Friday, April 02, 2010


I'm now blogging about music (as well as books, art & other interesting things) at Anything Could Happen. Please join me.

Monday, May 18, 2009


It's time. I always said that when Shake Your Fist became more obligation than pleasure, I would quit. Even if I could make time to write posts, I don't have the hours to deal with all the peripherals (emails, hosting, site upkeep, PR people, blog networking, etc.). And four years is enough.

Thank you to my dear friends Jon and Joe for their early contributions and continuing support. Thanks to those fellow mp3 bloggers who, to my astonishment, took me and this little site seriously. I can't possibly express how much I appreciate the affirmation and friendship. Thank you to the artists who make the music that constantly inspired SYF. And, most of all, thanks to those of you who checked in regularly and read the stuff and nonsense I posted, downloaded the mp3s, commented and generally made the whole endeavor worthwhile.

Don't worry, I'm still around the web, writing album and track reviews for Pitchfork and blogging (just images) about art/craft/design/style at just three things.

Thanks again and best to you all!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The moon tonight

Image: Your personal moon

River's Edge - Great Lake Swimmers

Put There by the Land (live) - Great Lake Swimmers

Great Lake Swimmers is a maddening band to invest anything-- time, money, energy-- in. For the several here-and-there brilliant, breathtaking songs ("Moving Pictures, Silent Films," "Where In the World Are You," "Your Rocky Spine") there are many times that number in bland mediocre tracks that attempt to get by on atmosphere alone. The problem is that the band works with such soft, soft materials, shaping sandcastles from dry sand eager to revert to beach. Their latest has a little more gusto and gumption, a few bends and sharp edges, sounding heavily influenced by Out of Time-era REM (ok, not exactly rockin'). Ironically, though, it's one of the doughy numbers, "River's Edge" that's caught my ear. It sounds like a hymn and, um, like a Great Lake Swimmers song. Go figure.

And to show the band sounds pretty much the same live as in studio (I know, you didn't ask), one of their really good songs: "Put There by the Land."

From Lost Channels (eMusic, Amazon) and Live EP, Myspace

Your Control (w/ Neko Case) - Crooked Fingers

Sleep All Summer (live w/ Emma Pollock) - Crooked Fingers

I guess I'm on record as not liking Crooked Fingers' last release so much. I respect Eric Bachmann's songwriting but, man, he can make really confounding lyric and production choices! His duo with Neko Case, "Your Control" is Forfeit/Fortune's best track (despite the cheap gilt shine) and after seeing him perform it last week opening for Case with minimal instrumentation, I've learned what an unlodgable earworm it can be. (Aw, I'm a sucker for a song with rounds.) Lumbering, laconic and sort of shy-seeming, Bachmann's a solid stage presence and performer, so if you never have, see him live in band or solo guise.

The couple years old live duet with Delgados' Emma Pollock is of negligible recording quality, but a very nice performance nevertheless.

From Forfeit/Fortune (eMusic, Amazon) and Sleep All Summer 7" (eMusic), Myspace

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Winter's end

Image: Christopher Davidson

Iceland - Bark Cat Bark

It's been a long, hard winter. But I don't need to tell you that; it's been a long, hard winter for you too. And even as gray rain slushes my windows to say spring has (sort of) arrived, I don't think winter is over just yet. You know what I mean. So does Bark Cat Bark (Josh Todd), a man of no decided abode who calls himself after an improbability and plays his piano on the dotted line between today and yesterday, here and not-here as dust motes wink in the weak late afternoon sun.

From A Lifi. Myspace

Candy Cigarette - Boy in Static

I love the part where static boy (Alexander Chen) sings
"let's lull divorcées from their households" with a hint of Antony's tremulous tremelo and the promise of something illicit, but also totally right. What could be more natural than swinging open windows and doors on a warm spring day and running into the street barefoot to a toy instrument orchestra? If Chen sings about childhood games, starting over, novelty candy (frankly, I'm just not sure), he delivers it like metaphysical verse, like a breathy, deep-felt pillowy pop poem.

From Candy Cigarette (eMusic), Myspace

Friday, March 20, 2009

Soul of the machine

Hiroshi Sugito

Strider - Paper

I've heard the first album this year that I can say absolutely unequivocally will make my year-end best list. "Strider" is one of the awesome tracks from it. Just to show you how awesome: Cept for the first two seconds (the song starts like something from Suicide--but don't worry!), this track is vocals-free--and I'm almost always partial to the human voice. I hesitate to call "Strider" instrumental because, like a lot of good electronica (for clarity, "Strider" is more punk than anything), it seems to eliminate the very concept of vocals as a medium through which to convey overwhelming emotion. Its hammering headlong, yet running-in-place, rush does a very close approximation of that alarming moment when you realize you've done or said something incredibly stupid and are totally fucked and there's nothing you're gonna be able to do about it and everything seems simultaneously to be going in fast and slow motion. I've heard the band is really really loud in person, which makes me really really anxious to see them.

From An Object (eMusic), Myspace

I Want to Be Your Girlfriend - Bachelorette

Can't stop listening to this. Supposedly the New Zealander (with the pouty French robot inflection) has an album coming out sometime this year, and if it's anything like this lush, pillowy electropop number, I'll be all over it. So maybe I'll wait until later to drown
Bachelorette in purple prose. In the meantime, you know what to do.


No, I'm not jealous of y'all in Austin right now. Or wasn't anyway until I saw this listing (gasp x 4):

The Local: Sam Amidon, Alela Diane, David Thomas Broughton, Shearwater - 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn

And although a small part of me wants the Stone Roses rumors to be true, I was actually relieved to see this. You go, John!