Chicken Fried - has moved to alexvcook.com

A compendium of all my online content in one handy bloated site! You're welcome!


Lunch tonight was: Carnitas, carnne asada and pollo tacos from the place by the Harley Davidson store. Washed down with a half litre Mexican coke!

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Alex V. Cook is an author, journalist and music critic living Baton Rouge, LA. His work has appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American, DownBeat, Paste Magazine, Hails and Horns and The Wire, and his first collection of essays Darkness, Racket and Twang: Essential Listening from the Fringes of Popular and Unpopular Culture was published by Side Cartel in 2006.

He is the music editor for outsideleft.com, editor for Sweet Tooth, and a frequent contributor to 225 Magazine, OffBeat and Country Roads.

He is a founding contributor to the Badasses of Contemporary Composition blog.

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Record Crate, September 20,2006: Get out of your rut

Well, hello Roux House!
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Review: M. Ward - Post War

M. Ward makes beautiful haunting records chock-filled with brilliantly inflated lyrics.more...

Review: The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love

One of the greatest benefactors of the indie-rock hype boom, the Rapture soul claps their way right onto Motown on this release. more...

Review: Richard Buckner - Meadow

Richard Buckner has been mining a rich vein in introspective, atmospheric rock since his second album Devotion and Doubt in 1987 (Bloomed was his first and last folk album). more...

He Saw a Lot of Life In Us - Sufjan in New Orleans


Sufjan Stevens, rock-n-roll's most talented step-brother, brings his faerie carnival to the remnants of New Orleans (more...)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Trance Rock Saved My Life


The recent releases by Akron/Family, Feu Therese, Moebius and Cloudland Canyon use their hypnotic tractor beams to pull me back from the abyss (more...)

Knock That Smile Right Off Your face



Xiu Xiu may be walking on sunshine a little more on this record, but their feet are still bleeding all over the place (more...)

Review: Grizzly Bear - Yellow House


Brooklyn-based Edward Droste started the Grizzly Bear project in his home studio as a lark, intending his 2004 Horn of Plenty album as nothing more than a gift for friends.more...

Review: The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely


The Mountain Goats, comprised of singer-songwriter John Darnielle, follow last year’s inspirational The Sunset Tree, with Get Lonely, a bittersweet longing gaze into that sunset. more...

Review: Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass



Hoboken’s finest return from their three-year hiatus with a glorious new release. more...

The Record Crate: September 15, 2006

Wild at heart

Thursday night at the Red Star I sighed with relief that rock-n-roll is still dangerous and wild.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Best. Interview. Ever

Thanks to Gahl from Gorgoth, no further rock interviews ever need to be conducted.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Review: TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain


The Brooklyn quartet has been buried under an avalanche of praise dumped upon them since “Desperate Youths, Bloodthirsty Babes” came out a year ago, and on Return to Cookie Mountain the group digs their way out of the snow. more...

Review: Bob Dylan - Modern Times


Like the last couple Bob Dylan albums, this one is a flawlessly constructed re-assessment of a variety of styles that only someone with the history Dylan has can pull off. Unfortunately, it would sound better if he wasn’t on it. more...

Review: The Roots - Game Theory


Illadelphia’s finest return to form with yet another great album of politically conscious rhymes and killer beats from drummer/bandleader ?uestlove.more...

The Record Crate: September 3, 2006

This week saw so many music happenings I’m reduced to bullet points to name them all.
http://225batonrouge.com/blogs/cookies-record-crate/2006/sep/05/recordcrate090506/

I Met Ariel Pink's Mom


So when news hit that avant-garde radio-in-my-head upstart Ariel Pink was bring his freakshow to Bogalusa, LA's quotidian Centennial Fest, I had to make the trip. The good money back in Baton Rouge was that Ariel Pink would not make it out alive (more...)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Get out, Oet Out, Get Out - Alex V. Cook Interviews Jason Molina


The frontman for Songs:Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. takes some time out from his reputation for being an abrasive jerk to kindly answer an adoring fan's questions. (more...)

That’s a rap


Lil’ Boosie stars in Club 225 more...

Review: OutKast - Idlewild

Andre Benjamin and Big Boi return, upping the ambitious ante set by the impressive, but uneven Speakerboxx/The Love Inside a few years back with the sound track to their equally ambitious cinematic musical, Idlewild. more...

Review: The Gossip - GSSP RMX


The electro punk powerhouse fronted by the enigmatic Beth Ditto gets the remix treatment on this EP. more...

Review: Broadcast - Future Crayon


The Birmingham, England quintet continues to make some of the more interesting rock music to fall under the “electronica” umbrella. more...

The Record Crate: August 1, 2006

And then, the belly dancer took off her robe

Friday afternoon I got a last minute email that 225 favorite Harlan was playing a hastily scheduled tour kick-off show at the Red Star.
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The Record Crate: August 8, 2006

Oh Girl, That’s My Jam

A last ditch vacation before school starts prevented me from my usual weekend rounds but I trust that the Early Day Miners and Fatlip were both stellar additions to your star-studded weekend.
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The Record Crate: August 15, 2006

I’m pro-guitar solo, and I vote

I love it when an opening band outshines the headliner. It gets my underdog lust fired up.
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The Record Crate: August 22, 2006

Sob Stories and Musical Melodramas

My weekend started Friday at the North Gate Tavern.
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When’s the band gonna start?

Shows start later in BR than in many other cities, forcing young professionals to choose between work and play more...

The Record Crate: August 29, 2006

Making it happen

The biggest hurdle we have in life is not our inability to do things, or our lack of ideas, it’s our slack attitude toward follow-through.
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Vivre: Music - Trio livens up Spanish Town Grocery

Violist Ruth Roland’s life of making less-than-ordinary music started at an early age.
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It’s About Zen and Journey’s End

From Country Roads Magazine, September 2006

Good Karma Café, McComb, Mississippi

Right off the main drag in McComb, the cafe is a part coffee house, art gallery, performace space and restaurant.I always look forward to a jaunt up I-55 through Mississippi. The highway surrounded by a bank of majestic trees, uncluttered by billboards, provides the kind of highway Zen I look for in a day trip. At dusk the sky goes purple and pink and deep blue. For this trip, I chose to soundtrack the kaleidoscope of pink sky and green trees with Mississippi John Hurt’s “Avalon Blues”, a collection of the legendary and singular blues talent’s recordings from the ‘twenties. His cicada-like guitar style and subdued voice blend perfectly with the encroaching night as I jet up the forty-five minutes from Hammond to McComb to soak in the ambiance of another singular Mississippi landmark, the Good Karma Café.

The café started when Jeff Cazanov left his life as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and ended up in McComb and met his wife-to-be, Lori, there. They then left the South looking to find the perfect place for them. “Lori and I went on a road trip and we ended up one night in a café in Tucson,” explains Jeff, a natural storyteller. “There was great food, cool art on the wall, and people just hanging out. Lori leaned back in her chair and said ‘I could do this.’” The couple moved back to McComb with a vision and two years ago, opened the restaurant right off Delaware Street, the main drag running through the quiet city.

When I walked in, past the sno-ball stand out front and through the comfy brick patio, I understood their vision. The Good Karma Café is the embodiment of the combination coffee house, art gallery, performance space and restaurant that many friends and I have daydreamed of one day opening. Regulars mill in and out of the small place, some opting to pick a cozy table toward the back to chat; others are embroiled in a chess game in a den off to the right. After my drive, my focus is on the drinks case, with row after row of foreign beers and microbrews and boutique sodas; as well as on their menu, which offers delicious comfort food, upgraded in size and flavor. My giant ham and roast beef sandwich with a homemade honey mustard sauce was so gorgeous, I almost didn’t want to eat it, but it tasted even better than it looked. The menu changes often, offering a variety of blue-plate specials at lunch and special ethnic food nights.

The performer that evening, Austin singer-songwriter Joel Mercado-See was setting up in one corner of the main room. The musicians who come through usually play for tips, free food and drinks, all because it’s the kind of place where people can actually listen to the music. The roster runs the gamut, from touring acoustic musicians like Mercado-See and New York’s Matt Keating, to Louisiana and Mississippi folk and roots-rock like Hattiesburg’s Thomas Jackson and Baton Rouge’s Elsah. One artist that Cazanov is particularly fond of is McComb folk artist Dub Brock, aka Bobby Lounge. Brock has made quite a name for himself under his barrel-house boogie-woogie playing alter ego, garnering rave reviews in Rolling Stone and the New York Times for his elaborate, theatrical set at the 2006 JazzFest. “He is a great friend and supporter of ours,” explains Cazanov. “He painted our bathroom mural, ‘Loretta.’ Last week he dropped in and sang a-capella for a long while.”

What’s great about the setup here is that there are plenty of options: you can get up close and personal with the musicians, who usually get rolling around 8 pm; you can sneak off to one of the side rooms where you don’t have to spend your evening talking over the band; or let the music mix with the night air and congeniality of the regulars. Cazanov says of people who stop by, “They call it an oasis. They always mention that it reminds them of a place in Austin, or a place in Raleigh.”

As the band pack up around ten, and the dinner crowd was still milling around, I get a delicious cup of fresh-brewed coffee (Cazanov brags “We are the only real coffeehouse in town, and the only patio dining as well.”) for the ride home. I don’t want to leave. It really is that quasi-bohemian place that many of us seek out in our journeys. I pop in another Mississippi classic—John Lee Hooker’s The Real Folk Blues—to propel me through the still night. Next time I find myself on that hypnotic stretch of I-55, I’ll be back again.

Alex V. Cook is the Music Editor for outsideleft.com.

DETAILS.details.DETAILS
Good Karma Café
822 Delaware Avenue, McComb, MS
(601) 250-1448
www.goodkarmacafe.biz
Hours: Mon—Sat. 11 am—2 pm, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 5pm—9 pm,often later on show nights.

The Fangs, The Fur, and the Justification of Consumer Electronics


Did Cougar's transcendent guitar rock really justify this new iPod? Only me and my personal trainer know for sure. (more...)