Archive for March, 2014

A Band Called Jupiter Holiday (a.k.a., When Marketing Actually Works)

Jupiter Holiday T-shirt, still in good conditionA few years back, I made a couple of trips down to Terrapin Station, a now defunct bar in Boise, Idaho, that featured jam bands (the bar’s core influence is pretty obvious). It was one of the friendliest bars I’ve ever been in — folks who’d strike up a conversation out of the blue, happy bartenders, just a great vibe. The one strike against it was the pervasive smell of cigarette smoke — not just a little of it, but a thick, spongy layer that had soaked into the walls. I think Idaho has passed non-smoking laws, but they came too late for this place.

Smoke aside, I had a good time at Terrapin. I land in Boise a couple of times a year to visit family, and it’s nice to experience what the city has to offer.

I enjoyed most of the music I saw there, but I remember only one of the bands: Jupiter Holiday —  because I bought their T-shirt.

Here’s what I recall: I liked the band, and the shirts (plain white with a plain blue-and-red logo on one side) were just $5. And I was in the market for more non-black, non-“fancy” T-shirts to get me between laundry days in the summer. Sold!

I still wear the shirt. For a few years now, I’ve seen it every couple of weeks in my drawer or coming out of the drier. Sometimes I’ll pause for a moment and wonder what happened to that band.

Jupiter Holiday's album - I'll scan a bigger image when I get home from BoiseWell, earlier this winter, I was walking through The Record Exchange, an honest-to-god CD store in downtown Boise, and there on a rack … was a CD by the band Jupiter Holiday, released earlier in 2013.

I knew who they were and I knew I’d enjoyed one of their shows back when. All because of that T-shirt.

So yeah, I bought the CD. It’s called Deep, Delicious, Secret Surprise, and it’s quite good. A mix of poppy prog rock (prog chords, mostly 4/4 tempos) and some jam-band atmosphere. It’s bright, upbeat, nonobvious rock. You might like it if you’d be into a happier Porcupine Tree with some country twang, or an less heavy Rush that focused mainly on the melodies, or a sober and clear-headed Grateful Dead.

So there you go: Marketing really can work sometimes.

As for the band, their web site (which was up in January) appears to be gone. I hope they stick around and keep making music, though. I could always use another T-shirt.

March 12, 2014 at 12:01 am Leave a comment

Catharsis and the Drums

Mike PrideDrummer’s Corpse (AUM Fidelity, 2013)

Source: AUM Fidelity; click to go there. “My ‘Ascension,'” drummer Mike Pride calls the track “Drummer’s Corpse.” It’s a 33-minute catharsis, a sustained blast of energy delivered by seven top-notch drummers.

Anchoring the whole thing, in a sense, is a wall of electric-guitar sound by Chris Welcome, a succession of fiercely chiming chords that stubbornly guide the music forward. “Drummer’s Corpse” starts with a few minutes of cymbal and gong splashes, a statement of entry — and then the guitar blasts into the frame, and we’re off to the races.

Little vocal shrieks and cries emit from the seven-drummer tumult, like people being swept away by a violent current. Where “Ascension” divided into episodes defined by soloists, “Drummer’s Corpse” uses the guitar chords — but really, they’re just curves in the rushing river of noise. It’s quite a ride.

You can sample “Drummer’s Corpse” in this trippy video:

In addition to Pride, the drummers involved are Oran Canfield, Russell Greenberg,
John McClellan, Bobby Previte, Ches Smith, and Tyshawn Sorey, with Marissa Perel and Fritz Welch contributing vocals and percussion. Yes, it’s a corps of drummers, and the title might be a play-on-words, but I’m thinking of the piece more as a serious statement.

The album is rounded out by a track that’s completely different. “Some Will Die Animals” is an avant-garde elegy for drummer Gen Mikano, who took his own life in 2012. Two lengthy instrumental trio passages, slow and tense, are each followed by two segments of “recitations,” which is where the real madness comes in.

Four overlapping voices reading the same text passage from different starting points, creating a surreal journey of short paths that keep tracking back on to themselves. The texts are odd, meant to represent a news broadcast that includes “global sex-terrorism, suicide, and scientific descriptions of imaginary future-animals,” as Pride describes it in the CD’s promo materials.

I don’t know the details of Mikano’s passing, so I don’t know if the piece is meant to evoke the feeling of voices in your head, beating relentlessly on the same notes — but that’s the sensation, especially with headphones. It’s not scary (and in fact, the text is a bit silly), just very interesting (or grating, if you’re not in the mood).

March 9, 2014 at 12:00 pm Leave a comment

KZSU Day of Noise 2014

I was able to help only for the very beginning and tail end of KZSU’s Day of Noise this year, but it was still a lot of fun.

As usual, a small group of hero DJs made the Day of Noise possible, including Abra (who emceed all 24 hours) and Smurph, who I believe was on hand for most of the sound engineering.

I even manned a sound board this time. The group was Big City Orchestra, a quartet that used styrofoam as its main sound source. They bowed it, poked sticks into it (tuning them beforehand, because they started their set with a droney piece) and ran the sound through all kinds of effects. By the end, it was a wall of noise. It was pretty cool.

Pictures follow. I caught a few minutes of Karl Evangelista and Tom Djll’s band, Revenant, but didn’t get a chance to say hi; their set ended as I was helping set up the audio for BCO.

Here’s the photographic evidence.

Smurph, our head sound engineer, setting up what's normally a meeting room. We use two studios for Day of Noise, so that one band can set up while another is playing.

Smurph, our head sound engineer, setting up what’s normally a meeting room. We use two studios for Day of Noise, so that one band can set up while another is playing.

Brian B. James opened the 24-hour Day of Noise. The potted trees, collected from around the station, were set up in the studio for the sake of the webcast, which we ran on UStream throughout the day/night.

Brian B. James opened the 24-hour Day of Noise. The potted trees, collected from around the station, were set up in the studio for the sake of the webcast, which we ran on UStream throughout the day/night.

The Day of Noise tradition: the autographed T-shirt.

The Day of Noise tradition: the autographed T-shirt.

Revenant (three-fourths of it, anyway): Karl Evangelista, Michael Coleman, Tom Djll

Revenant (three-fourths of it, anyway): Karl Evangelista, Michael Coleman, Tom Djll

Revenant percussionist Nava Dunkelman, captured through the hazy Studio A window.

Revenant percussionist Nava Dunkelman, captured through the hazy Studio A window.

Big City Orchestra setting up. Cheryl Leonard is on the left, and Nina Lynn Hollenberg is third from left ... didn't write down the men's names, unfortunately.

Big City Orchestra setting up. Cheryl Leonard is on the left, and Nina Lynn Hollenberg is third from left … didn’t write down the men’s names, unfortunately.

Cheryl E. Leonard.

Cheryl E. Leonard.

Sticks stuck into the boxes were tuned to specific notes (yes, tuned -- it wasn't easy) and bowed to produce groany tones.

Sticks stuck into the boxes were tuned to specific notes (yes, tuned — it wasn’t easy) and bowed to produce groany tones.

BCO played three pre-planned movements that culminated in stabbing and sawing the styrofoam. It was a heavily noisy finale.

BCO played three pre-planned movements that culminated in stabbing and sawing the styrofoam. It was an appropriately noisy finale.

Syrofoam bits clung to the performers' hands and got everywhere. Probably should have seen that coming.

Syrofoam bits clung to the performers’ hands and got everywhere. Probably should have seen that coming.

Less than 30 minutes after BCO's set, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a lot of elbow grease.

The stuido less than 30 minutes after BCO’s set, thanks to the wonders of modern technology and a lot of elbow grease.

3 Leafs closed out the Day of Noise 2014.

3 Leafs closed out the Day of Noise 2014.

March 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment


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