National Public Viking

Friday, September 26, 2008

By the way...

... I pretty much spend all my time on Thor's Rubber Hammer these days. I'm going to start a new blog and possibly a podcast on that domain by the end of October. The purpose of this blog died out a long time ago and I have an itch to write about music that doesn't necessarily fit into what I do at NPR Music.

Speaking of, here are some recent articles I've written:
6 a.m. Wakeup Call
Heavy Metal Road Trip

Also, my latest appearance on All Songs Considered:
Viking's Choice

Friday, April 04, 2008


Friday, March 28, 2008

The Ladies are Waiting (Ladies in Waiting) Mix CD

Subtitled: "The Best Songs of March 27, 2008"

Time for another mix, this time a very accessible pop-leaning one, perhaps to counter to the heavy-psychedelic mix I'll put up next week. Download link is below the tracklist.

1. "Canceling Stamps at the University of Ghana Post Office" from the Worlds of Music
Found this song via WFMU's blog and I can't help but smile every time I hear it. The field recording is exactly what it says and features most infectious whistled melody that perks up my day.
2. The Foxglove Hunt "That's Getting Personal"
What is it with me and coy synth-pop? I don't even like The Pet Shop Boys, but I just can't say no to Rob Withem's first project after Fine China (R.I.P.). Sounds like When the World Sings, but way gayer. (In a good way.)
3. Crystal Castles "Untrust Us"
The hipster factor here is staggering, but Crystal Castles' arty Nintendo-electro-pop is fun. Consider me a fan.
4. Manu Dibango "Groovy Flute"
The album is called African Voodoo. I didn't need any more convincing.
5. Invisible Conga People "Cable Dazed"
More hipster dance rubbish I can't help but enjoy. Of course they're from New York.
6. Religious Knives "96 Tears"
The noisy rock band has gone Doors. Here they cover ? and the Mysterians.
7. Jose Gonzalez "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
I had the recent realization that I do not like Joy Division. I always thought I did. But Jose, as always, delivers a lovely acoustic interpretation.
8. Javiera Mena "Sol de Invierno"
Heard this on WFMU yesterday and immediately took to the web to research. Turns out this fantastic Chilean piano ballad is a fluke among rather bad mainstream pop, but boy does it hit the spot.
9. Tahiti 80 "Desiree"
How can you go wrong with a Left Banke cover? A pretty great pop band covering the most underrated pop band of the '60s.
10. Big Dipper "All Going Out Together"
R.E.M. jangle-pop meets the muscle of Husker Du.
11. Richard Swift "Sign Language"
Lou Reed goes to Jamaica and comes back puffin' instead of shootin'.
12. Six Stars of Long Island, N.Y. "Had It Not Been for Him"
Yet another WFMU find yesterday (by the same DJ, no less). This R&B obscurity only seems to exist in the annals of that station, so I got it like I used to as a kid, but instead of dubbing a tape from the radio, I dubbed the archived MP3 stream onto the computer. Technology, man.
13. Warm Climate "19th Century Blessings"
An RPM Challenge friend in arms, except his record is way better. Bowie and Bolan on a serious headtrip.
14. The Homosexuals "Vociferous Slam"
My old station, WUOG, got the art-punk band's reissues and I played the hell out of this song for months. The Homosexuals just recently reunited for a show, so I finally bought the box set.

(Remember: The files will be unordered once you unzip the folder. I've included a text document with the tracklist so you can re-order the songs in iTunes.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Drains the Wallet

|current sounds| Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso UFO- Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness

Saw Acid Mothers Temple for the third time last night (second at the Rock n Roll Hotel). That band never fails to put me into a psychedelic third-eye trance. It was probably the heaviest/chunkiest, metal-inspired set I've seen AMT play, no doubt working out material from the new album, Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness, which I picked up as a glorious 2xLP gatefold vinyl last night. (Listening to it now, methinks AMT heard a SunnO))) in the last year or so.)

And in a "I'm not too old to go to concerts, am I?" moment, there was what appeared to be an 18-year-old couple making out throughout the entire set. In the front row, in front of me. It makes me wonder, "What kind of people make out to Japanese psychedelic-kraut-rock freakouts?" and "If this is going to start happening, do I want to go to shows"?

Sigh. The answer is always yes.

3/28-29: Spontaneous Infinity Festival @ Velvet Lounge
(Bunch of free-jazz groups playing this weekend, including Elliot Sharp, which I guess is cool. Let's hope it's not too wanky... right.)
4/3: Boredoms @ 9:30 Club
4/12: Dark Meat, Monotonix @ The Red & The Black
(I can't imagine how this show is going to work: R&B has the smallest room in D.C., Dark Meat has 18+ members, and Monotonix does stuff like this. I will have a camera that night for sure.)
4/16: Evangelista @ Velvet Lounge
4/26: Jay Reatard @ Black Cat
4/26: The B-52s @ 9:30 Club
(You know what? The new B-52s CD, Funplex, is surprisingly good... at least the first 4 songs, but I'll probably end up at the Jay Reatard show anyway.)
5/4: Earth @ Rock n Roll Hotel
5/4: Stars of the Lid @ Iota
(Yet another show conflict. Slow-paced doom-country or slow-paced ambient/neo-classical? Choices.)
5/11: Radiohead @ Nissan Pavillion
(Liars were just confirmed as the openers. Score. Everyone I know says this way-out-of-way Virginia venue sucks. Minus score.)
5/20: We Versus the Shark @ The Red & The Black
5/23: Vic Chesnutt, Silver Mt. Zion @ Black Cat
(Two Athens artists in one week will remind me of what I miss most about the town. Don't particularly care for Silver Mt. Zion, but those Canadian commies did wonders as the back-up musicians on both the Vic Chesnutt and Evangelista albums.)
5/27: Loren Connors @ Issue Project Room (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
(It's in the middle of the week, but I've been putting off seeing the guitarist to whom I owe much of my personal playing style. He hardly plays outside of New York, so I need to make the trip. Looks like it'll be a solo show, which is exactly how I want to see him perform.)
5/30: Fern Knight @ Velvet Lounge

In news that would make many of my indie-rocker friends jealous, Carrie Brownstein (once Sleater-Kinney's face-melting guitarist, now NPR's Monitor Mix blogger) mentions my name in the latest episode of All Songs Considered when talking about the Athens band, We Versus the Shark. Word.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jumping Viking! Create custom animated gifs at!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I have tasted the salt of Death Valley

|current sounds| Neil Young- Decade

We spent my actual birthday in Death Valley, California. The incredible thing about this state park is its diversity: mountain ranges, sand dunes, dried-up salt lakes, volcanic caters, canyons, Badwater, the lowest point in North America. The desert is a new landscape to me, so I was taking it all in with complete fascination.

Conquering the Valley of Fire (Las Vegas, Day 1)

|current sounds| Sun Araw- The Phynyx

For my 25th birthday over the weekend, I flew out to Las Vegas to visit my friends Padmini and Braniff, both of whom I haven't seen in two years since we parted ways in Athens. Flying above the city, the lights were almost blinding: hotels and casinos practically line the landing strip, including the Death-Star pyramid casino.

Braniff and I spent most of Friday in the Valley of Fire, a stunning state park just 50 miles outside Vegas. Apparently, Captain Kirk died there.

After visiting Padmini's classroom and enjoying the amazing Lotus of Siam, we went to the MGM Grand to see Cirque du Soleil's Ka. Essentially a live action film, I was blown away from the stage itself, an acrobatic piece of design just integral to the production as the performers.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

"I've got a loooooooove..."


They better damn tour up the east coast. I will travel hundreds of miles to see them.

Also, unrelated, but awesome: I want to make octopus.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bull's Eye, Indeed

|current sounds| Xiu Xiu- Women as Lovers

Ladies and gentlemen, D.C. has arrived. We have a Target and it's just a few blocks away. Best Buy, Marshalls, and Bed Bath & Beyond are all next. I no longer have to drive to Prince George's County to experience suburban bliss.

Tomorrow night I go to Las Vegas to see Padmini and Braniff for the weekend. This is beyond exciting.

This is my life next week... except I'll be enjoying it from the comfort of my office desk, producing concerts and generally not interacting with the real world much. Though, to be honest, the last time I went to a multi-day festival (2002?), I spent more than half the time just meeting lots of cool people. Bands suck.

Recent listens:
+ Imaad Wasif- Strange Hexes: Jimi Hendrix-meets-The Zombies kinda psych-pop. I'm a believer.
+ Gary Louris- Vagabonds: The Jayhawks' co-songwriter's first solo outing and it's every bit as charming as Hollywood Town Hall and Rainy Day Music.
+ Big Dipper- Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology (disc 1): '80s power-pop I never heard of until this Merge 3xCD reissue. Top notch stuff I bet members of the Arcade Fire ripped off and hoped nobody would find out.
+ Stars of the Lid- And Their Refinement of the Decline: Beautiful ambient/neo-classical double-disc I missed out on last year. Exactly what I was looking for... swooning string arrangements, blissed-out electronic drones.... lovely.
+ Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Pulled this out a couple weeks ago and couldn't remember the last time I listened to it. Picked up on a lot of the subtle stuff Jim O'Rourke put in the background and my it was a great discovery.
+ Klondike & York- The Holy Book: Sax/drums/electronics free-jazz duo. Maybe not the most original thing out there, but hell it's a lot of fun, a rare treat in a genre that takes itself way too seriously.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Donate to WFMU, Real Radio Freedom Fighters

I haven't done so, yet (can't decide which premium I want!), but by the end of the week I'll start my second year as a WFMU pledger. If you listen to WFMU, read its hiliarous, informative blog, or just want to support freeform radio, please donate.

And this Sunday night, locals-to-FMU Yo La Tengo will once again play songs for pledges. SUPPORT NON-COMMERCIAL RADIO!

EDIT: I upped my amount this year, so I get two sweet premiums:
+ Woody's New Divisions of Plucked Strings: Previously unreleased tracks by contemporary guitarists, lutists, banjo players, etc, with inspiration from the Middle Ages to the avant-garde.
+ Evan Muse's Guitar Hero -- Japan!: The 6-string gods that you won't find on your Wii. From solo avant-improv to flamethrowing rock!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Show Me Your Quorum of Teeth

|current sounds| FM3- Buddha Machine

So in my dizzy sickness I didn't even notice until just now that my second "Song of the Day" was posted. This one is for Earth, kind of Black Sabbath meets Ennio Morricone.

Earth: The Sound of Desert-Swept Doom

RPM Challenge Update:

The awesomely-titled Quorum of Teeth (thanks, Stephen) is finished. I recorded nine tracks in two nights this past week. (I imagine recording in our very cold basement might have something to do with my current physical state.) It's lonely, haunting blues akin to my musical guitar hero, Loren Connors. Because I know little about recording equipment and recording programs (and had little time to learn both), it sounds very lo-fi despite the very nice microphone Erik recommended to me. All the same, it only adds to the album.

Only having spent a day with it at most, I don't know how I feel about it. There are some improvisations I'm extremely pleased with, some not as much. I do, however, love the artwork. Might be worth it to print up 50 of these just for the hey of it to put on my label, but I have ten projects to think about first. (My tragic flaw: devising ambitious projects too big to handle in the time allotted... yet I always find a way.)