Monday, December 6, 2010

There was only one day in 2010.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

PJs and Blessings Past

If my life were a recording artist, it'd be primed to release the "mature effort"; I've just moved into a house (which I really like), taken on most of the debts incurred during the last Mothfight tour, and now I'm trying to disentangle the knot left from Jess' move to Brooklyn and our keyboardist Kelli's pregnancy. Both will continue to work and tour with us, but it'll require a hereto untested level of coordination and balance; one that's known only to mothers and CEOs. My vacation-band, Literature (aka Magic Fox Shit) is about to embark on a brief respite which will tear me away from my Adult Situation, for better or for worse and my cat, Noi.

When our culture becomes so self-obsessed that we each inherit our own overzealous biographer, mine might say that this was the point in which my ocean receded as far back from the shore as possible


so as to make a tidal wave.

I intend to append the following songs to this post so check back.

Kevin Ayers - Song for Insane Times
Laura Gibson - Funeral Song

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Music/Pizza Meltdown: Indie's Upper Crust

Stephy B. and I have put together a celebration of Austin's independent pizzerias. It'll be held during SXSW at Flatbed Press on Wednesday, March 18th.

Stephanie's uploaded a sampler at Check it out, there are some quality sounds to be heard.

We'll be having free drinks from Saint Arnold Brewery and Tito's Vodka all day. Come early for hot slices from East Side Pies, Salvation Pizza and Slices & Ices.

3:00 Blank Tapes (CA)
3:45 Treasure Mammal (AZ)
4:30 A Faulty Chromosome (TX)
5:15 XYX (Mexico)
6:00 Pterodactyl (NY)
6:45 Psychedelic Horseshit (OH)
7:30 Moth!Fight! (TX)
8:15 Evangelicals (OK)
9:00 Abe Vigoda (CA)
9:45 Crime Novels (NY)
10:00 Best Friends Forever (MN)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fruit of Paradise (1968)

Czech new wave film from '68

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Let Me Spoil You

M!F! alum and new Bishop Allen bassist Keith P. corners bad cinema, spoiling the endings to films you should live without.

Let Me Spoil You

Keith was the original Patent Medicinist and is literally a poster child for Moth Fight:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Edward James Poolside Party Mix

Thanks to the midday Sun for hosting me as I write this. I've never depended on a stranger kindness.

I know compulsive behavior and passion have two distinct meanings but lately I feel like I've been incapable of distinguishing between the two. It's a terrible euphoria, acting without will and to your own detriment because the whole coded world translates into a costly song that must be written or a broom-of-a-girl you have to talk to (even though she lives on a steep hill and you're a terrible climber) or some-such nonsense. I've mentioned an unfinished Moth!Fight! song here before; one that uses the character of H.H. Holmes to prescribe meaning to this aspect of the human experience. I'm beginning to think he's not the best fabric to cover this armchair discussion in that he didn't experience any sort of financial, social, or emotional ruin due to his compulsion. His passion is of a different currency than Thomas Chatterton, Sarah Winchester, or Gary Wilson. Those denizens of creation that let blood so as to paint with the right shade of red! I'd like to hold a listening party with them, for them. It'd be an open invitation to everyone's romantic heroes and we'd absorb those whose style is art brut and whose medium is life itself.

Question overheard at this party:
Betty Page, were you bound for the promised land?

Friday, November 14, 2008

All About His Throat!

Image by Gabriela Fridriksdottir .: Tetralogia Series

M!F! helped itself to a heartening practice tonight; one brimming with clicks, whistles, synth-aesthesia, et al.

To collaborate with the ghosts in those machines rather than warring with them... now follows some well-earned simplicity. Pardon the disjointedness.

Woody Guthrie - I'll Eat You, I'll Drink You

Buy the album from Insound

As always, if anyone wants me to remove this mp3 for any reason, please contact me

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Western Vinyl Advert

Western Vinyl had a sort of showcase at Emo's Lounge in Austin on Saturday night. I went to see Voices and Organs, who ended up canceling. All was well, though, as I caught most of MOM, featuring Joel North (who's been a friend since high school). I had to run after their set, missing what was undoubtedly a fantastic performance by the good people in Balmorhea, because their was a sleepover party at the Austin's Children's Museum.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scenes from "Hausu" (1977)


As I was going up the stair
I saw a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish, he’d stay away.

-William Hughes Mearns

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Gal Sal

Just finished a six hour practice wherein Mike, Clarke, Kelli, and I wrote a bunch of MIDI madness for a new song that I hope won't be called "H.H. Holmes". It interpolates a verse of the old revival number, "I'm Bound for the Promised Land", which fits in nicely with our covers of "My Gal Sal" and "When You're a Long, Long Way from Home" (a summer jam dating back to 1914). This was our penance for canceling our gig in Lubbock tonight with Xiu Xiu(!) due to poorly scheduled flights. Sincere apologies to those who we let down. We let ourselves down too, y'know?

We also just got back some pics from our photoshoot with Aubrey Edwards last month. Normally I wouldn't push promotional pictures or anything of the sort, but we actually put some effort into these...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moral Animals v. Animal Morals

Austin radio station KVRX invited me to DJ their End-of-the-year Space-themed much-hyphenated Prom earlier this month. Here's a soundboard from some of my set. Enjoy!

Live at the Space Prom

As a rejoinder, I donned a tiara and doused myself in ketchup trying to affect an "Interplanetary Carrie" vibe, but the red lighting shining down on me rendered my efforts futile. I just ended up looking like I had a unmentionable skin condition.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mothfight Seeks Percussionist!

Feel free to repost this information anywhere!

Do you play drums/fiddle with electronics?
Live in Austin, TX?
Would you be willing to practice twice a week?
Tour twice a year?
Would you like to learn and write some HAWT beats?

You might be just what we're looking for! We're seeking a full time drummer to help us get tour-ready (tour would be mid-Fall).

Influences include: Jodorowsky, Caribou/Manitoba, Matthew Barney, Olivia Tremor Control, Phil Collins, Steve Drozd, SMiLE, Merzbow, Jeremy Barnes (Hawk and a Hacksaw/Neutral Milk Hotel), J Dilla, The Octopus Project, Dylan Thomas, Need New Body, Incredible String Band, Sifl and Olly, Phil Spector, Samite, 77 Boadrum, Brian Chippendale, Jamie Thompson

If you're interested, write us at

Hope y-y-y-y-you're well!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Permanent Installation I

Casey Jex Smith, "Abinadi"

Monica Canilao, "Just Like Weeds We Will Grow"

Monica Canilao, "We Can Live Together"

David Hochbaum, "Garden of the Dispossessed"

Kareena Zerefos, "Rose Tinted Glasses"

Caroline Hwang, "Guilty Crush"

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Cisum and Her Boys

As a child I'd go to bed every night listening to the local dance station's "Top 5 at 9'" (which informed my purchases of cassette singles every week after receiving my chore money). This led to a pretty hefty collection of tapes from Ace of Base, the Real McCoy, Ini Kamoze (whose derivation of Wilson Pickett's "Land of a Thousand Dances" beguiled me), and the like. My tape collection (which became more diverse once I found rock music), along with my stereo, were the only possessions of mine that I really attached any importance to and the arrangement of my room was as such that when friends came over, the first thing they'd see was a wall dedicated to a bookshelf of cheap plastic reel-to-reels and a well-dusted stereo. Maybe there was a little pride in that, but it felt more like an attempt to express my respect and love for music via pre-adolescent feng-shui.

Music was the common language I shared with my peers. In truth, I didn't understand how people maintained fluent conversations about much else (except academics). This is no conceit; I was superhumanly ungraceful in trying to relate to other kids and would spend busrides to-and-from school listening to endlessly re-dubbed mixtapes. Often these tapes were carefully constructed by waiting patiently for the radio to play a series of particular songs (when I managed to snag a seldom-played hit, I'd use that tape as a master for other mixes until it was inaudible). Occasionally I'd become so obsessed with a song that I'd save up and purchase a CD and record a looped tape. This was the case with U2's "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" and Duran Duran's "Come Undone". When I ran out of batteries, I'd spend a few days singing to myself.

One day in Second Grade, we boarded a reserve bus that was temporarily replacing our usual transport which'd apparently broken down earlier in the day. When I hopped on, I heard the beginning strains of Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" emitting in pristine fidelity from an onboard speaker system. For the first time, I began (hyper)actively engaging my busmates, asking if they knew the song and if they'd seen the video with Eddie Murphy as the Pharaoh that'd premiered on FOX a few weeks earlier. The driver turned it off and I began begging him to let us finish listening to the entire song. I had the whole bus on my side and he said that as long as we didn't tattle he'd let us listen the whole ride home. Schoolmates who'd just as soon fight for fighting's sake were suddenly talking about Boyz II Men and asking "have you heard Shai" and I was talking with my neighbors for the first time ever.

Music is still very much the language through which I communicate:

Roswell Sacred Harp Singers - Jubilee
BUY V/A - "I Belong to This Band: 85 Years of Sacred Harp Recordings"

Earth Opera - The Red Sox Are Winning

BUY The Earth Opera - "S/T"

The Blood Group - Odin

BUY The Blood Group - "Everything Forgotten Gathers At the Ceiling"

Elf Power - The Sun is Forever
BUY Elf Power - "The Winter is Coming"

Iran - San Diego
BUY Iran - "s/t" (search for Iran)

I Belong to this Band continues my fascination with Sacred Harp Music. It really does a lot to capture the intensity of a Sacred Harp group. Earth Opera's "The Red Sox are Winning" was a staple of all my 60's psych-pop mixes in high school, along with Elf Power's mournful "The Sun is Forever". In fact, I've never heard another Elf Power song that comes close to breaking my heart like this cut from their "Winter is Coming" LP. The Blood Group's "Odin" is also draped in melancholy, though the sadness is interwoven with some intensely sinister poetry. The production on this song is devastating and haunting. Lastly is Iran! Both of their albums are folk-noise masterpieces and Josh from the Evangelicals tells me that they've finished another disc that'll be released sometime soon.

If anyone wants these mp3s removed for any reason, please contact me!

Mothfight has been in the studio (on and off) for a month now and we're only just finishing up one song (though the rest will be decidedly less "produced"). I'd very much like to record some 30 songs and try to stitch them together in some sort of grand symphonic gambit but that might prove to be a bit ambitious. We'll see if we can't assemble something __________.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Holy Day, mk. 1

I'm leading us on a legend-trip to that Spring-Picked bedroom we found in the wood two years ago. You're restless and spooked, riding in the passenger seat; knowing it's quicker if we use this transport but silently criticizing me for driving. When I drive, I assume this unnatural intensity and focus that makes it very difficult to be a passenger. It doesn't help that, for hours now, we've been seeing the same indicators along the road informing us that, while we're almost there, we're also (strangely) traveling on a circuit.

Once the hour passes midnight, the frustration becomes apparent and you ask me to stop. I do and just as you're about to take the reins and leave me in the wood, I remember that the only way to get to our bedroom is to walk. So we do, roughly at the same pace. Sometimes you lead, sometimes I do, and sometimes we hold hands and the landscape becomes more familiar. This is how we discover.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Little Miss 1565

We assemble on the golf course after-hours, preparing the field with Christmas lights, bike reflectors, and loud kerchiefs. Dauud and Andreas become interchangeable silhouettes in the cold, unlit field. Forgive the poetry; it's just that, after a few games of Capture the Flag, your body has atoned for all the wrong you've done to it and you want to go tell it from the mountain. That paradoxical cleanliness you feel after driving yourself to exhaustion in the dirt with a good, close circle. In fact, this was how I came to know Jason. We'd met in Knoxville, TN (and again in Baltimore ... and every time his band, Cue, played with the Octopus Project after that) but it was only after Toto began organizing these weekly games that the extent of his good character made itself known to me.

When he initially began providing percussion for Mothfight shows, I was astounded by how he could fill frequencies as well as holes in the music. Percussion has always been a struggle for me to orchestrate, so to meet someone who will sit and talk things out with you...

That said, the logistics of performing these compositions in a live setting has grown increasingly knotty. I've enjoyed a burst of focus and inspiration over these past 6 months; the fruits of which, though not ready to take out of the oven, I'm still cautiously proud of. However, because I want every individual part to serve an integral function, it's become increasingly difficult to practice for a performance without the full 9 piece band present (and even then...) And once everybody's together in a room, trying to coordinate an experiment, something that always has the potential to fail, might be interpreted as a waste of time if it doesn't yield immediate results. Then there's the challenge of notating samples, circuit bent toys, and the like. The prospect of going into the studio and realizing this music excites me; to have it finally jump forth from the staffs and staffs and pages and pages of sheet music that litter our practice space floor and line its walls.

This was the impetus behind the group. I'd no means to demo these tunes and, even if I did, I'm not proficient enough to record worthy takes of many of the instruments needed to make the songs materialize. Not without an inexhaustible amount of time at my disposal anyways. The only opportunity I really had to hear my own songs would be to schedule a show (because that would be the only night that every player was certain to show up). The more shows that are scheduled, however, the more you rely on the same people to play these parts, which gives them more license to annotate the work.

That's why I've held onto the new material until it's ready to go. Musically, I'd hope to capture some of the immensity and joy of standing in the middle of a Sacred Harp group. Though, I'm not certain, it feels as if there is a certain cohesiveness to all the pieces. It'd be nice if the lyrics reflected that, though verse is a whole different struggle.

George - Slow Wave Sleep.mp3
BUY George - The Magic Lantern

The Green Pajamas - Deadly Nightshade
BUY The Green Pajamas - Narcotic Kisses

"Slow Wave Sleep" by George is such an intimate song that it's almost counter-intuitive to share it. It is one of my favorite songs, though, and I often find myself obsessed with The Magic Lantern. Ryan Schreiber turned me onto "Deadly Nightshade" a few years ago. I haven't actually listened to the rest of Narcotic Kisses but, whilst in Marfa, this song floored me, leading to a few months of repeated listening.

As always, if anyone wants me to take these MP3s down for any reason, please contact me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Stumbling upon an archive of my middle school poetry, I was fascinated by how much better I understood the writing now. At the time, every line was born of anxiety and countless revision. So much so that I often lost track of the work as a whole, a fact which I covered up with grandiosity and a thick synonym-acon. Now that the situations addressed in the poems are farther behind me, I'm quite astonished that the words make any sense whatsoever. Keep in mind, the writing is ingenuously angsty and bloated with puerility, reading like Billy Corgan's kitchen magnet prose. But these confessionals were all that I had and, at the time, I was nervous that such literary attempts to create order out of my life actually indicated some sort of schizophrenia. "Acid literation" as Mike Love would've (somewhat inappropriately) called it.

Finished reading The Worst Hard Time which read like a passion play for the Dust Bowl and it's inhabitants (minus the passion).

Rhonda and I (mostly Rhonda) just finished the Spirit Photos from our Victorian Pageant. I'm absolutely astounded at how well they turned out!

Oh, I was asked by Asthmatic Kitty to contribute an article celebrating Houston, TX (to coincide with our October 20th performance at their Unusual Animals party) and came up with a little writ of absurdity entitled "The Houston Parachronist: Top Stories of the Year 1905". It felt good to write for an audience again as I haven't for some time now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gwar Gum Wrappers Delight Fully

Well, I was in a low mood last time I wrote here. I think that bloomed from having just returned from tour and my body's decision to take a temporary vacation from composing music. Things are beginning to stabilize and the spring is returning to my stride just in time for an autumnal bloom.

I became acquainted with Baby Bash's "Cyclone" last night while combing the dials for Chamillionaire's awful(ly curious) new single, "Hip Hop Police". Unseen and unknowable circumstances transfigured the song, dispelling the production's garnish, permitting a glimpse of some truly exciting explorations of the human voice. These moments are the affirming ones. I listened to the track again today on Baby Bash's myspace and it didn't overwhelm like it did last night but I'm sure I can crack it's code again.

In preparation for Moth!Fight!'s October 6th Victorian Pageant in Austin, I've been researching turn-of-the-century Forteana with surprising ardor. So, when Michael Kaufmann from Asthmatic Kitty/Unusual Animals asked me to contribute an essay for the label's sidebar, I relished the opportunity to affect the sensational language of Victorian-era news papers. I don't know when the piece will run but Michael, whose unique recording project, Future Rapper, deserves adjectives like "cerebral" but dismantles the trappings of "backpacker hip hop", will be playing with us in Houston on October 20th!

I know I need to upload some mp3s soon. Soon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thomas Chatterton / Guts

Confidence arrives in many forms. I'm seeking an earned confidence that'll balm my soul, reintroducing me to moral obligation and the personal church. I want this to be found in Harry Houdini, the Voynich Manuscripts, Korperwelten, Laurie Anderson, Hope, and the mythology of noise.

The best songs come from early morning melodies and, if those are inaccessible, then you need to exercise the patience she requires.

I missed a tornado in Brooklyn by nearly a week. I need to read the People of Paper. Thanks to Todd, Angel (Dirty Projectors), John (Prince and Pearl), and Lucas (Nonhorse) for being so kind in Brooklyn. Good on us all.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Selig Mary; Slept Under Our Sheets

Upon driving back from Marfa with Jess, we saw the formation of an unwonted dust devil against the backdrop of mountains and desert. For me, what makes phenomena like this so wonderful are their rarity. In the economy of experience, seeing a tower of wind and sand struggling to maintain its form in the nation's mountainous purlieu (especially from the vantage point we had that day) is worth so much.

Today is the eve of our first real tour. Tomorrow, Moth!Fight! will leave port; the jaunt christening us as a "real band". As we make our final preparations, I'm consumed by a spirit of wonder remarkably similar to that which I felt driving home from Marfa. The band (and everyone in it), the tour, the reality that we're beginning to release music and that people seem interested in all of it... it just appeared.

I've to admonish myself not to expect it but I can't shake the hope that, as we drive through the plains on our way to Chicago, I hope to see a real tornado (my first!)
The way things have been developing, it seems like it just may happen.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

This Summer Mechanism

My muscles are wracked. Working inside for 12 hours a day stiffens the body, makes the eyes adjust poorly to natural light, and feeds neuroses that make it difficult to keep up a normal conversation. That isn't to say that I haven't enjoyed working from home o'er these past few months; there are simply some negative physical symptoms of a hard work ethic. As a result, I've considered resuming my work as a full-time preschool teacher. Having sporadically submitted to substitute teaching at this wonderfully progressive daycare near my house, I've noticed that I always seem to walk away from a day at the school feeling better-adjusted.

My last teaching post was hardly as therapeutic. The children, many of whom had physical and emotional disabilities, suffered at the hands of teachers whose rigid authortarianism (with 3 year olds for God's sake!), cluelessness, and professional bitterness permeated most of their actions. Many kids were written off as having ADD, autism, or anger proneness before they could even speak. This took the pressure off of the teachers to appropriately guide the child's social development. I still don't understand why people who don't enjoy this line of work continue to do it; it poisons everyone involved.

Working in that environment was a daily trial. I awoke each morning feeling dreadful and, upon returning home in the evening, was haunted by all the poor situations I'd dealt with that day. Luckily, about six months into my tenure, a new batch of fresh-minded teachers was hired, resolving a lot of the issues and allowing me to quit with peace-of-mind.

Now, Mothfight is in the process of saving up money to go on tour and I'd jump at the chance to spend a few months out in the sun with the kids before leaving for the road. The cost of our South Austin practice space has been steadily rising as well and, though we're probably going to move our rehearsals to a theatre down the street from my house(!), it'd be nice to live more comfortably in the meantime. That'd make me less available for work at Gallery Lombardi but it'd be steady and secure.

Right now we're tracking for a demo CD-R with Michael Landon and Seth from Super Pop Records. Finding a way to best capture our orchestration has always proved to be a bit difficult and I think this has definitely been an opportunity to learn about ourselves and how these songs should sound. This'll be our millionth attempt at Murphysboro 1925, a song composed of three "vignettes" (Crickets/Schools/Tornado) that I've had kicking around since high school. I never knew exactly what it was supposed to sound like until playing it with Mothfight. It's a very difficult piece to record/perform because it ends with these jabs of arrhythmia (the "tornado segment" as we refer to it) punctuated by this huge refrain.

Musically, it's supposed to be a sound poem telling the story of the Tri-State Tornado of 1925.

Tellingly, I only finished the lyrics up last week:

Murphysboro 1925
Go home to Murphysboro
Inkwells and useless kids line the roads

Comb the farms for bits of hair
(Tomorrow I brew, Today I bake
And then the child, away I'll take)

This is not night
Girls who leave their music boxes on from daybreak 'till night
Would mind to keep their windows locked tight

We've a rough mix of it up on our Myspace and Virb pages. It's not quite there yet but you can see what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Virgin Verse

If anyone wants this mp3 removed for any reason, please contact me and I'll take it down.

My parents just moved from my childhood home in the rural outskirts of Austin to one of the city's new gated communities. It's the type of home that they've always wanted (and deserved) so I'm happy for them but sad to lose the countless forts, secret paths, and buried treasures kept hidden by the seemingly endless acres of unclaimed copse that bordered our backyard.

From their move, this week's Springtime poetry special on A Prairie Home Companion, and my first viewing of the excellent 1973 film, The Wicker Man, I've been onset with a strange tenderness for youthful pagan revelry. Chris (of Car Stereo Wars), Christie, and I have a weekly writing club wherein each of us reads aloud different essays, short stories, scripts, et al. that we've been working on. This week I chose to read a poem:

What the skull-boys discovered, in summery lastingness
Agape boulevards locked in directionless tidewater,
Came about in May
In the pregnancy of the camps, wooden swords, and abashed breasts
Where they couldn't speak
until appeared clover begging their cloven hooves to stumble deeper into theater
Was a path unobstructed by prose
that could never be bankrupted