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Jack White’s Third Man Records Announces The Final Chapter Of The Paramount Records Story

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014


On Nov 18th, Jack White’s Third Man Records, in partnership with John Fahey’s Revenant Records, will unlock the second and final chapter chronicling the curious tale of America’s most important record label with ‘The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 2 (1928-1932).’ A stunning omnibus of words, music, art and design, ‘Volume 2′ picks up where the “spectacular” (New York Times) and “unprecedented” (Rolling Stone) ‘Volume 1′ left off. It documents the label’s final 5 year period between 1928-32, a stunning second act in which Paramount birthed the entire genre of Mississippi Delta blues and issued some of the most coveted recordings in the history of the medium: Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Geeshie Wiley, The Mississippi Sheiks, Willie Brown, King Solomon Hill, and hundreds of others. ‘Volume 2′ contains six LPs, a sculpted metal USB drive with 800 songs and 90+ original hand-drawn ads from the Chicago Defender, a large-format hardcover book telling the label’s story via new writing and original images, and an illustrated Field Guide with biographies and recording information for each artist represented in the set. It is all housed in a streamline case of polished aluminum modeled after a portable phonograph in 1930s American “Machine Age” Art Deco style. Like ‘Volume 1′, the collection was co-produced by leading Paramount authority Alex van der Tuuk. Paramount Records’ open-door recording policy led it to the very bedrock of America’s untamed blues, jazz, gospel and folk sounds. In the process the label provided the earliest and most representative snapshot of America’s sonic landscape. ‘Volume 2′ offers a magnificent conclusion to this story of how a Wisconsin chair company, despite producing records on the cheap, changed how America thought of itself by allowing this young country to hear what it really sounded like, in all its stripes, for the very first time. ‘Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume 2 (1928-1932)’ contains: MORE

RELATED: The Crumb-Zolten Blues


ALL MUSIC GUIDE: While Robert Crumb is most famous as the single most influential artist in the history of underground comics, he’s also known as a record collector and serious fan of vintage jazz and blues, freely acknowledging he has no interest in anything recorded after 1936. Jerry Zolten, a well-respected music historian and professor at Penn State University, is a fellow record collector who is friendly with Crumb, and in 2003 the artist was a guest on Zolten‘s radio show on Penn State’s radio station WPSU-FM. Chimpin’ the Blues preserves 60 minutes from Zolten‘s show, with Zolten and Crumb playing some of their favorite rare 78s from the ’20s and ’30s and discussing the music and the people who made it. MORE

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

Monday, September 29th, 2014



Lena Dunham‘s character on the HBO series Girls would be envious of Dunham. On the show, about a group of friends in their 20s, Hannah is a writer who got and lost two book deals. One of her ambitions is to “lock eyes with The New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani.” Dunham, who created and stars in Girls, not only has a new collection of personal essays called Not That Kind of Girl, she also received a great review from Kakutani, who described the book as “smart” and “funny.” “By simply telling her own story in all its specificity and sometimes embarrassing detail, [Dunham] has written a book that’s as acute and heartfelt as it is funny,” Kakutani wrote. The essays are an unwavering account of Dunham’s past relationships, current friendships and things she’s learned from her parents. Dunham, 28, says her biggest concern when telling all was to protect her loved ones. “I feel very, very conscious that my parents, my boyfriend, my friends don’t feel in any way demeaned, exposed or abused by the work that I make,” Dunham tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “I think we all have enough content of our own that we don’t have to expose the people in our lives to these dark forces.” Dunham also describes writing her own character on the show — and how that’s changed since it began in early 2012. She says some of her characters are more destructive than the people she’s drawn to in real life. “I think at a point I really liked the concept of the lost girl, the girl who was sort of moving through the world — she had a bit of a Zelda Fitzgerald lost, broken woman quality that is not as charming to me as it used to be,” she says. Girls begins its fourth season in January. MORE

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KURT VILE: Gold Tone (Live)

Monday, September 29th, 2014

VOLCOM: Take a journey through the unparalleled mental space imagined by some of Volcom’s most creative visionaries. In Chapter 2 of Volcom’s True To This, we explore the magical state of mind that lures us in and keeps us crawling back for more. This video transcendence features an exclusive live performance of Kurt Vile’s “Gold Tone” and takes a deep dive into his higher consciousness. It’s here that we also explore the meditative states of artists Travis Millard and Gemma O’Brien and careen into the minds of Volcom riders Dane Burmen, Bryan Iguchi and Ryan Burch as they explore the perfection of the cushiony dimension. MORE

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The Edward Snowden Of Wall Street Has Arrived, Bringing With Her Goldman Sachs’ Ray Rice Tape

Monday, September 29th, 2014


THIS AMERICAN LIFE: An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping. MORE

PRO PUBLICA: In the spring of 2012, a senior examiner with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York determined that Goldman Sachs had a problem. Under a Fed mandate, the investment banking behemoth was expected to have a company-wide policy to address conflicts of interest in how its phalanxes of dealmakers handled clients. Although Goldman had a patchwork of policies, the examiner concluded that they fell short of the Fed’s requirements.  That finding by the examiner, Carmen Segarra, potentially had serious implications for Goldman, which was already under fire for advising clients on both sides of several multibillion-dollar deals and allegedly putting the bank’s own interests above those of its customers. It could have led to closer scrutiny of Goldman by regulators or changes to its business practices. Before she could formalize her findings, Segarra said, the senior New York Fed official who oversees Goldman pressured her to change them. When she refused, Segarra said she was called to a meeting where her bosses told her they no longer trusted her judgment. Her phone was confiscated, and security officers marched her out of the Fed’s fortress-like building in lower Manhattan, just 7 months after being hired. “They wanted me to falsify my findings,” Segarra said in a recent interview, “and when I wouldn’t, they fired me.” Today, Segarra filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the New York Fed in federal court in Manhattan seeking reinstatement and damages. The case provides a detailed look at a key aspect of the post-2008 financial reforms: The work of Fed bank examiners sent to scrutinize the nation’s “Too Big to Fail” institutions. In hours of interviews with ProPublica, the 41-year-old lawyer gave a detailed account of the events that preceded her dismissal and provided numerous documents, meeting minutes and contemporaneous notes that support her claims. Rarely do outsiders get such a candid view of the Fed’s internal operations. MORE

BLOOMBERG VIEW: Probably most people would agree that the people paid by the U.S. government to regulate Wall Street have had their difficulties. Most people would probably also agree on two reasons those difficulties seem only to be growing: an ever-more complex financial system that regulators must have explained to them by the financiers who create it, and the ever-more common practice among regulators of leaving their government jobs for much higher paying jobs at the very banks they were once meant to regulate. Wall Street’s regulators are people who are paid by Wall Street to accept Wall Street’s explanations of itself, and who have little ability to defend themselves from those explanations. Our financial regulatory system is obviously dysfunctional. But because the subject is so tedious, and the details so complicated, the public doesn’t pay it much attention. That may very well change today, for today — Friday, Sept. 26 — the radio program “This American Life” will air a jaw-dropping story about Wall Street regulation, and the public will have no trouble at all understanding it. The reporter, Jake Bernstein, has obtained 46 hours of tape recordings, made secretly by a Federal Reserve employee, of conversations within the Fed, and between the Fed and Goldman Sachs. The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived. MORE

PRO PUBLICA: Former bank examiner Carmen Segarra vaulted into public consciousness earlier this month when she filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York fired her after she refused to go soft on investment banking behemoth Goldman Sachs. As ProPublica has reported, the Fed hired Segarra in late 2011 as part of a group of examiners brought on to monitor systemically important banks in the aftermath of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul. The Fed wanted experts in key areas — such as operations, compliance and credit risk — to examine the “Too Big To Fail” financial institutions. Segarra’s career path seemed to make her a perfect fit. Segarra, 41, was born in Indiana, raised mostly in Puerto Rico and graduated from Harvard. Her father, a doctor, encouraged a life-long love of learning. She is a polyglot, fluent in Spanish and French, conversant in German and Italian. Even in the midst of preparing her lawsuit, she continued with classes in Dutch, which she says is “totally messing up my German.” After getting a master’s degree in French cultural studies at Columbia’s campus in Paris, she went on to law school at Cornell. She then spent 13 years working at different financial firms, including Citigroup and Société Générale. Outside of the office, she held leadership positions in the Hispanic National Bar Association. Hired by the Fed as a legal and compliance specialist, she was told to pay particular attention to how Goldman was complying with the Fed’s requirements on conflicts of interest. Segarra says she was fired after she found that Goldman lacked an adequate company-wide policy to manage conflicts of interest — and after her superiors urged her to change this finding and she refused.aftermath of the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul. The Fed wanted experts in key areas — such as operations, compliance and credit risk — to examine the “Too Big To Fail” financial institutions. Related Stories N.Y. Fed Fired Examiner Who Took on Goldman by Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, Oct. 10 Documents to Remain Open in Examiner’s Lawsuit Against Fed by Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, Oct. 14 NY Fed Fired Examiner Who Took on Goldman by Jake Bernstein, ProPublica, Oct. 15 Podcast: Lawsuit Calls Into Question NY Fed’s Bank Supervision by Minhee Cho, ProPublica, Oct. 24 Segarra’s career path seemed to make her a perfect fit. Segarra, 41, was born in Indiana, raised mostly in Puerto Rico and graduated from Harvard. Her father, a doctor, encouraged a life-long love of learning. She is a polyglot, fluent in Spanish and French, conversant in German and Italian. Even in the midst of preparing her lawsuit, she continued with classes in Dutch, which she says is “totally messing up my German.” After getting a master’s degree in French cultural studies at Columbia’s campus in Paris, she went on to law school at Cornell. She then spent 13 years working at different financial firms, including Citigroup and Société Générale. Outside of the office, she held leadership positions in the Hispanic National Bar Association. Hired by the Fed as a legal and compliance specialist, she was told to pay particular attention to how Goldman was complying with the Fed’s requirements on conflicts of interest. Segarra says she was fired after she found that Goldman lacked an adequate company-wide policy to manage conflicts of interest — and after her superiors urged her to change this finding and she refused. ” target=”_blank”> MORE

RELATED: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are both calling for Congress to investigate the New York Federal Reserve Bank after recently released secret recordings show the central bank allegedly going light on firms it was supposed to regulate. Warren and Brown, both members of the Senate Banking Committee, called for an investigation of the New York Fed after Carmen Segarra, a former examiner at the bank, released secretly recorded tapes that she claims show her superiors telling her to go easy on private banks. Segarra says that she was fired from her job in 2012 for refusing to overlook Goldman’s lack of a conflict of interest policy and other questionable practices that should have brought tougher regulatory scrutiny. After Segarra made the tapes public in a joint report with ProPublica and This American Life on Friday, Warren was quick to call on Congress to take action.“Congress must hold oversight hearings on the disturbing issues raised by today’s whistleblower report when it returns in November, because it’s our job to make sure our financial regulators are doing their jobs,” Warren said in a statement on Friday. “When regulators care more about protecting big banks from accountability than they do about protecting the American people from risky and illegal behavior on Wall Street, it threatens our whole economy. We learned this the hard way in 2008.” MORE

THIS AMERICAN LIFE: In the course of reporting our story with ProPublica, we sent lots of questions to the New York Fed and Goldman Sachs. We wanted to share those with you, along with the institutions’ responses. Our questions to the New York Fed are here. The New York Fed responded with a statement and later this email. Our questions to Goldman Sachs are here. Goldman Sachs’ response is here. And one last document that plays an important role in our story: the confidential report Columbia professor David Beim wrote for the New York Fed in 2009, as it was trying to figure out why it failed to anticipate the financial crisis and what it should do to make sure it wouldn’t fail to catch the next one. Here is a transcript of the full episode. MORE

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BEING THERE: Broken Bells @ The Electric Factory

Sunday, September 28th, 2014


Broken Bells took the stage last night at the Electric Factory on a set up that that looked less like the gear of an acclaimed indie all-star analog pop band and more like the control center of a space ship. The centerpiece of it all, of course, was the silver orb, around which two great names in the music biz would stand—James Mercer, of The Shins and Danger Mouse, famed producer. It was great for anyone in the crowd who was halfway to a parallel universe and already having really deep thoughts about space. Besides the one guy in a wife beater smoking a joint dangerously close to an innocent ten-year-old girl and her mother, the majority of the crowd was various dads wearing khakis. But for those of us who weren’t anatomically capable of being a cool dad and/or sly and determined enough to bring our narcotics through the Electric Factory feel-up, the show was less than mind-blowing. Broken Bells started out on a squeaky clean note with songs from their newest album, After the Disco, the title of which was probably the first indication that we had already missed the fun stuff. Technically speaking, Broken Bells sounded great, able to recreate their well-polished studio recordings note for note, but that made the show predictable and dull. To top it all off, the visual projections behind the band were like a mix of tired, old space-themed screensavers, and close-up, colorful microscope shots of the Ebola virus. After hearing essentially the same song being played about 15 times with a constant lag in energy, the show came to an anticlimactic close. I left thinking Broken Bells was sort of like the robotic band that plays at Chuck-E-Cheese’s, but for dads who spend a lot of miserable days in the office thinking about, like, space, man. – MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ

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NOBLE SAVAGE: Q&A w/ Man Man’s Honus Honus

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview originally published on October 30, 2013

BY JONATHAN VALANIA It’s not easy being the Frank Zappa/Captain Beefheart/Bonzo Dog Band/Butthole Surfers of your generation. Just ask Man Man mainman Ryan Kattner, aka Honus Honus. Five albums into an accidental career as the ringmaster of the weird beard three ring psychosexual psychedelic circus that is Man Man, he sounded a little down-in-the-mouth when  he called last week from the back of a stinky rental van parked behind the club Man Man played later that night in glamorous and exotic Buffalo. “It smells like sweat socks and rotting food that somebody tucked under a seat and forgot about,” he says. “Isn’t it supposed to get easier by the fifth album?”

Ah yes, the fifth album, that would be the new and shockingly tuneful On Oni Pond. After a year of road work in support of On Oni Pond, Man Man are closing out The 40th Street Summer Series with a free show at 6 pm tonight at 40th & Walnut. A homecoming of sorts. Though Kattner currently splits his time between Los Angeles and Fishtown, the band was born here — literally on 9/11, which is when the first Man Man song was written — and they remain a Philly band. Probably our strangest, most beloved export since Larry Fine. Ambassadors of the weird from the city that booed Santa Claus doing us proud. Early on the sound was like cabaret music from Neptune played by wine-mad sex-pygmies. Somehow it stayed on the right side of kooky. Over the course of five albums, and a constantly revolving line-up, the songs, the sonics that surrounds them and, crucially, Kattner’s singing have all become deeper, more dextrous, more soulful. In short, the new Man Man album is a many splendored thing and Kattner is the mustachioed Fishtown Hurdy Gurdy Man who, as it was foretold long ago, comes singing songs of love. DISCUSSED: Losing his mind, his band, powning Wolf Blitzer & Anderson Cooper and making the best album of his career.

PHAWKER: Let’s go back to the very beginning and assume that people reading this won’t be that familiar with your back-story. Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

RYAN KATTNER: I was conceived and birthed in Texas. My dad was in the air force so I moved around a lot. I went to [University of the Arts] in Philly then I made the mistake of starting a band after college.

PHAWKER: [laughs] The mistake of starting a band after college? What do you think you should have done otherwise?

RYAN KATTNER: Well you know, I feel like life offers you a lot of options and I chose the wrong one at a young age. I didn’t go to school for music, I just started playing after college and it was just something to do, a creative outlet. Then it became an all-consuming beast that devoured my youth. And here I am now, in the back of a filthy van in Buffalo, New York. [laughs]

Win Tix To See Broken Bells @ The Electric Factory

Friday, September 26th, 2014


When it comes to music, Danger Mouse (AKA Brian Burton) has been the Zelig at the dawn of the 21st Century, an everywhere man with an uncanny knack for being at the ground zero of the decade’s important pop moments. The Grey Album, wherein the Beatles’ White Album peanut butter got mixed up with Jay-Z’s Black Album chocolate? Check. The Gorillaz sophomore slump-defying second album? Check. Gnarls Barkley’s breakout hit “Crazy”? Check. The Black Keys’ break out hit “Tighten Up”? Been there, done that. The new U2 album? Move over Brian Eno and tell Steve Lillywhite the news. Danger Mouse’s latest zeitgeist-hugging project is Broken Bells, which traffics in shimmering analogue-era pop produced in collaboration with The Shins’ James Mercer. They play Electric Factory on Saturday in support of the new After The Disco, Broken Bells’ study in downtempo chill, with special guest Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen. We have a pair of tickets to giveaway to some lucky Phawker reader. To qualify, all you have to do is follow us on Twitter and then drop us a line at FEED@PHAWKER.COM saying you just did so. Or if you already follow us on Twitter, drop us a line saying as much. Make sure you put the magic words AFTER THE DISCO in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Act now while supplies last. Good luck and godspeed, man!


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BEING THERE: J. Mascis @ World Cafe Live

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Photo by DAN LONG

It was a cool, clear and serene early autumn Thursday in Philadelphia when J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. fame played an uncharacteristically intimate, largely acoustic set downstairs at World Cafe Live in support of his new album, Tied To A Star. And yet, despite this being a picture-perfect setting for an awesome concert by a legendary alt-rock figure, it was probably the most awkward show I’ve ever been to in my life. Seemingly everyone in the 200-plus person crowd was aged north of 35. Everyone except me. So, I wondered if it was just me and asked a few of my fellow audience members what they made of it. Did they find it awkward at all? But after getting answers like “NO WAY” or “You just don’t understand how he gets down,” I found myself more puzzled than ever. But I guess you have to understand the show from my perspective. First of all — and what I am about to disclose may negate the need for a second of all or a third of all — I was born two years AFTER You’re Living All Over Me was released. But since then, I have been to a lot of shows and it is invariably some combination of talent, effort and establishing a connection with the audience that keeps everyone involved and happy. The artist usually comes out with lots of energy, greets the crowd, maybe even slaps a hand or two just to get people into the show. Instead, Mascis just came out, sat down, put a book on the music stand and, without saying a word, launched into “Listen To Me,” from his 2011 solo album, Several Shades Of Why. He stops after a few bars and says “It got really quiet in here,” then continues on for four songs — “Me Again,” “Little Furry Things,” “Ammaring” and “Every Morning” — without even looking up except to take a big gulp from his beverage. As I looked around the room, I saw around 20-30 people actually moving to the music, which I found a bit weird, given the listlessness of it all. Also, you know how when you’re at a show and you hear the first three seconds to a song you like and the crowd starts cheering in recognition of and excitement for the song that’s about to be performed? That happened only happened three times last night during a set that lasted about an hour and a half. After his last song he encored with an electric, and admittedly electrifying, version of “Flying Cloud,” rocked out, mumbled a “Thanks” and walked off. Later, after I’d expressed my confusion about what I had just witnessed, my editor explained to me that trying didn’t become popular until long after Mascis’ career had begun and by then it was too late to teach the old dog some new tricks. – CLAYTON RUSSELL

SECOND OPINION: Funny how two people can see the same show, but have such different views on it. Where I was, people were singing along to almost every song. Lots of hootin’ & hollerin’. It was weird – J. was sort of a Rain Man version of Bruce Springsteen with the acoustic set. No doubt, he’s a strange bird. But there is no denying J.’s absolute mastery of the guitar. The man is a fucking beast. An innovative, proficient, dreamy, and ballsy guitarist. One third of the time, he kicked in the distortion/overdrive on the acoustic & shredded. Good show. And, FWIW, actually came out to do an encore even after house lights started to come up. – DAN LONG

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CINEMA: No, Not That Notebook

Friday, September 26th, 2014


THE NOTEBOOK (1913, directed by János Szász, 109 minutes, Hungary)

BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC When I first saw the title The Notebook on the new release roster I thought, “Oh boy, a ten year anniversary re-release of the Ryan Gosling weeper?” Nope. This Hungarian import, the country’s submission for last year’s “Best Foreign Film” Oscar, couldn’t be further away from that romantic crowd-pleaser. Set in the Hungary at the end of WW II, the slow-building thriller is a pitch black tale of twin boys learning of life’s dark side as the madness of war sweeps through the countryside. The Notebook tells the story of how war shapes a society, not just in the visible ways but invisibly in the psyches of the children who witness it.

John Boorman’s 1987 film Hope & Glory had a similar premise, showing how a boy witnessed WW II as a liberated landscape in which war allowed British children to run free while their parents sweat the big stuff. Director János Szász (working from a script adapted from Agota Kristof’s 1987 novel) sees the war’s effect differently. Here a pair of thirteen year-old twins (played by real-life twins László & András Gyémánt) are left to their own devices to absorb the moral ambiguity of cataclysm. Left to live on a small farm with their cruel and maybe murderous maternal grandmother, the twins discover that there is no one to notice if they slowly and methodically strip themselves of all human compassion.

FRIEND OF P: Q&A w/ Matt Sharp Of The Rentals

Thursday, September 25th, 2014


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Rentals play Union Transfer tonight in support of their fuggin’ excellent new album, Lost In Alphaville. The Rentals are for all intents and purposes the creative vehicle for ex-Weezer bassist Matt Sharp and a revolving cast of supporting players. This time out that cast includes Patrick Carney from the Black Keys on drums and the lovely ladies from Lucius laying down betwitching backing vocals. A couple weeks ago we got Matt Sharp on the phone to talk about the band and the new album. We wound up talking at length about Bangkok, where he was born, his secret agent man dad, and how impossible it is to nail down the Black Keys drummer. For the sake of expediency, we’ll let this snippet of Pitchfork’s astute review of Lost In Alphaville, which sums up neatly all the back story and power dynamics at play in the Rentals saga. To wit:

Rock bands inevitably get old and start to suck, but Weezer are an exceptional case of this. It’s not as if, since resurfacing from their post-Pinkerton hiatus back in 2001, they gradually turned into a less interesting, more pedestrian version of their younger selves (a la the Rolling Stones). They’ve intentionally become a total, aggressive affront to them, as if their entire post-millennial career has been one extended, James Franco-worthy performance-art stunt in baiting anyone whoever took them seriously. It’s hard to think of another band that has so eagerly created such a chasm between what they first presented themselves to be (in Weezer’s case, a Pavement that could sell records) and what they turned out to be (a Smash Mouth that sold even more). And that cognitive dissonance is weighing on the hearts and minds of old-school fans all the more heavily this year, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Blue Album while bracing for the next inevitably disappointing chapter in the history of a band that long ago stopped writing great songs in favor of writing dumb songs about writing great songs. It may be a complete coincidence that Matt Sharp is dropping his first proper Rentals album in 15 years smack dab in the middle of this fray, but it’s a welcome thrown-bone nonetheless for those who were first drawn to Weezer for their winsome underdog charm (which got pissed away forevermore sometime during the first talkbox solo on “Beverly Hills”). It’s hard to say if Sharp was solely responsible for the enduring greatness of Weezer’s first two albums (though he has taken the band to court to essentially prove as much), but it’s no exaggeration to suggest they were never the same after he left in ’98. MORE


PHAWKER: Going all the way back to the beginning—you were born in Bangkok. What did your parents do that you wound up being born in Bangkok?

MATT SHARP: What my father did that took us there was really funny ‘cause people seem to think he was some kind of double agent/undercover C.I.A./James Bond-like guy. But, he was just over there during the Vietnam War and he was interviewing insurgents in the the prisons and basically just trying to find out why they’re doing what they do.

PHAWKER: Hmmm, that sure sounds pretty CIA. What agency did he work for? Or don’t you want to tell me?

MATT SHARP: I can’t, uh, no I can’t tell you specifically. I really don’t understand the inner workings of it at all. I was only there for a year. My family was there for four years and essentially, like, we went from living in the most exotic place on earth to moving to the most un-exotic place on earth which was Arlington, Virginia, which is where we moved when I was one years old. I got a chance to go back to, Thailand. It was one of the last shows that I had played with Weezer actually and it was an incredible experience to just go back to Bangkok. The touring company we were with at the time, from what I could tell, seemed to be interlinked with the mafia of some sort. Whenever we went people were terrified of the company we were keeping. I think they actually represented Bangkok in a way ‘cause it feels like there’s just such a dark and corrupt underbelly to [laughing] the city of my birth. I remember they escorted us off the plane and right through customs and security checkpoints where the guards had M-16s and nobody said a word. When we got out of the airport and there was a reporter there who had the big light on the camera and the first thing they did was put the camera on me and say ‘How does it feel to be home?’

PHAWKER: Let’s talk about the new record, why is it called Lost in Alphaville? It’s a reference to the Godard’s sci-fi dystopia, correct?

MATT SHARP: Not really, but I know that movie quite well and it would make sense that it should. The tone of that movie and the tone of the album, they both have a sort of moodier science-fiction aspect. In line with that sort of dystopian kind of future that’s sort of in that scene. So it makes sense. It’s more to do with just reflecting on a relationship I had with somebody and just sort of being lost in that place where it all began, you know? Before I recorded a note, I knew what the title of the album was, I knew what the order of the songs would be, knew what the artwork for the album would be and did that before we started recording anything.

PHAWKER: Let’s talk about some of the guest musicians on the album. Let’s start with Pat Carney from the Black Keys who plays great drums on the album. How does that come about? How or why is Pat Carney the drummer on The Rentals?

MATT SHARP: Many years earlier, Carney had asked his manager if he could get in touch with my manager and then if we could get in touch with each other. I, at that point, had barely even heard of The Black Keys, you know? They were just coming up and starting to play bigger and bigger places, I guess more well known but I didn’t know much about them particularly. This is probably all the way back to 2005 or 2006 or something like that? Quite a few years ago and my manager said “Hey, this guy from this band The Black Keys wants to talk to you about something is it cool if I give him your information?” and I said “Yeah, sure” you know and I found some of their music and listened to it for a second and moments later got just a brief e-mail later from Carney saying a few nice things about The Return of the Rentals. How maybe that, I think it sparked his interest in the whole synthesizers thing and all that which was sort of surprising because they’re such a blues-based Americana band and wrote some very nice things and so at the very end of it he said “But I have this idea of how we could—of this band I would like for us to work on together. I don’t know if you’d be interested.” So I wrote back “Thanks for those nice words and yeah what’s this idea? Why don’t you tell me about it?” and then he just disappeared and didn’t reply back. So I wrote to him again “Hey you know whatever let’s try to check in. Never heard back from you thought I’d hear what you were thinking about on that idea” and I still never heard back but he never wrote back. The Black Keys came to Las Angeles a couple times here and there so I wrote back to him again “Hey I heard you’re in town, maybe we could get a cup of coffee, talk about that idea” and nothing back. By that point I was like I was actually like “Eff that guy.” Years later he wrote to me and was like “Hey, by the way, I still haven’t forgot about that idea and I look forward to talking about it.” Then I wrote back, a very brief pitch because of the situation before, like “Cool, what are you thinking?” you know and, once again, nothing. So, years and years and years went by and here I am working on my album Lost in Alphaville kind of up against a wall, I can’t figure out how to make a couple of these sounds work and I figure “Oh, what the hell. I’ll write him and see if by some chance he’ll be interested on working on this.” So I wrote to him, something just very brief “Hey I don’t know if this would be of any interest to you but since you never told me what the hell this idea was, I have an idea for you playing drums on the new Rentals album.” He wrote back, you know, like a minute later “Absolutely, let’s do it. Get here, get on a plane, let’s go. Come to Nashville, let’s do it now, let’s do it this week. Let’s do it tomorrow, whatever.” The next thing I know I’m in Nashville standing in his home. We’ve never known each other, and two seconds later we’re in the studio recording together. It kind of changed, you know, like that and then I brought those ideas we were working on together back to LA and tried to figure out how they fit into this whole insanely layered album that we were working on, called him up a little while later like “Hey, I got good news and bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?” The good news was that the stuff that we had done together sounded amazing, you know, and the bad news is that it made everything else sound like shit. He really changed the direction of the album and he really just helped just, like, take the car and turn it in a different direction.

PHAWKER: And what about Jess and Holly from Lucius? How do they get into the picture? They sound fantastic on the record, they’re such interesting women and great singers, etc, etc. Tell me how you started collaborating with them.

MATT SHARP: This is probably is a good place to wrap up the thing because they were literally the last part of the album. Officially with this record the sort of guiding principle that I had that I’m going to try to bring us to a place that I want us to go and if we can’t get there, no matter how far we’ve gone down the road, then we’ll just stop. We just won’t release it. So if I can’t get Lost in Alphaville in this place where it belonged, if I don’t respect it that way then it just won’t be. So, by the time Jess and Holly came to be a part of the album the album was essentially done in every way. All the music was basically, the whole album was right there on the very line of being done. My only feeling was I wanted the exact right female voices for the album to make it feel complete. The role of the female singers is really a crucial thing and it’s a really odd thing in the sense that the women that sang on the Rentals records of the past. This thing is it’s not an insignificant contribution, it’s a very significant part of the album and it’s not really a backup role, they’re not singing backup vocals but at the same time they’re not singing the lead part either. They have to be women who have the confidence to be able to contribute as a major part of the album yet still kind of fit in with it. Honestly, Lucius is maybe my favorite album of the last…long time. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of their band and especially their voices and being in the studio with them was one of the best experiences of my life because I was just discovering this new thing I was completely swept up in and inspired by. Those two women just knocked my head off.

PHAWKER: Well, congratulations on the album, it’s awesome, looking forward to seeing you guys when you get to town and good luck with all this.

MATT SHARP: Awesome, I really appreciate it. This album is such an important thing to me and to everybody that played on it and I just want to be able to share it with as many people as possible and I really appreciate you taking the time to help us do that, it means a lot to me.


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GEEK SQUAD: Holy Horny Teen Boy Bait, Batman!

Thursday, September 25th, 2014


BY STEPHANIE SHAMP GEEKS SPACE CORRESPONDENT Have you ever realized that you’ve been looking at something for years but have never really seen it? I’m talking about those hidden messages we always glance over but never really notice until someone points it out, like the Starbucks cup hidden in every frame of Fight Club or the arrow pointing from A to Z in the Amazon logo. For as long as I have been a fan of comics there has always been this look-but-don’t-see mentality towards the scantily-clad sexism of comic books starring women, specifically the cover art. If you point it out to the comic book community people immediately become annoyed and defensive. ‘It’s always been like that, what do you expect?’ they say,  or ‘Men’s bodies get distorted too!’ But these excuses don’t really apply to the way female-led comics are sold or address how it could at all be detrimental to the comic.

The comic book industry has always been a judge-by-the-cover business; this should come as a surprise to literally no one. Cover art serves the dual purpose of summarizing in a single image the issue’s story arc for the acolytes while seducing new initiates into the fold. Then there are the variant covers for the same issue which can have legendary guest artists, holographic or 3D art, promote a company-wide event—all these amazing little extras drive up sale prices and potentially draw in new readers to keep the series going. Covers can make or break a comic for readers, publishers, and, both directly and indirectly, movie or television studios. So why is it that while male superheroes appear on their covers imposing and heroic, ready to leap into danger and kick ass, female superheroes are drawn in vulnerable or seductive positions, able to defy the anatomical limits of the human spine to give horny teenage boys that perfect view of tits and ass?

THE ORWELLS: Halloween All Year

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

I love the smell of teen spirit in the morning — smells like victory. Great song, great title, great video. Who says youth is wasted on the young? They play Underground Arts October 13th.

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SMUS: Tax Inversion = You Pay Our Share

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

Illustration via FINANCIAL TIMES click HERE to enlarge

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Yet another tax-avoidance tumor is metastasizing in the belly of the corporate beast. The perps themselves refer to it as “tax inversion” (truth be told, they’d really prefer that the matter not be referred to at all) but please feel free to recognize it for what it really is: Big Greed’s most brazen effort to date to avoid its patriotic responsibility and shove the nation’s tax burden even farther up the ass of a dwindling middle class! Corporate apologists like to point out that America has the highest corporate tax rate (35%) on the planet, but what they don’t say is that, thanks to tax law chicanery, few if any corporation pays close to 35% of their earnings, and many pay no taxes at all.

The only reason why any corporation is paying anything even approaching that rate is they didn’t buy the right lobbyists and/or politicians (or their accounting department is utterly incompetent). Yet, day in and day out we hear Republicans pissing and moaning about the debilitating effect our “astronomical” corporate tax rate is having on American competitiveness. Don’t be deceived. It’s just part of the Grand Old Pretext the GOP circulates to hide their complicity in securing lower effective tax rates for their “more generous” corporate campaign contributors.

A splendid example of the absurdity of America’s political/corporate tax climate is New York state’s current 140 MILLION DOLLAR campaign to attract more corporate tax chiselers! That’s right folks, New York state’s already over-burdened tax payers are being asked to bear the cost of that promotion as well as the cost of resultant lost tax revenues. Under the state’s proposal, if you’re willing to set up your corporation in the Empire State, the state will exempt you from ALL taxes for the next 10 YEARS! Hell, that bears repeating. Never mind the cost of providing access to utilities, police and fire protection, or even construction of roads to get everyone to and from said place of business, the state will exonerate you from paying ANY New York taxes whatsoever for the next 10 YEARS! Holy corporate irresponsibility, Batman!

Via BuzzFeed

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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