Sunday, October 21, 2007

Release of the Month: October 2007 - PIRATE RADIO USA

If you've searched for Pirate Radio related documentaries on film, you'll know that less than a handful exist- if you can unearth them. They don't exactly atract lucritive distribution deals and glowing reviews from the mainstream press. Just in time to save us from the tedious monotony of this year's films, B-Side has released Pirate Radio USA on DVD.
DJ Him and DJ Her take bring the viewer on a live tour of the underground world of unlicensed broadcasting in America. Radio Davids battle Media Goliaths and find out the real price of freedom. This film immediately connects with the audience - the hosts are friendly, have a retro sense of humor, and know their subject intimately - they have been pirate radio operators for many years. Pirate Radio USA covers almost a decade from the 1996 Broadcast Act which spawned unprecidented media consolidation into the hands of a few mega corporations. DJ Him and Her narrate their personal quest to connect with other pirate radio stations, document the micro-radio coverage of the World trade Organization protests in Seattle, and educate us on the finer points of why free radio is so important to communites. This film is far from fair & balanced - but then, corporate media and the National Association of Broadcasters have million dollar lobbyists & countless media platforms from which to shout their stories.
I have a simple formula for whether a documentary is worth my time. Does the film hold my attention? Does it stimulate learning? Pirate Radio USA achieves both, proving that you don't need a budget to present an entertaining film on topics ignored by mainstream media.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Release of the Month September 2007: Hobbyhorse - Break In the Clouds

This wonderful album opens with the swirling sustain of an organ, lilting percussion (bodhran?) quiet, precise guitar and earthy vocals & builds from there. Traditional in one sense, quietly experimental in others, Hobbyhorse's Break in the Clouds embodies the magic that is woven in the art of folk music - and by folk music I mean music that is authentic, spirited & manifest from the love of creation rather than 'music industry' profit motive. Each song is a delight of discovery.

Hobbyhorse is Annie Aronson and Phil Campbell. They have created an online music & art community at - an experience of sound and vision to explore and enjoy ... an online space to envision yourself sipping the most delicious cup of tea surrounded by mesmerizing beauty.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Ringing Down the Years

Oh man. I was borned & razed in manchester new hampshire and managed to drop out of high school while I could still think for myself. As soon as I got my hands on a friend's car I remember haunting the local record shops of Southern NH and Northern MA looking for unknown (to me) bands and obscurities. One day I found a 7" vinyl by Jonee Earthquake Band. I recognized Jonee from manchester, and thought - I have to buy this. One listen confirmed I was right - it was a slice of pure guitar joy, a rockin' rave-up ode to vinyl records called Black Plastic and a reggae tinged tune called Batten Down the Hatches.

While digging through the vinyl archives at WNEC, where I somehow hold the miraculous title of Community Program Director, I came across four vinyl gems by Jonee & krew. Looking up the interweb I discovered his website & sent a few dineros for some very inexpensive cds. Holy fuck, local punk/folk music lives with a vengeance. This dude is a still a brilliant songwriter, and thats no shit - one listen to "Up With Piracy" and I'd discovered a theme song for Seldom Heard Radio. As long as no one listening to WNEC turns me in to the FCC. Or as long as no wizard turns me into the FCC. There are worse fates but I can't think of them at the moment. Read this: FU FCC. Thanks for stealing our airwaves and selling them to Clear Channel, etc.

Cruise over to Don't be such a recluse like ye olde DJ here, go see a show, or at least fork over some bucks for some cds. Most of them include bonus tracks by other bands.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Release of the Month May 2007 - The Christ Tree

My personal history with religion is checkered at best. I was raised a mainstream protestant christian, had brushes with the Unification Church and born-again fundamentalism, converted to anglican catholicism and had a brief existance as a third order monastic, became an atheist after some emotional upheaval, then finally a quiet pagan. Now, I believe that there is no way that god and goddess don't exist (oops, double negative) ... God as We Understand God To Be is too deep to fit inside one limited set of beliefs called a religion.
Imagine my delight upon hearing The Trees Community The Christ Tree and not just tolerating the christian references, but revelling in them. This is music like no other - meditative, prayerful, organic, joyous, ponderous, a full-on masterpiece of the mid 1970's era. From the Trees Community's website: "80 Acoustic instruments and more are nestled in the Christ Tree. Starting with an initial collection of Indian Sitar, Tamboura and drums, Venezuelan folk harp, American Guitar, French Flute, Austrian Zither and Tibetan Gongs, we began to add more and more instruments. Everywhere we went people gave us full blown instruments or noise makers, ranging from finger cymbals to Japanese Koto; from African Belanji to American Dulcimer".
I only wish I had been adventurous and purchased the 4 cd box set before it went out of print. This one cd version includes:
1. Psalm 42
2. The Parable of the Mustard Seed
3. Psalm 45
4. Invocation (O Little Town of Bethlehem)
5. Village Orchestra
6. Jesus He Knows
7. I Will Not Leave You Comfortless
8. Chant for Pentecost
9. Psalm 46
10. Bird Song
11.Lift Your Weary Hand
12.Your an ointment poured forth
15. Annunciation
16. Symphony of Souls*
17. Baptism
18. There is Such a Love...that steals into the heart, planting a kiss on deep wounds
* previously unreleased, not included on the box set
Praise the Lord and pass the headphones. Pray that more recordings are forthcoming from this psychedelic christian commune. For more information see

Monday, April 23, 2007

Release of the Month April 2007 - Kevin Hume

This morning I listened to a cd that inspired me to start a new feature on this blog & in my radio broadcasts ("Release of the month") that may inspire me to update this blog more frequently.
When the first track started spinning in my cd player, my musical attention was immediately caught, probably for the first time since New Year's ... and I have listened to a lot of new releases since then. Warm morning sunlight filtered through my windshield as I drove South on Route 89 toward work. At first I thought ... this is curiously different, then a few moments later ... wow, this is closing in on sustained brilliance. I was transported back to the first time I'd heard the Penguin Cafe Orchestra more than 20 years ago --- hearing something that felt entirely fresh, a blush of discovery. Kevin Hume's The Truth About Ants and Aphids is an astonishing piece of work ... musically adventurous in every respect. His music weaves in elements of guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel (my favorite instrument of late), cello, violin, harp, flute, trumpets ... these songs embody both the fragile beauty of Spring and the melancholy haze of night. Thematically coherant yet transcending boundaries of folk, jazz, and classical music, The Truth About Ants & Aphids is easily one of the most intriguing releases of the year ... one that will receive numerous spins (all tracks!) on my WSCS and WNEC broadcasts.
Check out for more information.