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Livewire: J. Robbins and Gordon Withers @ Story/Stereo (2010.02.19)

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Photo credit: Greg Szeto

This performance is absolutely transcendant. I am still in a state of disbelief. What we have here is J. Robbins on guitar and vocals with his friend Gordon Withers on cello, playing acoustic arrangements of amazing songs from current and previous bands that have been blessed by the presence of Robbins (Burning Airlines, Jawbox, Channels, and current project Office of Future Plans). Just press the play button, I won’t bore you with how mesmerized I am by this music.

I will note, though, that my spartan portable stereo miking setup is normally something of a compromise for recording larger bands, where a multitrack recording would be superior, but is nearly ideal for an intimate close-up acoustic performance like this. Deeply felt thanks to everyone who combined forces to bring this into being. If you are not already listening and your eyes are still open reading this drivel, you are wasting valuable time and energy.

This performance came about thanks to the efforts of Story/Stereo music co-curators Chad Clark and Matt Byars (whose label West Main Development will be releasing the full set properly later this year).

J. Robbins and Gordon Withers
Live @ Story/Stereo in the Writer’s Center
February 19, 2010
Bethesda MD, USA

J. Robbins – guitar, vocal
Gordon Withers – cello

Streaming player:

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MP3 links:

1. Outside the Aviary (Burning Airlines acoustic) (2:03)
2. The Deluxe War Baby (Burning Airlines acoustic) (3:56)
3. Desert Sea (Jawbox acoustic) (3:21)
4. Spoiler (Jawbox acoustic) (2:50)
5. 68 (Jawbox acoustic) (3:21)
6. Green Glass (Jawbox acoustic) (4:46)
7. The Escape Engine (Burning Airlines acoustic) (2:54)
8. Your Several Selves (Office of Future Plans acoustic) (2:44)
9. Scissoring (Burning Airlines acoustic) (4:02)
10. Static (Jawbox acoustic) (5:18)
11. Savory (Jawbox acoustic) (5:05)
12. Lucky Lamb (Channels acoustic) (3:22)

Total time: 43:43


AKG 414 mid/side pair -> Zoom h4n 48/24 -> Nuendo (stereo encoding, EQ, compression, limiting) -> MP3

Recorded by:

David Carter(carteriffic@gmail.com)

Preview: Aural States Fest II @ Sonar Club Stage/the Talking Head (2010.01.30)

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  1. MP3: Pontiak – Suzerain from Sea Voids (2009)
  2. MP3: Vincent Black Shadow – Flash Roll from More Deeper (2008)
  3. MP3: Leprechaun Catering – Night In Amnesia from Kumquats, Lychees (2004)
  4. MP3: Caleb Stine – Two Mantras (Small Sur cover) from Baltimore Does Baltimore (2009)
  5. MP3: Benjy Ferree – Dog Killers! from Leaving the Nest (2006)
  6. MP3: Sick Sick Birds – Buildings from Heavy Manners (2009)
  7. MP3: Noble Lake – Ladies and Gentlemen from Heyday (2008)
  8. MP3: Height With Friends – Swiss Chard from Swiss Chard Vol. 1 (2009)
  9. MP3: Thrushes – Crystals from the forthcoming LP Night Falls (2010)
  10. MP3: True Womanhood – Magic Child from the Magic Child Single (2009)
  11. MP3: Lands & Peoples – Bad Habits

web Aural States Fest 2 new

Teaser image to the right, proper flyer art coming from Nolen Strals of Post Typography/Double Dagger fame.


Aural States announces line-up, details for Aural States Fest II

December 11 2009 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore-based music website Aural States (auralstates.com) is proud to announce Aural States Fest II, our second anniversary blow-out at Sonar Club Stage & the Talking Head on Saturday January 30th in Baltimore, MD. This will likely be the final year for Aural States to be based in Baltimore, and hence, the final Aural States Fest.

The line-up for this year includes a wide variety of acts from Baltimore and DC, crossing generational and genre boundaries:

Pontiak (www.myspace.com/pontiak)

Leprechaun Catering (www.myspace.com/leprechauncatering)

Vincent Black Shadow (www.myspace.com/vbskicksoutthejams)

Sick Weapons (www.myspace.com/sickweapons)

Office of Future Plans (J Robbins of Jawbox | www.myspace.com/officeoffutureplans)

Caleb Stine (www.myspace.com/calebstine)

Benjy Ferree (www.myspace.com/benjyferree)

Sick Sick Birds (www.myspace.com/sicksickbirds)

Noble Lake (www.myspace.com/noblelake)

Dustin Wong (www.myspace.com/dustinclarence)

Height With Friends (www.myspace.com/height)

Thrushes (www.myspace.com/thrushes)

True Womanhood (www.myspace.com/truewomanhood)

Lands & Peoples (www.myspace.com/landsandpeoples)

Ami Dang (www.myspace.com/amritakd)

Liveshitbingepurge (Newagehillbilly, Decapitated Hed, and Pawly Walnutz | mt6records.com)

NARC (www.myspace.com/iamthenarc)

Stay tuned for additional line-up announcements in the coming weeks.

Like last year, early arrivals with ticket stubs will be rewarded with a limited-supply of generous grab-bags filled with CDs and merchandise from (mostly) local artists and businesses, including Atomic Books, Video Americain, Baltimore Jazz Alliance, Thrill Jockey, Natty Paint, and many more.

This year we are proud to team up with our younger regional cousin Bmore Musically Informed (bmoremusic.net) to present our festival as Night 2 of the “Blogtimore PWNS” weekend. Night 1 takes place Friday January 29th, when a combination of Aural States Fest alums (Arbouretum, Wye Oak, Sri Aurobindo) and fresh local talent (Weekends, the Violet Hour) will play the last show ever at the G-Spot.

Tickets for Night 1 are $10ADV/$12DOS and available through missiontix.com. Tickets for Night 2 are $15 and available through sonarbaltimore.com. A limited supply of 50 double-header tickets are available for a discounted rate of $20 through (sonarbaltimore.com and missiontix), and will guarantee access to both nights.

Video: Jawbox – “Savory,” “FF=66,” “68″ on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Congrats to friend of Aural States, stand-up guy, and all-around great musician (and highly underrated lyricist) J Robbins. His noted 90s project Jawbox (infamous for being one of the only artists to leave legendary Dischord Records). They delivered a taut performance of “Savory” last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to commemorate the reissue and remastering of their Atlantic debut For Your Own Special Sweetheart.

If you missed it, YouTube has a version (see below), and Hulu will have a true HD 480p version later today.

And according to my chat with J, we also get two more online-exclusive performances after the jump (“FF=66″ and “68,” both also from FYOSS).

Read the rest…

Interview: Office of Future Plans & the Jawbox Reunion (w/ J Robbins)


Photo credit: Greg Szeto

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MP3: Report Suspicious Activity – The Night of 1000 Lies from Report Suspicious Activity (2005)

Office of Future Plans plays Oct 27th at the Sidebar with The Bomb, and a Halloween show on Oct 30th at Rock and Roll Hotel with Caverns and Imperial China.

On an anonymous street, nestled tightly amidst random warehouse facades in the neighborhood known as Better Waverly (funnily enough, south of Waverly proper), sits the Magpie Cage. From the outside, it appears to be no more than a steel-gated, two-car-width garage. But when you walk through the doors, it’s like entering a different world. A veritable oasis for anyone music-oriented, lined with warm wood tones, and contrasts of deep red while absolutely bursting with vintage and high-tech recording gear that strikes any artist like Pavlov’s Bell. Unlike many studios, this one is remarkably free of clutter, and blessed streamlined interior design (perhaps a bit of insight into the mind of its proprietor).

This is the studio of one J Robbins, one of the bonafide icons of local music, earning his stripes as final bassist in DC hardcore band Government Issue, vocalist and guitarist in post-hardcore follow-up Jawbox, and more recently with duties in Report Suspicious Activity, Channels, and Burning Airlines. He also happens to be one of the most earnest, hard-working, and genuine people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting.

I got the chance to gab with J in the studio before a day of mixing locals …soihadto…, who counts the infamous Duff from Ace of Cakes among its members. Our conversation veered all over: from the forging fires of his new project Office of Future Plans, to the driving forces behind the bizarre Jawbox reunion set on Jimmy Fallon, and tons more in Robbins’ very busy life.

Read the rest…

Caverns to play Cal Robbins benefit at Black Cat

If you haven’t heard of Caverns (not likely if you read Aural States often), or Cal Robbins, then you must at least be familiar with J Robbins, former bassist for Government Issue, and producer and engineer for bands like Dismemberment Plan, Clutch, Against Me!, etc.

Unfortunately, what should have been the highlight of both his, and wife Janet Morgan’s life, has turned to tragedy. Their son Callum was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA-Type 1), an incurable nerve disorder that kills, often before the patient has reached his second birthday.

No parent wants to go through this, but this is what J. and Janet must face. As expected the health care costs are ridiculous, and there is no company heath plan for being a musician.

Members of the music community have come together for benefit compilations, and live show, most notably a Dismemberment Plan reunion.

This Friday (6/13) Caverns, along with headliners The Bakerton Group (featuring members of Clutch), The Deleted Scenes, and Hammer No More The Fingers will perform a benefit concert at DC’s Black Cat.

More information on Cal and donations can be found at his blog, For Callum. If you can’t make it, then buy a ticket anyway. As Kevin from Caverns–and by extension J, Janet, and Cal– said, whatever support you can provide “We’d appreciate the shit out of it.”

No ticket giveaway for this one folks. This show is about a little more than rocking-the-fuck-out, though Caverns still do that amazingly well.