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The Death Killers – Zak, Ally, Tim

There’s something very charming about listening to rock and roll made by kids. Like anything artistic made by children there is a great sense of honesty that comes from creating something you don’t enough about to be jaded or overly polished. Just do it and figure it out later. Color outside the lines. Build a bobsled. Record an album. Whatever! It’s a brazen DIY/indie spirit that we all have as children. It’s a world without rules where it’s OK to do something just because you want to, and no one (not even you) cares if you screw up because you never knew any better in the first place.

That same spirit breathed wonderful savage life into the first wave of punk rock of the early 70s, and it lives on today in the hearts of 10 year-old boys and girls from Peoria, Illinois. The likes of The Death Killers and The Tiny Masters of Today show us that punk is still kicking and pulling ponytails. Anywhere a child scowls at an unfair bedtime, punk will be there. Anytime names like “stupid-head” and “butt-face” are thrown back and forth from opposite ends of the playground, punk will be there. Wherever caricatures of evil teachers are drawn, punk will be there.

These bands are not polished, not in the least. The Death Killers album was probably recorded on a Walkman. But for what they lack in polish they make up for in honesty, which is what rock and roll is all about. You can’t get much more honest than a Walkman album. Not many of todays bands would come even remotely close to passing the Walkman-album-acid-test if they were ordered to do the same. There’s just nothing honest about them.

The Tiny Masters of Today have been getting some pretty significant airplay lately. They are also currently on tour in Europe.

The Death Killers have never been released on a label, and to my knowledge exist only online. Much rawer and more interesting than the Tiny Masters, the Death Killers are a brother/sister duo comprised of a 6 year-old and 13 year-old. Amazing. The punkest thing I’ve heard in a long time. The full “album” is available on WFMU’s blog. Listen carefully to the end of “Your Mother’s Dead (She Lives In Your Head)” and you’ll hear Ally being told to put the guitar away and go back to bed.

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If you’ve picked up this week’s issue of the City Pages you have no doubt seen the full spread “Rock Atlas” centerfold. If not you can see it online here. While I think this is a great idea I did notice a surprising lack of St. Paul venues. Big V’s for one, along with Cheapo Records (Minneapolis or St. Paul), the Artist’s Quarter, and Eclipse records (who were mentioned in passing in the Turf Club description {also to note, while the ceiling may be original the bar certainly is not. The original bar ran down the center of the space.})

Part of me wants to rail against this as another oversight in a long list of pandering and foolish acts of ‘journalism’ from the City Pages. The ‘local’ paper that’s about as local as: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minneapolis-Saint_Paul

But another part of me says, “Yes! That’s right! Stick to your Uptown Bars and your Triple Rocks! To publish the underground is to destroy the underground!” But, St Paul isn’t even that ‘underground’. Many of the shows are advertised in the City Pages along with the rest of the Minneapolis shows. People just don’t care enough. They don’t care enough to drive across the river. They don’t care enough to see a band they’ve never heard of. They don’t care enough to spend the required amount of time learning the St Paul scene. Unless the show/band/bar is given lip service on The Current people just don’t seem to care (I am making sweeping generalizations here. But they are generally sweepingly accurate). Which is fine. I don’t particularly don’t care much for the Minneapolis scene. Unless there’s a show I want to see, or there are uncontrollable circumstances which require me to cross the river.

I’m just as adverse to the MPLS scene as MPLS is to STP. Frankly I get enough of the MPLS just opening City Pages. And that’s O.K. with me. I’m fine with keeping my little family here on the east side of the mighty Miss’ without anyone else ruining it. So listen to your City Pages. There’s no music here. Just a quiet town with little buildings and cheap parking. And the gangs, don’t forget the gangs! There’s nothing to see here. Keep moving. No reason to stop. Have you seen Tiny Tim’s grave at the Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis? I hear it’s beautiful this time of year.

The Acme Siren will return after the holidays with more music related goodness. Until then, wishing the best to you and yours.

I’m not sure what the best part of this video is. Maybe it’s the heartfelt familial sentiment. Maybe it’s the crazed “hairy eyeball” looks the woman in the red dress is giving someone on the other side of the room. Or perhaps it’s the “crazy uncle” character (everyone’s got one). Floating chroma-key heads? Flaccid inflatable guitars? I just can’t make up my mind. It’s too good!

We missed last Tuesday so we’re doing it on Thursday? Questions? Ok. Good. Watch the clip.

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It’s that time of the year when everyone starts making their year-end “Best of” lists. Some of them are interesting (it’s worth sitting through the Honda ad at the beginning), and some of them are pitiful; and then there are those that are just pitifully interesting. During this time of reflection we at the Siren looked back at all the music we scraped off the internet over the past year and decided it was the perfect time to share it with all of you. This list is a celebration of what the internet has brought to independent music. I once heard that there is more gold at the bottom of the sea than in all the mines in the world. I don’t know if that’s true, but it pretty much sums up how I feel about music on the internet. The new music you would have found by accident, or really needed to dig for ten years ago is really just lying around on the floor of the internet. All you have to do is a little surfing. So surf the links I’ve provided (I’m sure you’ll find something I haven’t), and by all means show some support for the musicians, labels, and projects I’ve featured here.

To be perfectly clear, none of the tracks or albums listed here we at the Siren would qualify as ‘illegal’. These are all offered for free by their creators/labels. To be mindful of bandwidth, traffic, and general online etiquette each track is made available here through its hosting site and not as direct downloads.

1. Ache Records
I can’t even remember how I found Ache Records. I’m sure it was a link from a link from a link from a link from a fan site about women’s wrestling in the early 80s (that’s just a guess, but I’m always amazed at what I can find just by clicking around.) Ache is a small label out of Vancouver Canada that was set up as a bit of a hobby by Andy Dixon. Not only do they put out some great tunes, but they have a great indy spirit that thrives on the internet.

From the Ache Records website:
Ache is an amalgamation of our collective efforts towards the reconsideration of punk ideals and the trivial restrictions it has developed. How can one brand the sound of non-conformity with one specific tone, beat, or style? Who’s right is it to say the collective ‘fuck you’ to pop culture is played with a certain instrument? We believe it’s no ones right, and Ache is our proof.

2. Cambodian Rock
I never would have thought that Cambodia had a killer pop music scene in the late 60s and early 70s. Having been born after the Khmer Rouge took power in the mid-70s I only know Cambodia to be a rather unstable country of political conflict. While I know this is an unfair assessment, and that the political situation has normalized in the past 10-20 years the fact remains that I don’t know much about the Cambodian culture. So to have stumbled upon a whole collection of Cambodian rock-and-roll was a real mind-blower. The strange combination of western rhythm and blues and garage rock, with Cambodian vocals and instrumentation, make for a uneasy sense of familiarity. This collection also serves as a memorial, as many of the artists featured were killed by the Khmer Rouge. You can read more about Cambodian musicians, such as Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, on Wikipedia.

3. Longmont Potion Castle
Ok. So Longmont Potion Castle doesn’t technically qualify as ‘music’ (Track 2 is my favorite), but the addition of the effects processor and sampler take the art of the prank call to new heights. Enough said. Here’s an interview with the man behind it all.

4. DJ Hurtsack – “Remixes”
Take 2 parts rap, 1 part live drums, mix with various synthesizers, blend in the style that can only be classified as untitled, and you’ll get something that sounds close to what DJ Hurtsack has cooked up on this album. I know next to nothing about this artist and label(?). I’m not even sure it is a label. The website doesn’t do much to provide any information to explain who these artists are, why they are together, or how they got on the internet. For some reason I want to say that they are based out of Canada, but I might be confusing them with someone else. At any rate, a great album in the spirit of both rap and remix culture.

5. Clovis Heald – “Wading For Motorcycles”
Discovered through Anticon, but the full-length is released by The Offices of Moore & Moore. This link is just 6 tracks from the release. It’s a great low-key album featuring collaborations with Odd Nosdam, and Josiah Wolf of WHY?. Not as heavy on the scratchy, bit-hop as Anticon, but still perfect for driving aimlessly around southern California.

6. Bullion’s – “Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee
While it is tempting to describe this album as a ‘mash-up’ between The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” album and beats by legendary hip hop producer J Dilla, various online communities have adamantly pointed out that this is not the case, since the album does not sample J Dilla at all. At any rate, Bullion has produced a superb album that will be impress and astonish your friends. This one took me a little while to locate again, so download it quick before it goes away for good. Thanks to Tony Venne for giving us the heads up on this one.

7. Alone Together – “Bara No Kodoku” (download from the music player on right-hand side of the page)
Like Human Tetris and Table Cloth Challenge, Alone Together, in true Japanese-pop-culture spirit, manages to take something as simple as a piano solo and turn it into something that both boggles and excites the mind. I have never heard something as wonderfully innovative as the piano work on Bara No Kodoku; and yet after hearing it I can’t help but think, “Why hasn’t someone done this before?” The cult of the piano virtuoso has been alive for ages. Ever since the invention of the piano, people have been impressed with those who are truly talented enough to play the hell out of it. Alone Together is no exception. His album is available for free, all you have to do is email him for it. I’ve been meaning to check it out, and hope to do so soon.

8. Christopher A. Scott – “Goes on Rumspringa” EP
From the experimental Sounds Are Active label. Christopher A. Scott describes this album as “Lo-Fidelity Flamenco Electronica” and we’d have to agree with him. Amazingly composed from only 15 seconds of sampled source material, this EP blends the cut-and-paste production sensibilities and honest sampling that is immediately recognizable. Listen to with no prior obligations.

9. Lee
Another gem from WFMU’s Beware of the Blog. I’m not going to over analyze this one. I will say that I’m thrilled to have this, if not to listen to it, then for no other reason than to preserve it. Be sure to read the description on the WFMU blog, as the circumstances surrounding Lee and the recording of this album are key to appreciating them.

10. Portable Sunsets – “Tumble Phonoglossary”
From the FlatFlat label. We touched on Portable Sunsets a while back with the ReacTable post. Possibly the most sonically challenging thing I’ve posted, “Phonoglossary” is best experienced with a Zen-like sense of detachment.

Here’s how the album is described on the FlatFlat website:
After one makes multiple disparate recordings, research would suggest a synthesis questionable? this is a small set of collections of clicks from the inside of records. and a little bit of singing and missing lovers. hot chocolate and old rickety houses. plus friend cameos always. food

Obviously there is much much more out there. We had a tough time paring the list down to just what you see hear! So crank up your modem, do some downloading, and enjoy.

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Cover art by Josh Boston

I haven’t listened to it yet (I’m downloading it as I write this), but it looks like another great mix of what’s hot on the charts and a few unexpected surprises. Check it out.

As of late there has been a strong resurgence of funky danceable disco, and 80s electro, but no one has made more of an effort to take funk, as a genre, into the new millennium than the Mackrosoft label. By making it harder, stronger, wired, and even more electric, Mackrosoft artists like Aja West and Cheebacabra are doing a fine job a carving out a nice little empire for themselves.

I love their videos. The simple, lo-fi, quality makes it all the more evident that these guys are making music because it’s what they love to do, rather than to serve a larger corporate agenda.

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More laidback, ethereal goodness from Tycho. Hopefully the full-length will follow shortly. Preview and purchase at his ISO50 blog.

I’d also highly recommend his other release: Past is Prologue.

“How much more black could this be?”

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