Past & Present: Blonde Redhead - Zeke Finn - Pylon - Brutus Begins

Blonde Redhead - Big Song.

Background Info - Teeming with the energy and grit of pre-Giuliani Manhattan, Blonde Redhead's long out-of-print early recordings have finally crawled their way out of the '90s basement thanks to Numero Group who will issue a 4LP / 2CD set on Sept. 30. Weighing in at 37 tracks, Masculin Féminin compiles the band's first two albums for Steve Shelley's Smells Like Records (self-titled and La Mia Via Violenta), their period singles, extant demos, and radio performances across four LPs or two CDs. Dozens of previously unpublished photographs illustrate two lengthy essays on this essential New York band's formative years.

This is the latest instalment in Numero Group's 200 Line series which has also included releases from Unwound, Bedhead, Codeine, White Zombie and The Scientists.

"These songs combine a raw need, a ready access to neediness, with seemingly incongruous cinematic changes reminiscent of '60s Italian pop music and movie scores. They switch between emotional grandeur and eye scratching immediacy."     -Arto Lindsay.

'Big Song' was an early and quite rare single by Blonde Redhead and it immediately brings back some fond memories of the band for me. Somewhere in my garage is an old PC with loads of their early material on it, time to go and dig it out, in anticipation of these reissues!


Zeke Finn - Love Song.

Background promo - From the backwoods of Ithaca to the brownstones of Brooklyn, Zeke Finn’s journey is as rich and eclectic as his music. And, the multi-talented singer-songwriter and his trio are set to release their much-anticipated self - titled debut EP later this summer, which depicts the realities of both city and country life. “Love Song” has dropped on all digital outlets.

Each song on the EP, is impressively different from the next, elucidating Zeke Finn’s remarkable ability to blend genres and styles.  With spacy rhythms and infectious beats, the band seamlessly combines elements of Hip-Hop, Reggae and Rock to create an unforgettable sound.  Perhaps more importantly, Zeke Finn is dedicated to promoting good vibes and positivity through music.

'Love Song' is like a gentle summers breeze on a sunny warm day. Catchy is an understatement, and with thoughtful lyrics and an upbeat melody, it just works on so many levels.


Pylon - Volume.

Background - 1983 was a banner year for Pylon. The Athens quartet released their second album, Chomp, on Atlanta-based DB Records, toured the country extensively, and played several opening slots for then-up-and-comers U2. And then, without a hint of explanation, they quit. Their final show at the Mad Hatter in Athens, Georgia, was, as was always the case, a frenzy of minimal disco thud, post-punk guitar scree, and deliriously inspired howl. Oh, and dancing – always dancing – both in the crowd and on stage. The gig was recorded (both audio and video) for a failed PBS pilot called Athens Shows, and the tapes were put away and forgotten. That is, until now.

Around three years ago, after Pylon’s DFA reissues hit the street, Chunklet CEO (and card-carrying member of the Pylon Fan Club) Henry Owings emailed the band bemoaning the lack of bonus material on the CDs, which sparked a larger conversation. “My favorite Pylon is live Pylon,” said bassist Michael Lachowski, with which Henry wholeheartedly agreed. Following a cordial sit-down at Michael’s apartment over the New Year’s holiday of 2015, an exhaustive search began for live recordings by Pylon. More specifically, live recordings from Athens in the early ’80s. Oh, and that sounded as good, if not better, than their proper full-length albums.

Numerous dead ends followed, but finally, and somewhat fittingly, the multitrack recordings of Pylon's final performance at the Mad Hatter in 1983 were unearthed. Once the tapes were transferred and subsequently mixed, the explosive and compelling sounds raised one very significant question: Why in the world did Pylon quit? For a band whose legacy, in their original incarnation at least, was two full-length albums and a handful of singles, Pylon were first and foremost a live band who weren’t as interested in working in a studio. Pylon’s raison d’être was performing for a crowd, and now there’s conclusive validation.

Pylon Live is a double vinyl album recorded on the band’s home turf at the culmination of their powers, and the results could not be more stellar. An all killer, no filler set with nothing left on the cutting room floor, Pylon Live includes powerful versions of the Pylon canon from their first and second LPs and even the hard-to-find song “Party Zone” (previously available only on a DB Rec comp) and their never-before-released rendition of the “Batman Theme.” When compared to the band’s prior body of work, Pylon Live bookends all of it; some might even say it’s a better representation of this Athens quartet, who thrived on bouncing around on stage infinitely more than sitting in a studio. There’s little arguing that the Athens powerhouse trifecta of R.E.M., the B-52’s, and Pylon is peerless. And while all three bands have achieved great critical acclaim, only the first two had the commercial acclaim they deserved. Pylon Live intends to correct that.

'Volume' is just a taste of the raw vibrant energy and passion that awaits the listener with this incredible live album release. I guess if you are going to look backwards, you might as well do it in style. This I feel, is a must have for any post punk fans. Twenty songs of which the featured track comes in as the seventeenth in the set, what a band and what an album!


Brutus Begins - Flashlights (War For the Girl).
Background promo - Brutus Begins is a solo project by Ricardo Temporao, a Portuguese-Canadian musician writer, and director currently based in Toronto (hailing from Kitchener, ON). Elements of folk are resampled and synthesized, blurring the lines between what is real and reconstructed and challenging notions of what is natural.   

Ricardo has fronted bands for over a decade from the New Low, General Staff and Skinny Bitches (which was featured on Alan Cross's blog).  In 2005, he released an album under the name “Rick Temporao & the New Low” which received radio airplay across Canada and earned critical acclaim (see below). He has also composed music for films and television (i.e. short films "Dead Wake", "The Visitor", Bravo television’s "Bravo Playlist" theme song and currently composing for short film "Scales").

Ricardo has directed and edited music videos for award-winning musicians Lily Frost, Cedar Park, and Fast Romantics. Recently he has begun his latest and most personal project, Brutus Begins. With influences from Leonard Cohen to Tame Impala and Shuggie Otis to T-Rex, Brutus Begins lives on the edge of a sonic "uncanny valley". The buttons, knobs and wires twist and bleed into something almost human.  Where the copper pierces the flesh is where Brutus Begins. Brutus Begins will be appearing at Canadian Music Week 2016.  His first album "Uncanny Valley" will be released this year. 

I really wasn't sure which song to feature from 'Uncanny Valley' so I went for the last one I played, as I felt it was as representative of the collection as any other. I say this, in as much as I sense Ricardo is always trying to push the boundaries rather than follow a format, something that is pretty much fine with me.