May, 2011 Archives

16
May

Street Art at MOCA in LA, DNTEL and New Banksy

by Lefort in Art, Music

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We encourage you to head down to LA’s Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to check out the current exhibit of street art featuring the likes of Banksy, Shepard Fairey and a host of other great street artists.  The exhibit is up until August 8th.

MOCA’s press release is set forth below.

“The Museum of Contemporary Art presents Art in the Streets, the first major U.S. museum exhibition of the history of graffiti and street art. The exhibition will trace the development of graffiti and street art from the 1970s to the global movement it has become today, concentrating on key cities where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved. Following MOCA’s presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Brooklyn Museum, where it will be on view March 30–July 8, 2012.

Art in the Streets will showcase installations by 50 of the most dynamic artists from the graffiti and street art community, including Fab 5 Freddy (New York), Lee Quiñones (New York), Futura (New York), Margaret Kilgallen (San Francisco), Swoon (New York), Shepard Fairey (Los Angeles), Os Gemeos (São Paulo), and JR (Paris). MOCA’s exhibition will emphasize Los Angeles’s role in the evolution of graffiti and street art, with special sections dedicated to cholo graffiti and Dogtown skateboard culture. The exhibition will feature projects by influential local artists such as Craig R. Stecyk III, Chaz Bojórquez, Mister Cartoon, RETNA, SABER, REVOK, and RISK.

A special emphasis will be placed on photographers and filmmakers who documented graffiti and street art culture including Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, James Prigoff, Steve Grody, Gusmano Cesaretti, Estevan Oriol, Ed Templeton, Larry Clark, Terry Richardson, and Spike Jonze. A comprehensive timeline illustrated with artwork, photography, video, and ephemera will provide further historical context for the exhibition.

Art in the Streets will feature several shows within the show. There will be a special section dedicated to the Fun Gallery, which connected New York graffiti artists with the downtown art community in the early 1980s. Co-curated by gallery founder Patti Astor, the Fun Gallery installation will feature the work of Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and the graffiti artists who shaped the gallery’s history. A section dedicated to the seminal film Wild Style (1983), co-curated by the film’s director Charlie Ahearn, will document its influence on the global dissemination of graffiti and hip-hop culture. The exhibition will also feature a memorial presentation of Battle Station, a rarely seen work by legendary artist and theorist RAMMELLZEE, and a display of graffiti black books and other historic works from the Martin Wong Collection presented in collaboration with the Museum of the City of New York. A highlight of the exhibition will be a Los Angeles version of Street Market, a re-creation of an urban street complete with overturned trucks by Todd James, Barry McGee, and Steve Powers.

The exhibition will open with a skate ramp designed by pro-skater Lance Mountain and artist Geoff McFetridge. Skate demonstrations by the Nike SB skate team will be held onsite for the duration of the exhibition.

“Art in the Streets will be the first exhibition to position the work of the most influential artists to emerge from street culture in the context of contemporary art history,” said MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch.

“This quintessentially urban and dynamic partnership between the Brooklyn Museum and MOCA began with the 2005 Brooklyn-organized exhibition of the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the consummate American street artist of his generation; continued with the MOCA-organized ©MURAKAMI in 2007, defining critical elements of worldwide street art; and now culminates with a groundbreaking exhibition devoted entirely to street art and graffiti,” said Brooklyn Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman. “The partnership has, in itself, provided a major record of public art over the past half century.”

Art in the Streets is organized by Jeffrey Deitch and associate curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose. Gastman is the author of The History of American Graffiti, which will be released in April 2011, and was a consulting producer on the film Exit Through The Gift Shop. Rose curated the exhibition Beautiful Losers and directed the related documentary film. Ethel Seno, editor of Trespass: A History of Uncommissioned Urban Art, is the curatorial coordinator of the exhibition. The Brooklyn Museum’s presentation will be organized by Managing Curator of Exhibitions Sharon Matt Atkins.”

Related to the Art in the Street exhibit, we were chagrined to learn that we had missed an opportunity to attend the Cave of Forgotten Dreams event on April 23rd at the Natural History Museum which was the closing event of the Cinefamily’s street art film series and which featured a live discussion with director Werner Herzog and musical performances by Nite Jewel, Islands, White Magic, and  Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello of Postal Service).  Tamborello hailed originally from Santa Barbara and records and DJs under the Dntel moniker.  Dntel has recently released a couple of fine new EPs, “After Parties 1” and “After Parties 2.”

Check out a couple of Dntel’s great new tracks below.

Dntel–After Parties

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/01-After-Parties.mp3|titles=01 After Parties]

Dntel–Flares

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/01-Flares.mp3|titles=01 Flares]

And finally here’s a fine new offering from Banksy inspired by recent riots in England prompted by the opening of a Tesco store in Stokes Croft, Bristol.  The poster of a lit petrol bomb emblazoned with Tesco’s ‘value’ logo will be sold to raise funds for the local community groups opposed to the Tesco store.

12
May

The Mountain Goats–Coming to Soho on June 24th

by Lefort in Music

The Mountain Goats are coming to Soho on June 24th, and we couldn’t be happier.  Leader John Darnielle and crew have contributed treasure troves of tremulous tones and tales over the past two decades, and in the process have earned the respect and adoration of fans and critics alike.  The band (including Peter Hughes and funny-man drummer Jon Wurster) is currently on tour in support of their recently released album, “All Eternals Deck,” on Merge Records.  Having been obsessively overtaken by their oeuvre , and having heard bootlegs (courtesy of nyctaper) of their recent shows, we predict their show at Soho will be one of the highlights of the musical summer in Santa Barbara.  You can pick up tickets over at Club Mercy.

We’ll write more about the Mountain Goats’ discography in the coming weeks, but in the meantime check out one of our favorite songs off the new album, Never Quite Free.  On its surface, Never Quite Free seems to limn comfort and assurance in an anthem-like setting.  But the song’s title and foreboding allusions to the inevitable disruption of that comfort (“but hear his breath come through his teeth”) provide a more complex gestalt.  Darnielle is thankfully not prone to fairy-tale endings, which is understandable given the complexities and intermittent murk of this life.  And ambiguity provides possible rewards for all, no matter the writer’s intent or lack thereof.  Regardless, it’s a stunningly good song.

The Mountain Goats–Never Quite Free

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/12-Never-Quite-Free.mp3|titles=12 – Never Quite Free]“It’s so good to learn that right outside your window
there’s only friendly fields and open roads
you’ll sleep better when you think
you’ve stepped back from the brink
found some peace inside yourself
laid down your heavy load

it gets alright
to dream at night
believe in solid skies and slate blue earth below
but when you see him, you’ll know

it’s okay to find the faith to saunter forward
with no fear of shadows spreading where you stand
and you’ll breathe easier just knowing that the worst is all behind you
and the waves that tossed the raft all night
have set you on dry land
it gets okay to praise the day
believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath
but hear his breath come through his teeth

walk by faith
tell no one what you see

it’s so good to learn that from right here the view goes on forever
and you’ll never want for comfort
and you’ll never be alone
see the sunset turning red
let all be quiet in your head
and look about
all the stars are coming out
they shine like steel swords
wish me well where i go
but when you see me, you’ll know”

Never Quite Free—The Mountain Goats

It’s so good to learn that right outside your window
there’s only friendly fields and open roads
you’ll sleep better when you think
you’ve stepped back from the brink
found some peace inside yourself
laid down your heavy load

it gets alright
to dream at night
believe in solid skies and slate blue earth below
but when you see him, you’ll know

it’s okay to find the faith to saunter forward
with no fear of shadows spreading where you stand
and you’ll breathe easier just knowing that the worst is all behind you
and the waves that tossed the raft all night
have set you on dry land
it gets okay to praise the day
believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath
but hear his breath come through his teeth

walk by faith
tell no one what you see

it’s so good to learn that from right here the view goes on forever
and you’ll never want for comfort
and you’ll never be alone
see the sunset turning red
let all be quiet in your head
and look about
all the stars are coming out
they shine like steel swords
wish me well where i go
but when you see me, you’ll know

11
May

Bill Callahan–Riding for the Feeling

by Lefort in Music

Bill Callahan is coming to Soho on Friday, June 17th (courtesy of Club Mercy) in support of his fine new album, “Apocalypse,” on Drag City.  We highly recommend you get to Soho and catch Callahan, who is one of our more prolific and profound (though subtly so) songwriters.  We’ve loved Callahan’s writing and delivery for a long, long time in his various permutations (particularly on Smog, but also solo).

Now comes the first song and video off the new album:  Riding for the Feeling (lyrics below the video). The song is a languid, spare beauty.  The video features a graphic ski jumper in flight above a mountain range with no gravity or gravitas in sight.  The lyrics and video suggest that nothing of this world can bring this jumper down.  We love the concept of “riding for the feeling,” whether because it’s a glorious day in which you can do no wrong (“riding without a chain,” as cyclists say), or whether you just need to let fly and end some analysis-paralysis, or whether you feel temporarily dead to the world and need to ride to regain some feeling and lift.  All are possible.  Don’t give up on the ride.

“It’s never easy to say goodbye
To the faces
So rarely do we see another one
So close and so long

I asked the room if I’d said enough
No one really answered
They just said, “Don’t go, don’t go”
Well all this leaving is never ending

I kept hoping for one more question
Or for someone to say,
“Who do you think you are?”
So I could tell them

With intensity, the drop evaporates by law
In conclusion, leaving is easy
When you’ve got some place you need to be
I’m giving up this gig for another season

With the TV on mute
I’m listening back to the tapes
On the hotel bed
My my my apocalypse

I realized I had said very little about ways or wheels
Or riding for the feeling
Riding for the feeling
Is the fastest way to reach the shore

On water or land
Riding for the feeling

What if I had stood there at the end
And said again and again and again and again and again
An answer to every question
Riding for the feeling”

10
May

A Rhymin’ Son of Simon

by Lefort in Music

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Photo:  Autumn Dewilde

It can’t be easy making one’s way in the musical world when you are the spawn of Paul Simon, one of America’s all-time great songwriters.  Hence Harper Simon’s handicap (and advantage) in that world.  Harper released his self-titled album to some acclaim in 2009.  In addition to some stalwart back-up players on the album (Al Perkins, Marc Ribot, Lloyd Green, Steve Gadd, etc.), it can’t be a coincidence that he enlisted the support of other musical-star progeny:  Inara George (Lowell George’s daughter), Petra Haden (Charlie Haden’s daughter), and Sean Lennon (really?).

There are some great songs on the album, including Berkeley Girl and Shooting Star, and a few composed with his father and mother, but our favorite is Wishes and Stars.  The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree on this song.  With the help of the uncredited Art Garfunkel, Harper manages to conjure and pay tribute to the sweet sound of Simon and Garfunkel.  And maybe, just maybe, he has come to grips with the fact that he was born under a good sign and, though there are “more wishes than stars,” you have to accept when “your whole life’s been blessed.”

Listen to the song below (lyrics included below), and then check out the video of Harper’s rendering of the song live at Largo with America’s most soulful guitar player, David Rawlings (while you’re at it, listen to Harper’s vocals and see if you don’t hear the echoes of another Largo favorite, Tom Brosseau). And then below that are a couple of our favorite Paul Simon songs from his early solo albums (just in case you are amongst the few that aren’t familiar with the phenomenal early solo Simon songs).

Harper Simon–Wishes and Stars

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/04-Wishes-And-Stars.mp3|titles=04 Wishes And Stars]

Everyone seems so certain
Everyone knows who they are
Everyone’s got a mother and a father
They all seem so sure they’re going far
They all got more friends than they can use

Except me ’cause I’m a fool
I’m as simple as a bee
As a melody in C
But it don’t matter
There are more wishes than stars

Every guest
So pleased with themselves
They’re brimming with success
Their whole life’s been blessed
But it don’t matter

Everyone’s been on a holiday in the sun
Or they just got back from one
All they do is just have fun
They all got more friends than they can use

I’m not too certain about many things
I’m not too sure who I am
I ain’t got no mother and I ain’t got no father
I ain’t got no girlfriend to hold my hand

I’m slow like the trees when they grow
I’m sluggish like the ocean when it moves
I’m plain like water or like rain
But I shouldn’t complain cause it don’t matter

There are more wishes than stars
More wishes than stars”

Paul Simon–Peace Like a River

One of our all-time favorites from stem to stern.  What many don’t know is how great a guitar player Paul Simon was/is.  Check out his great acoustic playing on this song.

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Paul-Simon-Peace-Like-A-River.mp3|titles=Paul Simon -Peace Like A River]

Paul Simon–Rene And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War

Check out the stunning vocals and dynamics on this song.

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Paul-Simon-Rene-and-Georgette-Magritte-With-Their-Dog-After-the-War-+-lyrics.mp3|titles=Paul Simon – Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War + lyrics]

Paul Simon–Hearts and Bones

Here’s a love song for the ages.

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/12-Hearts-And-Bones.mp3|titles=12 Hearts And Bones]
9
May

Shepard Fairey Hails a Death Cab

by Lefort in Music

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True confession: we are probably more excited about the impending new Death Cab for Cutie album (“Codes and Keys”) than any other album to be released near-term (except maybe the new Wrens and Buellton albums; but seriously–we said near-term!).

With it’s last three releases, Death Cab has had a pop perfection three-peat (Transatlanticism, Plans and Narrow Stairs), and we at Lefort are hoping for more.  A quartet would be nice.

Artist Shepard Fairey and Death Cab bassist Nicholas Harmer have collaborated to dream up the first video for the new album.  Check out their video for the new song Home is a Fire below.  And you can read some explanation/backdrop on the video and song from Fairey and Harmer over at Boing Boing.

5
May

Rehearsals for Departure–Damien Jurado

by Lefort in Music

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After Damien Jurado released his saintly “St. Bartlett” album last year, we had no choice but to revisit his earlier recordings.  Jurado is justly revered for his intense and emotionally authentic songs that have slowly coagulated into one of the strongest singer-songwriter catalogs around.  We’re still working through his steadily and quietly assimilated discography, but one of his earliest albums, 1999’s “Rehearsals for Departure,” is stuck in our jukebox and is refusing to depart, no matter how much rehearsing we do.

This fine album was ably produced by the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, who added a plateful of instruments ranging from guitar, organ, and piano to mellotron and concertina.  But the focus here is on Jurado’s melodies and subtly-simple, but perfect, lyrics and singing.  And there is good variety with great upbeat pop love-songs (Letters and Drawings, Honey Baby–the latter heard below), and beauteous ballads (the title track, Ohio, Curbside–the latter two heard below).  Check out a few of the songs off this album and then do yourselves a favor:  delve into Jurado’s back-pages and give a good listen.  You will be justly rewarded.

Damien Jurado–Ohio

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/01-Ohio.mp3|titles=01 Ohio]

First up is Ohio, which we have loved from the moment we first heard it (Coco Rosie’s haunting cover, which you can hear here, and which was recorded on an answering machine, which devices and found-recordings thereon have been an infatuation of Jurado’s).  On Ohio, Jurado tells the terrifying tale of a woman abducted as a child by her “father’s hired men” while her mother was asleep, and her longing to return to her mother and Ohio, together with his lament of her inevitable departure.  The song is filled with laudable lines such as: “She stands on the sidewalk/ Just waving at taxis/ Like horses and parades in passing,” in which he craftily conveys the resulting stunted growth of this woman.  And when Jurado sings “It’s been a long time, a real long time,” the pain is palpable.  We love Richard Smokavich’s (name and) harrowing harmonica and how it alternates between a wail at moments and, at 2:36, the seeming chug of the train that might carry Jurado’s love back to Ohio.  Stunning.

Damien Jurado–Honey Baby

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/04-Honey-Baby.mp3|titles=04 Honey Baby]

Next up is the more musically upbeat pop-rocker, Honey Baby. Despite the rocking backdrop and the leavening love within, even here Jurado can’t dismiss his fatalistic concerns about the possibly short-lived love.  You sense he’s been burned before in his asking:  “Is this the first time baby, is this the last time, well maybe?” We love the chorus repeat:  “I spent the last night in your room/Kickin these wishes to the moon.”

Damien Jurado–Curbside

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/03-Curbside.mp3|titles=03 Curbside]

Finally, in the beautiful ballad, Curbside, Jurado tells an Everyman’s coming-of-age love story and brings alive the sense of loss for youth’s days and loves that “slowly slipped away.”  And when Sarah Shannon joins on the chorus at 1:32 it’s as if Damien’s lost love is singing along from afar.  Nice touch.  Who among you hasn’t hung on the curbside under streetlights when another’s “words would amaze”? You can’t go back, but at times you can nearly taste the moments.  Ultimately, there is reality:  “Where are you know, you’re with another.”  Jurado has said that he very rarely plays the song live since he “can’t get through a performance of it because it is too personal.”  Legit.

We hope you’ll check out Rehearsals for Departure and make your way into Jurado’s great discography.

3
May

Out With the Old, and In With The New (Singalong Edition)

by Lefort in Music

We’ve been dwelling on the past quite a bit recently.  In the meantime we’ve had a few new(er) songs on repeat in our jukebox that compel you to sing and/or shout along.  Check ’em.

Chief among these new-ish songs is Fergus Falls from Milwaukee band Conrad Plymouth.  It’s an anthemic monster that starts slow and builds, eventually inflating into a sing-along zeppelin with the inspiring refrain: “This is the one in which I miraculously pulled out/ Of a free-fall dive over Fergus Falls, Minnesota.”  Sometimes we rejoice in victory.  At other times it’s enough to celebrate the aversion of a downward-spiral disaster and to proclaim victory in survival.  The repetition and build serves to drive the point home.  Well played.

Conrad Plymouth–Fergus Falls

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/04-Fergus-Falls.mp3|titles=04 Fergus Falls]

We don’t know if this band will ever attain these lofty heights again (a new record release is impending), but you can stream and download their four-song e.p. from last year here.

Next up is the too-short, but too-good, shout-along, Crop Circle Plus Legs, from Chicago’s Like Pioneers.

Like Pioneers–Crop Circle Plus Legs

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/05-Crop-Circles-Plus-Legs.mp3|titles=05 Crop Circles Plus Legs]

You can check out Like Pioneers’ album, “Piecemeal,” over at Bandcamp.

And finally, Typhoon, one of our favorite studio bands (we were not wowed by them live, but look forward to giving them another chance) that were unearthed for us last year (thanks, D!), released a magnum e.p. on us  (“A New Kind of House”) in March as a follow-up to last year’s great album, “Hunger and Thirst,” and re-released their phenomenal song, CPR–Claws Part 2 from that album. It’s a great song that’ll get you in the mood for a little Spring-cleaning (of sorts).

Typhoon–CPR–Claws Part 2

[audio:http://www.thelefortreport.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/03-CPR-_-Claws-Pt.-21.mp3|titles=03 CPR _ Claws Pt. 2]


2
May

John Updike–Peggy Lutz, Fred Murth

by Lefort in Poetry

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It’s well known that John Updike was one of America’s best fictioneers (long and short).  What is less well known is that he was also one of our better poets.  Having written about Mickey Newbury’s album and song Heaven Help the Child below, we were struck by one of Updike’s poems (written shortly before his passing) on childhood, hometowns and aging.  Check out “Peggy Lutz, Fred Murth” below.

“They’ve been in my fiction; both now dead,

Peggy just recently, long stricken (like

my Grandma) with Parkinson’s disease.

But what a peppy knockout Peggy was! –

cheerleader, hockey star, May Queen, RN.

Pigtailed in kindergarten, she caught my mother’s

eye, but she was too much girl for me.

Fred – so bright, so quietly wry – his

mother’s eye fell on me, a “nicer” boy

than his son’s pet pals. Fred’s slight wild streak

was tamed by diabetes. At the end,

it took his toes and feet. Last time we met,

his walk rolled wildly, fetching my coat. With health

he might have soared. As was, he taught me smarts.

Dear friends of childhood, classmates, thank you,

scant hundred of you, for providing a

sufficiency of human types; beauty,

bully, hanger-on, natural,

twin, and fatso – all a writer needs,

all there in Shillington, its trolley cars

and little factories, cornfields and trees,

leaf fires, snowflakes, pumpkins, valentines.

To think of you brings tears less caustic

than those the thought of death brings. Perhaps

we meet our heaven at the start and not

the end of life. Even then were tears

and fear and struggle, but the town itself

draped in plain glory the passing days.

*

The town forgave me for existing; it

included me in Christmas carols, songfests

(though I sang poorly) at the Shillington,

the local movie house. My father stood,

in back, too restless to sit, but everybody

knew his name, and mine. In turn I knew

my Granddad in the overalled town crew.

I’ve written these before, these modest facts,

but their meaning has no bottom in my mind.

The fragments in their jiggled scope collide

to form more sacred windows. I had to move

to beautiful New England – its triple

deckers, whited churches, unplowed streets –

to learn how drear and deadly life can be.”

“Peggy Lutz, Fred Muth”

They’ve been in my fiction; both now dead,

Peggy just recently, long stricken (like

my Grandma) with Parkinson’s disease.

But what a peppy knockout Peggy was! –

cheerleader, hockey star, May Queen, RN.

Pigtailed in kindergarten, she caught my mother’s

eye, but she was too much girl for me.

Fred – so bright, so quietly wry – his

mother’s eye fell on me, a “nicer” boy

than his son’s pet pals. Fred’s slight wild streak

was tamed by diabetes. At the end,

it took his toes and feet. Last time we met,

his walk rolled wildly, fetching my coat. With health

he might have soared. As was, he taught me smarts.

Dear friends of childhood, classmates, thank you,

scant hundred of you, for providing a

sufficiency of human types; beauty,

bully, hanger-on, natural,

twin, and fatso – all a writer needs,

all there in Shillington, its trolley cars

and little factories, cornfields and trees,

leaf fires, snowflakes, pumpkins, valentines.

To think of you brings tears less caustic

than those the thought of death brings. Perhaps

we meet our heaven at the start and not

the end of life. Even then were tears

and fear and struggle, but the town itself

draped in plain glory the passing days.

(Updike’s poem continues with the following lines, which were not read at the cemetery.)

The town forgave me for existing; it

included me in Christmas carols, songfests

(though I sang poorly) at the Shillington,

the local movie house. My father stood,

in back, too restless to sit, but everybody

knew his name, and mine. In turn I knew

my Granddad in the overalled town crew.

I’ve written these before, these modest facts,

but their meaning has no bottom in my mind.

The fragments in their jiggled scope collide

to form more sacred windows. I had to move

to beautiful New England – its triple

deckers, whited churches, unplowed streets –

to learn how drear and deadly life can be.