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The NHM Next campaign is transforming the Museum into one of the coolest destinations in Southern California. Want to get involved in our final phase?
Join Amy Stewart for a darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the insect world. You’ll meet creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the “bookworms” that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary power of six and eight-legged creatures. It’s a mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins—but doesn’t end—in your own backyard.[ ]
Amy Stewart is the author of five books on the perils and pleasures of the natural world. Including WICKED BUGS, WICKED PLANTS, and FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL: The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful. Her essays and commentaries have appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Garden Design, and Fine Gardening, where she is a contributing editor. She’s been featured on NPR, Good Morning America and CBS Sunday Morning. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) granted her a Creative Writing Fellowship for 2006, and she won the 2010 American Horticulture Society’s Book Award.Visit her online at www.amystewart.com
Believers is the new A.A. Bondy record –
A few thoughts from those who have crossed paths with him:
"They brought him in from a motorcycle wreck. I could hear him singing from all the way down the hall. It was weird, but kinda pretty."- Rita Jenkins (emergency room nurse, Kingston, NY)
“My wife and I are deaf so I can't say what his music sounds like. Seemed nice enough. He did set fire to his whole back yard once though.” - Charles & Anne McTier (former neighbors)
"The tall thin guy? Oh yeah, he came in here every morning for three weeks, bought the same thing every day - one tube of krazy glue, and a sausage biscuit. I couldn't tell you what he did for money." - Ray Anne Murphy (Spring Mart)
"Not many people know this, but he's not a bad horn player, but he only played during particular celestial events. At least that's what he told me." - Gladys Broussard (secretary, B&O Railroad)
Believers is the last couple years in one long exposure. - Bondy
Made of scenes gathered in actual places (upstate New York, Mississippi, California), but also scenes from an other place. A finger on a dream globe. One foot in the dirt, one in the ether, unseen voice at your ear. On the tide with the Surfer King.
Recording took place in the spring of 2011 with Rob Schnapf in Glassell Park, Los Angeles, at Mant/Kingsize Studios. It’s Bondy’s third for Fat Possum Records. Songs were worked on until they told us not to work on them anymore. Ben Lester played drums and pedal steel, Macey Taylor played basss. Proof in zeros. Proof in ones. BElieverS.
FATHER JOHN MISTY
When discussing ‘Father John Misty’, Tillman paraphrases Philip Roth: ‘It’s all of me and none of me, if you can’t see that, you won’t get it’. What I call it is totally arbitrary, but I like the name. You’ve got to have a name. I never got to choose mine.”
He goes on, “‘People who make records are afforded this assumption by the culture that their music is coming from an exclusively personal place, but more often than not what you hear are actually the affectations of an ‘alter-ego’ or a cartoon of an emotionally heightened persona,” says Josh Tillman, who has been recording/releasing solo albums since 2003 and who recently left Seattle’s Fleet Foxes after playing drums from 2008-2011. “That kind of emotional quotient isn’t sustainable if your concern is portraying a human-being made up of more than just chest-beating pathos. I see a lot of rampant, sexless, male-fantasy everywhere in the music around me. I didn’t want any alter-egos, any vagaries, fantasy, escapism, any over-wrought sentimentality. I like humor and sex and mischief. So when you think about it, it’s kind of mischievous to write about yourself in a plain-spoken, kind of explicitly obvious way and call it something like ‘Misty’. I mean, I may as well have called it ‘Steve’.”
Musically, “Fear Fun” consists of such disparate elements as Waylon Jennings, Harry Nilsson, Arthur Russell, "All Things Must Pass," and “Physical Graffiti,” often within the same song. Tillman's voice has never been better and often sounds like Roy Orbison, “The Caruso of Rock”, at his most joyous, while the music maintains a dark, mysterious and yet conversely playful, almost Dionysian quality. Lyrically, his absurdist fever dreams of pain and pleasure elicit, in equal measures, the blunt descriptive power of Bukowski or Braughtigan, the hedonist-philosophy of Oscar Wilde and the dried-out wit of Loudon Wainwright III.
The album began gestating during what Tillman describes as an “immobilizing period of depression”, in his former Seattle home. “Songwriting for me had always only been interesting and necessary because I saw it as this vehicle for truth, but I had this realization that all I had really done with it was lick my wounds for years and years, and become more and more isolated from people and experiences. I don’t even like wound-licking music, I want to listen to someone rip their arm off and beat themselves with it. I don’t believe that until now I’ve ever put anything at risk in my music. I was hell-bent on putting my preciousness at stake in order to find something worth singing about.”
He continues, “So, I lost all interest in writing music, or identifying as a ‘songwriter’. I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast without a fucking acoustic guitar, the sound of which at that point actually made me nauseous, with nowhere to go. After a few weeks, I was writing a novel, which is where I finally found my narrative voice. The voice that is actually useful.
“It was a while before that voice started manifesting in a musical way, but once I settled in the Laurel Canyon spider-shack where I’m living now, I spent months demoing all these weird-ass songs about weird-ass experiences almost in real-time, and kind of had this musical ‘Oh-there-I-am’ moment, identical to how I felt when I was writing the book. It was unbelievably liberating. I knew there was never any going back to the place I was writing from before, which was a huge relief. The monkey got banished off my back.”
Tillman brought the demos to LA producer/songwriter/pal Jonathan Wilson, and in February 2011 began recording at his home-studio in Echo Park. “Initially, the idea was to just kind of recreate the demos with me playing everything, since they were pretty fleshed out and sounded cool, but a place like LA affords you a different wealth of talent, potential, etc than just about anywhere else. I realized what was possible between Jonathan’s abilities, and the caliber of musicians that are just hanging around LA, pretty quickly. People were coming in and out of the studio all day sometimes, and other days, it would just be Jonathan and I holed up, getting stoned, and doing everything.
When asked about Laurel Canyon, where he eventually ended up living in the aforementioned tree-house with a family of spiders, Tillman says, “My attitude about it all is pretty explicit in the record. Given my adversarial personal attitude about the music and aesthetic that comes from that place, it’s kind of a huge joke that I live in a former hippie-fantasy land. I have a really morbid sense of humor.”
Phil Ek (who everyone knows has worked with Built To Spill, Modest Mouse, Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes) heard the rough versions of the album in May 2011 and offered his services to mix. “Phil and I have known each other for a while by virtue of Fleet Foxes, so he was familiar with my music, but we had never discussed working together. I think he immediately recognized the shift in my writing and singing from a producer and friend’s standpoint. His excitement is really evident in mixes, I think.”
“Fear Fun” is available May 1, 2012 from Sub Pop and Bella Union, in the US and UK/EU respectively.
KCRW DJs Anthony Valadez and join us in the lounge where you can get your groove on and enjoy the dioramas of the African Mammal Hall.
Anthony Valadez is a Los Angeles based DJ/Producer and visual artist with residencies at Little Temple, Zanzibar and Federal Bar. His latest musical projects include remixes for David Bowie and Ozomatli. He has released two full length albums on indie label Recordbreakin. He is a resident DJ at Dublab.com and has a regular program on 89.9 FM KCRW and KCRW.com where he mixes future beats, soulful keys, and tomorrow's samples and sounds. (www.anthonyvaladez.com)
Originally from Sarajevo, Valida fled a heavily conflicted Bosnia to pursue higher education in the US. A musician and a performer since the age of four, she developed a passion for the art of mixing vinyl and rose through the ranks to become an important figure in LA’s nightlife scene. Her specialty is a seamless blending of a variety of music styles, fearlessly fusing everything from disco to country and beyond, making her a perfect fit for KCRW, where she started on air hosting of The Lab in 2010 on rotating Sundays 3-6AM. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Valida/261122963931578