Author Archives: Matt

Wolfing Out

If there’s one sure thing in the life of anyone in a band, it’s that you’ll eventually see all your friends’ bands break up.  It’s sort of the indie-rock equivalent to when other adult-aged people see their friends go through divorces and get promoted to management positions and other real-life things.

One of the stalwarts of what seemed like a steamrolling noise-rock scene in mid/late-2000s just packed it in recently.  You may have groaned at seeing their name in your local alt-weekly a few times – AIDS Wolf?  Chances are you never got past the name, and I probably can’t blame you.  But still, there they were – a pretty great band from Montreal that pursued an unabashedly Arab on Radar-inspired wall of dissonant guitar howls and epileptic screams.  My band played with them once or twice and they were super nice offstage (for real) and some awesome people to meet.

AIDS Wolf – Tied up in Paper

A little while ago, the band’s singer, Chloe Lum, posted some thoughts about it all in a thing titled “End of an Era.” It put forward a number of interesting thought-nuggets about creativity, integrity, artistic purpose, and how come it seems like things aren’t great anymore for anyone trying to pave their own weirdo way.  Keep in mind that they’re from Canada, so watching their artistic support network disappear must have been even tougher for them, given that they actually had one to begin with. The post has several passages worth nothing that go from informative to heartfelt to straight up whiny (not being critical – the thing is basically grappling with some emotions about quitting a band, so whining shouldn’t really be off-limits, right?).

Many of our peer bands had either disbanded , or stopped/seriously slowed down on touring. “I’m in debt and can’t afford the time off work anymore” they’d tell us, or “I want to start a family / go to grad school / get an adult job”. “I can’t face another empty room, it’s futile , pointless , ridiculous , demoralizing”. Same story everywhere and no surprise, we were getting older and so were our friends and what’s marginal at 20-something becomes much more so at 30-something or 40-something. But beyond many of our cohort moving on, there where significant changes in what was deemed “underground,” what could get booked where and under what circumstances. It seemed that as a bunch of 30 somethings in an extended van full of big amps and a loud as hell P.A. had become an anachronism.

True. Though, to be honest, this sort of thing seems like it may have been an anachronism from the very beginning. In economics-speak (which I know basically nothing about), it seems like the market has kind of been saturated ever since those of us who were in middle school when grunge blew up illogically convinced ourselves we had punk cred. We hit the road in tour vans because it seemed like we were born into it. But is it weird to feel surprised when the generation starts to grow up and feel like the thing is pointless when we realized there are thousands other bands trying to do the same thing?

Wait HOW MANY bands have already used this mic today?

On the other hand, lamenting the size of everything, while it might be accurate – 1,500 bands go to SXSW every year to prove it – is kind of unfair to a band like AIDS Wolf. It speaks to a lazy acceptance of some kind of nightmarish utopia where everyone’s suddenly on the same footing.  Socially, it’s cool that everyone gets along more now than ever, but I’d rather not pretend that your cousin’s laptop pop band or some tenth-generation alt-country group is somehow in the same boat with this kind of thing. I’m not saying that “difficult” music and confrontational/oddball stage presence automatically means a certain kind of music is to be taken  more seriously or affords it a little more consideration – definitely not – I’m just saying it’s weird that it’s assumed to have all the same kind of constraints (lost in the crowd) and opportunities (hey you should try licensing that song!) as everyone else. It’s nice that we all grab food from the same taco truck in the morning, but come on now.

AIDS Wolf – Spit Tastes Like Metal

One of my favorite memories from festival land is the night I crawled my way downtown to the old Knitting Factory in New York after a week of CMJ bands softly begging to be checked out, to be blogged about, to have their pictures taken, to get invited somewhere (anywhere!) with free drinks, and to see KRS-One. AIDS Wolf was playing on the big stage at the Knit as part of the Lovepump/Panache/Skin Graft showcase, and oh lord was it the greatest, nastiest, coarse-grain scrubbing ever. Other bands from that show: Ruins, Japanther, Apes, Made in Mexico, Old Time Relijun, Pre, HEALTH, Monotonix, Yip-Yip. In all their ugly glory, this collection of bands seemed like the total opposite from all the kindly music industry reverence that seemed to go down in every other spot in town that week, and it was glorious. Was it glorious in a calculated, this-is-our-role-here kind of way? Aw, don’t be so cynical.

So no, I wouldn’t blame the dwindling ability of bands like this to succeed on the fact that there are millions others like them. There really aren’t.

Moving on, there are some interesting logistics details that bring that vague suspicions that cross-border touring into real focus – Lum says that their US touring visas (I don’t even know what those are) doubled in price and came with new requirements like needing paperwork on shows six months before the show. Given that this band was still doing a fair amount of DIY shows, you can imagine the absurdity in that.

They did finally get their tour together, though. Here’s how it went:

Then the actual tour happened, where by the time we had played to less than 5 people several gigs in a row, being a scroungy jammer seemed less like a fun hobby / challenging art practice and more like an exercise in humiliation. At at least half the gigs, the opening bands would split right after playing, without even acknowledging our presence. In New Orleans, attempts to chat with one of the opening bands got us eye rolls.

Well that sounds like it sucked.  In the end, I’m wondering what else you can expect? I’m an American and raised under the ideals of capitalism and Puritanical “try try again” kind of ethics, so whenever I’d face shows with like five people at them, my instant reaction was always that it’s my fault.

Does the world of underground rock owe AIDS Wolf their continued support? Maybe we’re sick of it and don’t want to hear it anymore. Maybe we just forgot about them while trying to track millions blog posts about other album releases, st(r)eaming tracks, video teasers, and Twitter feeds, and our own “vibrant local scenes.” But at the same time, anybody ought to be sympathetic to a crew that had a dream, saw it build momentum to a pretty thrilling peak, and then just saw things inexplicably evaporate.

As it stands, we’re in the middle of billion bands not making money and still not going away, for better or worse. Maybe it means that we all assume they’re all interchangeable – why invite AIDS Wolf to your town to play when you can just have the local garage rock band play? That’s sad.

Maybe the whole thing of hoping to sustainably run amuck playing music all over the continent was a ridiculous one to begin with, fueled by insane accounting by record companies (and bands as well, who all maintain their own definitions of “breaking even” as long as they can) and the artists that they propped up with flimsy but convincing careers. Maybe all us creative types are just kidding ourselves when we think we deserve a little something for ever having going down this avenue in the first place, especially the ones knowingly making music seemingly designed to as a caustic attack on anything people might accidentally like.  What  services are we really providing society?!! Toward the end, AIDS Wolf recently switched course into something maybe even less popular appeal – playing around with modern classical approaches and techniques. I’m not gonna lie – I didn’t get a copy of their new album, Ma vie banale avant garde (and worse, totally missed the last show on their tour in Boston). But it seems like either an admirably desolate path to go down (wait a minute, aren’t all self-respecting indie rockers turning to classical music now?) or a calculated career suicide. Either way, it seems like the kind of thing that’s harder and harder to justify outrage about not making a living off of. Is that wrong? Maybe this poor kid’s mom has a point:

What Music Worth, According to My Mom

In the end, hopefully there are still a few people who make a real racket and are industrious enough for a little while to take it out to people in far-flung locales.  Even if they have to get a real job later on. You can tell they’re psyched.

Blame the Soundguy: Why Do Bands Sound So Awful on TV?

Proof that there are sound checks on TV.

It’s basically been the worst year ever for live bands on TV, right? It seems like some poor band sees their career blow up in their face every week on some soundstage or another. I mean mostly the one at SNL, but the opportunity is there everywhere you look.

The issue could be any of a few things. Fledgling bands with no actual talent wilting under the pressure of national TV (the grumpy old man argument)? Bad vibes from trying to act like a live band in a TV studio? House band heckling you? Or maybe the sound mix just realllllllly sucks.

I can maybe buy the first thing about new musicians (talent-ed or -less) getting all nervy and weird knowing that you’re going to be zapped into the homes of millions of people who don’t care about you that night. Or even that you’re performing while standing a few feet from seasoned pros who are 100 times better at music than you, like the guy who replaced Kevin Eubanks. But the bigger problem might be the sound. To my very modestly trained ear, it seems the sound is . . . not great?

Check out this recent performance by Sleigh Bells on SNL, which can kind of be summed up by: “barf.”

Here’s the recorded version of the song:

Sleigh Bells – End of the Line

I know, it’s a rough band to start on. Now as far as Sleigh Bells go, few bands are as dependent on really specific recording conditions (ie. blown-out tracks across the board) for their sound as they are, and so you can imagine how they might fall on their face when those conditions are taken away. Instead of everything in the red, we have a couple of digitally fuzzed-out guitars panned hard and sounding tiny and a wimpy drum beat that might as well be coming from an old Casio sitting beside the cameraman. Then there’s Alexis Krauss’s falsetto, which makes so much sense when it’s smashed and amped up on record, here just huffing and puffing all over top of the mix.

But it’s not just Sleigh Bells. A lot of the major shows have been having these issues for years now, and while it’s the hyped artists like Lana del Ray and Kanye West that get slammed the hardest for it, probably because their appearances mark the first chance lots of disconnected people have to judge them, regular old rockers and dinosaurs don’t go unscathed. Sir Paul McCartney endured/survived/forced upon us an epic stinker of a night on SNL back in 2010 (whatever, it was still kind of fun), and I even found myself feeling sorry for Chickenfoot during a particularly flat, slappy, wonky, poopy-sounding performance on The Tonight Show.

So what’s the deal? We can safely presume that people are getting paid to make it not sound like this right?

It seems like the short answer is that a lot of these stages and recording systems have just been victims of cut corners. SNL, Leno, and Conan’s brief run on The Tonight Show in particular seem to have some major issues with reflective surfaces, high ceilings, poorly thought-out studio construction. Conan’s new TBS show seems to have figured things out – maybe it’s the padded cell walls they hung on the bandstand?

TMBG on Conan, January 2012

I talked to guitarist Drew O’Doherty (from all kinds of bands, though his latest album is here) about the time he was on Conan playing with Ted Leo back in the day (nine years ago, actually), and he had nothing but great things to say about the experience:

Soundcheck was pretty laborious at the old Conan show in NYC. We loaded in real early in the morning and must’ve run through “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” a dozen times. Between soundcheck and the taping, we were invited in to hear the mix and give our input. When we met the engineer, she was A/B’ing her live mix with the Hearts Of Oak CD. She did a great job, using the album version as a reference for mixing. I was pretty impressed with her attention to detail.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a higher quality version of that performance available online. It may be hard to tell, but the audio mix itself was pretty spot-on. At the time, I heard from all kinds of folks how impressed they were with our mix on that show, since live rock bands so frequently sound like crap on TV. Maybe we just won the lottery with that particular engineer. I wish I knew her name so I could give her credit!

Of course, I’ve also seen/heard countless bands sound terribly mixed on various late night shows. I was at the JAWBOX one-off taping two years ago and was shocked to hear how unrepresentative the broadcast mix was. Sounded massive in the room. Not so much over the airwaves.

That feeling is echoed throughout the internet in small nooks and crannies where people really care about this stuff. O’Brien’s Late Night crew is consistently praised. But there always seems to be that feeling of, “Why doesn’t it sound as good as it did in the room?”

Here’s where the post breaks down a bit and becomes a total “This Would Make a Great Story with More Research” kind of a thing (note to prospective editors!), but still – what I’m here to report is that there are some interesting discussions going on online about this stuff. The most common complaint is that bands sounded great live and then sounded terrible on the broadcast. Some of it might be untrustworthy, but you can run into all sorts of people who it turns out work on the shows or, for example, helped build the studios. Regarding the ill-fated Conan Tonight Show, this guy “Lovekrafty” says:

I built out all of the audio rooms for the new Conan Show and built out the stage audio, ( Equipment and wiring ). I agree the sound is’nt the greatest. I think there are a few reasons — first off it’s a big room, originally designed for film production (it’s actually the Jack Benny shows old stage ).

They didn’t do too much in the way of treating the room. Including the rafters the stage is 40 ft high lot’s of bouncing around going on (in fact they stripped a lot of the original treatment off the walls, i.e. 50 year old fiberglass covered in burlap). The floor is covered is black shiny acrylic tiling which certainly doesn’t help.

On the production side, it’s a whole new crew , with new equipment and to be honest the production room design wasn’t that good. After all it’s only broadcast right?

Meanwhile, “Plexisys” chimes in like this, noting what might be the most important problem as far as I can tell: the ENTIRE MEDIUM OF BROADCAST TELEVISION!

Having mixed live sound for TV going back to the Midnight Special in the 70s up to today I can assure you it’s just not fun working with the broadcast side of things.

Most of the time the monitors you mix on have no relationsship to the sound that will be coming out of TV speakers. In most cases the broadcasters have the compressor/limiters set so tight there is little or no possibility of dynamics.

Some of the studios will not let the bands engineer mix the live parts but require the house “union” guy to mix the show. All you are to them is the PITA band of the week.

As an engineer/mixer, I’d rather mix monitors for a deaf band than mix for live broadcast.

All of this is over at Gearslutz, basically, which you might as well go read on your own, since there are some cool pics of the actual building of a talk show stage there. Basically, you start to get the picture that very few people in the business knows what they’re doing and you might as well be watching Flipper on some cable access show (oh look, that exists and it unsurprisingly sounds a-okay).

The best part of all is that no-budget blogs and zines are already figuring out ways to do all this in better, more creative ways. In general, video/performance series like Black Cab Sessions and They Shoot Music Don’t They. No sound guys or any of that kind of crap as far as I can tell.

In the meantime, some talk shows still knock it out of the park: Letterman and especially Jimmy Fallon are incredible. Fallon especially has already launched a few careers off of his stage (be honest – how many of you had ever, EVER heard of Odd Future before they jumped up and down a bunch on Late Nightlast year?) and made for some insane link bait with people we forgot we cared about, like this bonkers performance of “Bring tha Noize” with Public Enemy backed by the Roots and the Antibalas horns:

In fact, it’s not really ever the sound quality that we came to these programs for in the first place, but the occasion. It’s the chance to feel validated for the band you love on the same network that’s broadcasting presidential debates, and to see them thrillingly hung out to dry when the sound goes crazy. It’s the chance to see bands thrust into foreign situations alongside Dave and Conan and Charles Barkley…

…and suddenly have the cameras turned on and people like your parents are watching.

What’s gonna happen?

Great Bedroom Recordings

“I like to believe I do art because I have to do it—it’s like vomit.”
Willis Earl Beal, Credit: Michael Boyd / Chicago Reader

That’s Willis Earl Beal, this guy in Chicago who’s about to release his first album on XL Imprint Hot Charity in April.  He has an intense outsider sort of backstory (you know you’ve hit the obscurity jackpot when your first big exposure comes in Found magazine). He doesn’t even  have a Bandcamp or Soundcloud (!), and what has surfaced of his recordings sounds sounds like long-lost practice tapes with clanky percussion and waterlogged guitars.  It’s awesome, and for anyone who’s spent hours huddled around tape recorders or laptop mics  just happy to get stuff down on tape before it vanishes into thin air, it’s like a siren call from the past — when expectations were low, magic happened in real time instead of being wrestled from DAW editing tools, and things were real.  

It brings up a long obsession for lots of us with busted up recordings so gnarly they seem like they can’t be lying.

There’s a certain moment in life when a listener is suddenly fine with hearing shitty audio quality.  For most of our formative years, we spend the days listening to what’s on the radio, at the club, drifting through TV shows, blasting durin movies, whatever. We get used to the idea that the results of super expensive methods of recording are the standard for how to hear things.

Eventually, you get to hear something some talentless soul recorded on his or her own.  This is easy now that anyone can put up any recording they feel like all over the internet but, even in the prehistoric days, we all had tape recorders growing up and our parents had big reel-to-reel doo-dads before that.  Eventually you were exposed to it, and the first time you heard it I think we can agree that you probably hated it.

It sounds really bad.  It gets all fuzzy on the loud parts and blows out the speaker and these unexplained ghost waves of dissonance trail the held out notes.  Bands are even worse, usually coming across as a racket so smeared and useless that no right-minded person would sit through more than 30 seconds of it.

But step onto the other side of this equation and it’s like putting on Roddy Piper’s magic Ray-Bans. Once you’ve recorded yourself in the garage – once you’ve been behind the scenes – you know that terrible washing sound is the cymbals.  The warbled moan is the artifact of what seemed like a captivating singer at the time.  It all makes sense. You listen to it over and over.  It’s one of the most exciting things ever.   You put it on your shelf next to a dubbed Guns’n’Roses tape and don’t even bat an eye.

I was in a band that did this, of course.  We recorded onto an old cassette deck. For vocals, we figured out that we could plug an old pair of ‘70s headphones into a keyboard amp and yell into them.  We recorded ten songs. We brought them to a friend who was a drummer and played the tape for him and he looked at us in horror.  “I don’t even know where the drum beat is in this,” he said.  I was baffled.

In any case, it’s an acquired taste, but it doesn’t go away. It’s like learning how to ride a bike, with broken brake cables.  And so you move on bravely equipped to pick up people’s bad demos, practice recordings, and bootleg live tapes and parse them for treasures the way mycologists dig around in dank woods teeming with rabid grizzly bears for choice mushrooms while the rest of us are fine with the dealies in the Styrofoam trays.

This was just news on CNN:  scientists cleaned up what is possibly the oldest audio recording ever, made in 1878 by a French scientist named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville on a thing called “the phonautogram.”   On it, he’s singing “Clair de lune” in what sounds like an extremely depressed stupor, but who knows.  The recording is muddy and scratchy and barely decipherable and amazing.  In all of his research and fundraising and engineering while believing he was doing one of the most high-tech things ever, Scott de Martinville basically made the world’s first lo-fi single.

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville – Claire de Lune

There’s been a lot written about “lo-fi” as a genre, mostly since Lou Barlow started kicking it (about 115 years later) with a four-track in some Northampton apartment and Robert Pollard stumbled toward a boozy record button in Dayton.  But in its essence, talking about this method (or lack of method) in the greater context of stuff flying around the internet can drain what’s cool from it.  And that is: shitty recordings serve a great, unfathomable, and maybe even holy purpose that (hopefully now) goes beyond getting stuff up on a Tumblr as fast as possible.

In charting the waters of great, poorly recorded music, you’d have to make two categories — those that make straight ahead attempts to record a single, honest performance (think the lifelong catalog of Jandek or maybe a weird uncle of yours), and those that flail about with tape-cutting and handfisted multi-tracking like a punk making flyers out of safety scissors and Scotch tape. Both can rule, both can sound hamfisted and corny. The first category probably yields the most nostalgic examples.

Daniel Johnston – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Grievances

Daniel Johnston is the classic example and still maybe the best.  Hopefully you’ve seen the Devil and Daniel Johnston documentary, which is my favorite music film ever. Johnston made tapes one at a time on a pump organ (later guitar) in his house in Austin.  The tape recorder would sit on the top of the organ and Johnston would sing and play right into it.  On the recording, pretty much the loudest thing was the actual percussive sound of the keys getting punched over and over.  I mean it doesn’t sound very good and good luck listening to this in a car, but Johnston is too charming to not love it. His weird version of mental unbalance and honest, earnest songwriting make this stuff essential. The feeling is that he made the tape just for you (in some cases he did – stories go that he’d sometimes run out of copies to dub and would just record the whole thing again in the earliest days).

The Mountain Goats – Maize Stalk Drinking Blood

John Darnielle followed in those footsteps in the first long phase of the Mountain Goats, churning out piles of boombox dispatches from bedrooms in the late ‘90s.  Darnielle was no Daniel Johnston – he writes tense, skittish songs packed with dense, self-aware lyrics with literary allusions and obscure proper nouns. He doesn’t have quite as much of that mad genius thing going that lends itself so much to this kind of . . . format.  Still, the overall tinny blastedness of hearing Darnielle blaze through emotional manifestos over a beat-up acoustic guitar there in cassette tape oblivion is pretty a righteous experience.  He eventually developed a career out of it and started making decent-sounding recordings that weren’t as memorable, but not really any worse.  He could afford it, they sounded fine, why not?

Frank Black is a guy who’s not really ever championed lo-fi approaches to things – just check the admittedly lame-sounding gated drums on most of the Pixies albums, ouch – but he has had a pretty can-do attitude about covering everything in a song by himself.  My first live-streaming video experience is watching Frank do a low-rent web interview through AOL where he broke a string and looked into the camera and remarked, “Can you imagine a parent walking in  their kid staring at this right now?  Some guy in bad lighting fixing his guitar string?  They’re probably horrified.” Check this very old TV interview where he shows off his contentedness to just hum the lead guitar parts while Joey Santiago is off doing who knows what. Probably wasn’t even told about the interview.

When the Pixies reformed early on last decade,  someone at SpinArt (or Frank himself) had the sweet idea of releasing all the solo acoustic drafts of what would become the first three Pixies album that Frank recorded in 1986. He did it like that video — all alone in a room (right in my old neighborhood of Allston!) with a guitar and himself howling guitar parts and bass parts, sometimes giving little asides.  It’s kind of thrilling to hear, only the mastering dude put some quite cheesy reverb on the whole for I don’t know what purpose. Are we fooled into thinking a recording is more polished if it sounds as if it were dropped into a fake cave?  It would have been pretty magical, documentary-style finding is kind of turned into one of those blurry-vision dramatization segments out of Unsolved Mysteries.  Frank probably wouldn’t mind that comparison, actually. (This isn’t up on the internet for whatever reason)

On the other side lies knob-twiddling, button-mashing, sputtering-mic cable type of records typified by Sebadoh. Sebadoh III is kind of the classic, but my own personal benchmark for this approach, I guess, is that opium warped mess of John Frusciante’s Niandra Ladies and Usually Just a T-Shirt.

The idea with this record (and which might be more romanticized than the real thing) is that it’s a bunch of garbled four-track recordings he released after leaving the Chili Peppers and getting strung out on heroin.  That’s the story that usually gets handed along to you if you have a friend force this one on you, like I did, and when you listen to the thing, it’s hard not to believe it:

John Frusciante – Head (Beach Arab)

This record slays, although its insanity is probably due a bit more to Frusciante’s conscious decisions about recording — guitars probably straight in, no effects other than that delay pedal and maybe some toying with the Tape Speed controls (though who am I to say?) — and he’s gone on record as saying most of this stuff was recorded before he even left the band.  Right after Blood Sugar Sex Magik was recorded, actually.  So maybe the connection to any drug-fueled turmoil isn’t even that authentic, which is kind of a let-down (but also kind of a win for artistic expression, right)? In the end, the record channels some gut level stuff anyway.

Then there’s kind of the best stuff — unearthed working demos. This is stuff that people were never meant to hear anyway, and it seems like there are often all kinds of weird glimpses into creative process and emotions that went into the creation through these.  The Beatles obviously sold boatloads of this kind of thing when they put out those Anthologies in the ’90s, despite the fact that it’s hard to imagine most people sitting around jamming to three unfinished takes in a row of “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

PJ Harvey released her 4-Track Demos as the clamor over Rid of Me was dying down and her band had broken up. It was pretty rad — self-recorded versions of the same stuff from Rid of Me with a few bonuses – and some critics were even into it more than the real deal. Or maybe this was the real deal. I don’t know.  It’s possibly the only time Steve Albini, who recorded the studio version, has ever been accused of overproducing anything.

PJ Harvey – Reeling (4-Track Demos)

Another good example is the nasty-sound collection of demos that surfaced in the early ’90s for Tom Waits’s Alice project, which at that point was only known as a musical going down in German which no one in America would ever see.  Who knows what kind of backstabbing ninja studio work went into sneaking this out the bootleggers of the time, but here it is.  In this particularly rough one, it basically sounds like some rough instrumental rhythm work was laid down and then Tom took a tape recorder along in his car while he made up words on the spot.

Tom Waits – What Became Of Old Father Craft

Basically, it’s great.

A question for now is: where are our true lo-fi, diamond in the rough recordings?  There are tons of badly produced homespun stuff out there now, graduating from MySpace pages to SoundClouds and Bandcamps everywhere and burstin from the remains of the Altered Zones blog like pesky allergens. WAVVES nailed the fried 4-track sound right out of the gates, but even then it sort of sounds affected (not exactly in a bad way, but not in a “Gee, this was made just for me” way, either). Ditto like everything else (first Grizzly Bear record, early Ariel Pink, Times New Viking, Kurt Vile records). Suggestions here are super welcome, by the way.

But then there’s Willis Earl Beal:

Willis Earl Beal – Take Me Away

And you realize that things are still awesome.

But if you need to have some guy come along on a blog and tell you where to find the hot real “authentic” lo-fi stuff, you’re probably not looking very hard.  Convince your friends to record themselves making stuff up.  There’s a good chance they don’t know what they’re doing and the whole thing will come off totally honest.  In the end, the entire authenticity of the shitty recording might just have to do with an underdog, ground level feeling similar to when you see a band onstage at a tiny rock club with no soundguy and blown speakers.  Maybe that’s just the fable we like to tell ourselves, but it hits home, right?  There’s a quote attributed to Kim Gordon, who’s seen a few lifetimes’ worth of dumpy shows, that goes something like , “When we go to rock concerts, we pay to see people believing in themselves.”  We want to believe the people making records like this — like Johnston, like Willis, like Jandek — are doing it because they have no other choice. What we’re buying into is a good old sense of duty, maybe some desperation, and maybe a just little faith in themselves.

(Note to self and exhausted readers wondering what was the point — these posts should not be this long in the future).