category that exclusively contained other contemporary all-female bands that I didn't think they shared much in common with other than gender. This is one of the curses of being in an all-female band. While there is a feminist aspect to it as well, your audience tends to only hear your music in relation other all-female groups, which can be unfortunate because there are many ways to listen and in Grass Widow's case, so much to hear!

Grass Widow are like The Raincoats or The Minutemen or even The Melvins in method, meaning they create their own formalistic, aesthetic universe with its own internal logic. They don't sound like they are following anyone's rules at all. They sound like they are listening to themselves and each other and creating their own musical language. The bass often sounds like a guitar, the drum beats are unique and expressive, the guitar playing is personalized and fresh. They use dissonant notes in their melodies and complicated rhythms, but their music feels driven, it doesn't fall behind, there are hooks and there is a solid dynamic. The tension in their songs build and dissipate and build again like Virginia Woolf's writing in The Waves. The singing weaves all of their voices together, creating lyrical complexity. Varying points of views, ideas & impressions linger.

Their aesthetic can be viewed as an argument for multiplicity. There is no "lead vocalist" or front person, they are a group. When three voices are equally amplified which one do we listen to? In philosophical pluralism, multiple subjective perspectives are said to create a more complete picture of reality. In other words, "the truth" is more fully realized when many truths are expressed. Grass Widow is expansive in a similar way. Because of this, reviews that compare them to The Dum Dum Girls or whatever seem particularly offensive in their reductionism. So do statements that describe them as a "surf-band" or a "garage band"...it's like, huh? Is anyone listening to this record?!!! It actually requires some serious effort to take it all in. It's psychedelic in its layers and thought-provoking in content and strategy...not easy to categorize or digest but a joy to listen to.

Past Time is slowly turning into one of my favorite records of all time. It's not every year that a record this good comes out. I urge you to take some time with their songs and check out these videos. They are all totally awesome.

Here's a FREE MP3 for Shadow

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wild Flag

Tonight at Northern Wild Flag

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is the new record I am most looking forward to hearing right now

Leslie Keffer Give It Up LP

Have you heard it yet? Is it good?

600,000 Bands

I realize that yesterday's post might sound kind of like an apocalyptic solemn death knell march, when really there is a humorous side to all of this, that Felt Letters 600,000 Bands discusses, listen here...it's actually very funny, you'll probably want to get your own copy

Monday, November 8, 2010

Q: How rad is the new M.O.D.'s 7"?

A: Fucking Rad!

check it out here

What does it all mean?

My current musical crisis…is that there are a lot of bands that sound good to me….like Tyvek or Weekend or whatever…the first Crystal Stilts LP for example… Sic Alps...but it's not enough, something is missing like The Comet Gain song says.

The recent revelation that Moe Tucker is a spokesperson for the Tea Party means the VU style floor tom/bass drum pounding beat is no longer the sound of the revolution to my ears. I'm playing drums and I'm hearing Fox TV bullshit suddenly. It's disorienting.

Ever since that whole preppy/African trend happened in indie rock, the question is no longer "is this band radical or complacent" in my mind, but "could this band actually be made up of right wing, racist republicans"? And with "gentrification punk" and the boutique-y/cupcake climate spreading like condos, is it really enough to make a cool sounding record? Was it ever?

I remember thinking about this the first time when Pavement were popular in the early 90's. It's not that their music was bad (some of it was good I thought) it was that they didn't seem to stand for anything. Then I saw Clinic in the late 90's and I really thought it was over. This band sounded cool, sonically referenced Wire and other great post-punk guitar bands I love, but they seemed to mean nothing, they didn't matter. Or at least not to me.

So now when I hear a record I like, I don't know, I just don't really care as much as I used to. I want to know what the lyrics are, who the people in the band are…what does any of it mean to them? So they like Joy Division, the first Jesus and Mary Chain LP…so do I. But do we have anything else in common? I find myself asking people "do you think this band votes, are they liberal or conservative?" and then I'm like, what the fuck...it's the mainstreaming of indie rock...I mean whatever happened to real political discourse...I miss the anarchists and socialists of my youth. And it feels like cultural appropriation...or like something has been taken away in the buying and selling of independent music...the context changed.

So this suspicion cumulated into a general distrust of today's independent/underground music scene. And I'm back to listening to punk/hardcore again. There's a cool local punk scene and lately it's been awesome to see a lot of girls/women getting involved and starting bands (have you heard The Hysterics demo??? Hell Woman? Blood Bones? Weird TV?!!! Son Skull???), but punk has to matter too. At least the people in the bands have to believe in what they are doing. Does being in a band mean anything to these kids or are they just killing time until they decide to get back to their "real lives" or whatever? I don't want to be some old geezer who is like "when I saw Black Flag or The Wipers" bla bla bla like a nostalgic Bruce Springsteen song about nostalgia, but seriously, where is the sense of purpose? What does it mean to be in a band right now? And if your band is an exception to this climate, by all means send me your demo! My ears are dying for it. In the meantime I will be over here listening to Mecca Normal and Comet Gain and trying to write songs worth sharing with you.

But of course even when things get bleak there are musical moments to get us through…in the past few weeks I saw Weird TV play a great show at a house party, walked a few blocks and saw Joey Casio perform his poetic revelry to punk perfection. Last weekend I saw a pretty cool sounding band called Dragging an Ox Through Water (pdx). Helll (Tokyo) also played, a drone/noise band in the vein of Deerhoof/The Punks, though not rocking at all, they were contemplative and sounded interesting. Then Tara Jane Oneil played a mind blowing set, an improvish/loop station-y droning soundscape of abstract shit, interrupted by a stunning cover of The Rainbow Connection (Kermit!!!!!??!!!). She ended the show with a cool rendition of her song Dig In, where she threw bells and shakers out into the audience and we were all stomping in time with the amazing Danny Susaki on drums. Seeing these shows was great fun and reminded me that what I like about living here is that there is a community of people who play music and support each other and it doesn't have to be "genre specific" or closed-minded at all. You can go see different kinds of shows and get something out of it. Part of what is rad is that it's not consumer based, everyone participates.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Wild Flag on Wednesday and The Need/The Gossip at The Capitol Theater on Saturday. I know that music matters to these folks and I'm sure that music will mean something to me for those few fleeting moments and this is still what I hold on to and live for when I'm trying to come up with new sounds.

What means the most to you? It means so much to me!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nov 5 Oscar Grant protests in Oakland, 152 people arrested

Yesterday people gathered in Oakland to protest a two year sentence for Johannes Mehserle, the BART cop who shot and killed Oscar Grant.

152 people were arrested.

Here's some footage to give you an idea of what happened.

Nov 5 Oakland, "We are all Oscar Grant" protest footage

7:20 pm Oakland, minutes before arrests start happening

7:40 pm Oakland, "This is a crime scene". Police threaten to arrest media if they do not leave & start arresting the crowd of trapped protesters.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rye Rye and M.I.A. Sunshine/ U.S. Girls Red Ford Radio

This is my favorite song right now and it's not underground but I'm glad because I want everyone to hear it like it's the beatles or the rolling stones so it is still a part of jigsaw fanzine

May I suggest listening to Buzz Chant by U.S. Girls right after this song? or how about this one instead:

Actually if this was a mix tape I'd put Red Ford Radio on as the first track, followed by Sunshine xo DJTV

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Deadline was an early 80's DC punk band made up of four teenage boys. Brendan Canty (Fugazi, Rites of Spring) played drums. Peterbilt (Guy Picciotto's label) released a rad limited pressing Deadline 12" in the early 90. This footage captures teenage hardcore boys in public at an awkward stage (notice the singer's unfortunate par-for-the-course insecure/homophobic jab at his friends in Insurrection) but this band is actually really great and I was happy to see this live after all these years!


Meltdown is a DC band of all teenage girls from the mid/late 90's. This is a Super 8 movie that documents their radness. Their voices, the words, the weird way they play guitar...this is the sound of a secret society of girls....making their own kind of sense. I love this group and am so happy this footage exists!

Monday, November 1, 2010

guitar madness

Elisa Ambrogio

Marcia Bassett

Patti Smith

Lauren K Newman