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Tonight is a second show here at Hymie’s for punk favorites Kitten Forever and a first for OAKS, the Minneapolis duo who released their first full-length record with Modern Radio Record Label earlier this year. Animal Life‘s eight tracks are weightier than our usual impression of two-member bands, to the extent we’re impressed by the inventiveness of bassist Jim Kolles and guitarist Erica Krumm.

When we first heard the album, we thought of Lou Reed’s famous remark about songwriting: “One chord is fine. Two chords and you’re pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” The best of its drum-machine driven minimalist jams fall somewhere in between post-punk goth and the Stooges. A standout is “List for the Desert,” a song which proffers the pop potential of minimalism and approaches the quality of classics like Closer and Bauhaus’ Flat Field.

Animal Life‘s dark themes are discordant with what we’d expect having come to know Krumm and Kolles through the record shop as compassionate and active supporters of the local music community, and folks we’d describe as sincerely sunny and sanguine. Perhaps this is a testament to the cathartic quality of songwriting. There’s a moony-eyed sentimentality to “West,” which was released as a video in August, and the album ends with what we’re taking to be a positive message in “Soft One,” with the rhythmic lyric “today the sun is higher” reminding us the harsh seasons of winter always come to an end. The melody repeats itself and the album fades into a cacophony of dwindling feedback.

If you’re not familiar with Kitten Forever, but you’re a fan of feminist-leaning punk rock, you’ll enjoy this endearing documentary about the trio produced by The Lowertown Line earlier this year. They’re an awesome band and always a great live act, so yep tonight’s show in the shop will likely be crowded!

OAKS and Kitten Forever will perform here at Hymie’s at 7pm tonight. As always, this is a free and all ages show. Both groups will have merch for sale, though. And their records are gooood!

…that the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a storm near Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior. The crew of twenty-nine men were lost in what remains the worst maritime disaster on the Great Lakes.

The disaster was the subject of a 1976 song by Gordon Lightfoot, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” It is augmented in the video here with archival recordings.

Last month we got an advance copy of Alex “Crankshaft” Larson‘s new album, Tied to the World Behind Me, and we’ve been tearin’ it up to the new collection ever since. We chose his last record, What You Gonna Do?, as one of our favorites of the year for 2013.

The release show for the new album is Wednesday, November 25th at First Avenue, along with the Ike Reilly Assassination, and seems likely to sell out so you might wanna get tickets ahead of time (First Avenue page here). After that we’ll have the LPs in stock here, and Crankshaft has some other great shows in December where you’ll be able to get the album. The LPs come in an awesome gatefold jacket with a 28 page book of artwork for each song, all of which is really beautiful.

One of the best parts of a new Crankshaft album, is that there will be new videos too. Larson writes and directs his videos which are as memorable as his songs. We’ve posted a couple in the past, including this classic, and the “Fill it Up” video in our review of What You Gonna Do?  Here is the video for “Any Other Way.”

Yep, we have posted about this already back in September. We’re pretty excited, so here’s a second reminder: local goth/metal legends Morticia have reunited for a special Halloween show here at Hymie’s!

Morticia released a 7″ single (“Zombie Love” b/w “You Scare Me to Death”) and an LP (Mortal Fear) in 1987. Their last album, 13 Nightmares, was released five years later, and earned a Minnesota Music Award for Best Metal Album. All three albums they released before disbanding in 1994 were on local label Channel 83 Records. In 2005 an Italian label collected highlights from all three on a disc, Exhumed, which was popular enough with metal fans to quickly fall out of print.

Their act was described at the time as an updated Alice Cooper with darker shades of the Damned and Sisters of Mercy, and they were the first goth metal band from the Twin Cities to establish a following. Morticia stopped playing in 1994 with a final show at First Avenue, but reunited in April 2012 to take part in the 25th anniversary celebration of KFAI’s The Root of All Evil program at the Triple Rock.

morticia singleFounding member Matt Batchelor, who performs these days with Black Rainbow and Vicious Violet. When he came across a couple copies of the original “Zombie Love” single, he brought them into the shop — and our enthusiasm for the songs forged a friendship. We’re really excited to be hosting Morticia’s first show in years.

12036900_10203357482177560_3364506457096452378_nIn the spirit of Halloween, Morticia has prepared thirty treat bags for the first fans in the doors after 4pm. They have been rehearsing and it sounds like it’s going to be an amazing show — please understand it will be crowded here!

We’ll also have some copies of last year’s Hymie’s Halloween mix, which was a big hit with ghosts and goblins of all ages. All we have to do is find the box of pumpkin-stamped CD sleeves we stored somewhere around here…

(Incidentally, we will be DJing our Halloween favorites at Harriet Brewing on Friday night from 11pm to close. The always awesome i like you will be performing a set at 8pm, preceeded by Machinery Hill at 6pm.)

Each year we add a few more spooky singles to our collection, and we’re going to try to squeeze a few more monster party jams onto our Halloween mix. Here’s a couple of this year’s silliest songs.

ghoul in schoolmonster shindigWe’ve posted some ghost stories found on albums here, and also one of our all time favorites Halloween songs (“Werewolf” by the Frantics) here.

A few more Halloween songs will appear on the blog this week!

Morticia will perform here at Hymie’s at 5pm on Halloween. Costumes are encouraged. The Facebook event for the show is here.

lydia murdock 45Actually, there is little evidence to suggest “Billie Jean” was autobiographical at all. One biography claims the song was based on a fan who claimed in letters that Jackson had fathered “one of her twins” (you figure that one out) and later sent him a package with a photograph and a gun.

Most books about the Jackson 5’s early years include accounts of his brothers’ excessive philandering, and the story behind “Billie Jean” seems likely to have been drawn from Michael’s experience as the youngest. In one famous interview, Michael explained “there were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed their son was related to one of my brothers.”

Lydia Murdock’s “Superstar” was a minor hit (very minor compared to “Billie Jean”) which derided the star for not acknowledging his own family, likely fueling theories about the song’s meaning.

Another rumor at the time was that Michael’s telephone number was hidden in the bar code on the back of the single’s picture sleeve. We feel sorry for anyone who’s phone number was in there — imagine the calls they received!

billy jeanThis 12″ single by Bullet approaches the song from Billie Jean’s perspective, and is more like the answer songs we’ve posted before than “Superstar.” Certainly, it draws pretty heavily from the arrangement of the original, which incidentally is said to have been lifted from Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That” from Private Eyes.

“Billie Jean” is the turning point in the life of Michael Jackson, even if the song’s story was not autobiographical. It was the first time he really stood up for himself as an artist, keeping the song’s introduction, bassline and title even after producer Quincy Jones insisted all be scrapped. Q didn’t even want the song on Thriller at all. Michael’s performance of “Billie Jean” at the Motown 25th Anniversary Special on live television, watched by 50 million people, is undeniably the moment he secured his status as a superstar. Even though the song is lip synched, Jackson’s performance was the epitome of cool, introducing the move he later said he’d been practicing on his kitchen floor, the “moonwalk.”

But “Billie Jean” is also the song Jackson was performing when he was nearly immolated after a pyrotechnic effect lit his hair on fire while filming a Pepsi spot. The incident, which happened in front of an audience, is believed by some to have led to his addiction to pain killers and contributed to his unfortunate withdrawal and downward spiral.

In spite of its connection to this tragic incident, Michael never retired “Billie Jean.” A rehearsal of the song is captured in the documentary This Is It, with some of his part lip synched to an original demo (have you heard these?!) and some sung live. During the epic 1996-7 History tour Jackson would draw out the song’s introduction by producing a suitcase from which he’d remove his fedora and glove.

Dave’s captivity continues for a second day. Fortunately, he’s found a theme song. Laura and Irene would love a visit from you in the record shop today. It so happens we’re putting out this morning a couple boxes of great jazz LPs.

Our friend Ben Weaver has just returned from a bicycle trip around the largest freshwater lake in the world. He’s got a show at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow to celebrate the trip, and perform songs along with his opening act, Twin.

Ben’s last album was, of course, the first release on our li’l record label here at Hymie’s. We have several releases in the works right now, including the debut album by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band which we featured on Monday. We are also putting the final touches on a Live at Hymie’s compilation which will include a DVD of videos shot here in the shop and co-produced by our friends from Pabst Twin Cities.

Here is Ben Weaver performing “Ramblin’ Bones” from I Would Rather Be a Buffalo here at Hymie’s last winter. You can find more details about his show at the Cedar tomorrow night from the link above, and from his official website here.

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