Thursday, December 20, 2007

The kid comes around

I heard Kid Dakota years ago. They sent in a press kit and demo to a label I worked at that dropped a lotta names (in a way that makes you think, my, they are trying hard), and a demo of some songs that were, well, good, but nothing that would make you want to take them home, dub, or listen to in shipping while working all day.

My neighbor Dan lent me their follow-up CD The West Is The Future well over a year ago. It's a perfect record. It's recorded well. It says something. The varied vocals and lyrics both work. It comes in a gorgeous package. There's great flow song to song. There's incredible musicianship -- the drumming itself is beyond human. The sounds of the instruments and the sounds in the background cast settings they're so perfect. I think I'd quit my day job to be in an outfit this good.

The fellah that sings could have done an acoustic bit with these numbers. The lyrics hold up on themselves, and the subject matter, or perhaps locale -- South Dakota and Minnesota -- kinda lends itself to acoustic music. But fleshed out in this magical way, the songs are so much better. And that's quite an achievement.

The lyrics have a tone as consistent as a literary work would, a collection of related short stories, perhaps by someone like Sherwood Anderson.

duck huntin', ice fishin', Paul Bunyan, pilgrim, the thought of ten thousand lakes, at the Prairie Bowl, winterkill, be a better man, high on the horizon, the west is a promise, they're blood-related, drums in the distance, and there's unrest, and now the minister has come, tumbleweed at breakneck speed, this here county, in spite of the airplanes, bless you my beauty, the west is an old lie, bless you my little one, howdy there, pilgrim.

I've had this CD in my life since 2004. It's one to own, to cherish. It's held up as high art. I finally found a copy in Chicago last weekend. I forgot how much I liked the art ("by Will Schaff" it says). It's one to reflect on, because it's saying something. It's one to take apart musically, because this drummer Christopher McGuire, is downright incredible and original in a way that you know that mentally he has to be ordered unlike most humans, but has found a way to use that to his advantage, because the drumming seems inhuman, beyond human, yet at the very same time not too too showy.

My favorite three tracks are:

Pine Ridge
Atomic Pilgrim

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ike Turner, Dead at 76

He hit me, and it felt like a kiss.

Here's the full AP piece:

Musician Ike Turner Dies at 76

By ELLIOT SPAGAT Associated Press Writer

Dec 12th, 2007 SAN DIEGO -- Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife and icon Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76.

"He did pass away this morning" at his home in San Marcos, in northern San Diego County, said Scott M. Hanover of Thrill Entertainment Group, which managed Turner's musical career.
There was no immediate word on the cause of death, which was first reported by celebrity Web site

Turner managed to rehabilitate his image somewhat in his later years, touring around the globe with his band the Kings of Rhythm and drawing critical acclaim for his work. He won a Grammy in 2007 in the traditional blues album category for "Risin' With the Blues."

But his image is forever identified as the drug-addicted, wife-abusing husband of Tina Turner. He was hauntingly portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It," based on Tina Turner's autobiography.

In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, Turner denied his ex-wife's claims of abuse and expressed frustration that he had been demonized in the media, adding that his historic role in rock's beginnings had been ignored.

"You can go ask Snoop Dogg or Eminem, you can ask the Rolling Stones or (Eric) Clapton, or you can ask anybody — anybody, they all know my contribution to music, but it hasn't been in print about what I've done or what I've contributed until now," he said.

Turner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is credited by many rock historians with making the first rock 'n' roll record, "Rocket 88," in 1951. Produced by the legendary Sam Phillips, it was groundbreaking for its use of distorted electric guitar.

But as would be the case for most of his career, Turner, a prolific session guitarist and piano player, was not the star on the record — it was recorded with Turner's band but credited to singer Jackie Brenston.

And it would be another singer — a young woman named Anna Mae Bullock — who would bring Turner his greatest fame, and infamy.

Turner met the 18-year-old Bullock, whom he would later marry, in 1959 and quickly made the husky-voiced singer the lead singer of his group, refashioning her into the sexy Tina Turner. Her stage persona was highlighted by short skirts and stiletto heels that made her legs her most visible asset. But despite the glamorous image, she still sang with the grit and fervor of a rock singer with a twist of soul.

The pair would have two sons. They also produced a string of hits. The first, "A Fool In Love," was a top R&B song in 1959, and others followed, including "I Idolize You" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

But over the years they're genre-defying sound would make them favorites on the rock 'n' roll scene, as they opened for acts like the Rolling Stones.

The densely layered hit "River Deep, Mountain High" was one of producer Phil Spector's proudest creations. A rousing version of "Proud Mary," a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, became their signature song and won them a Grammy for best R&B vocal performance by a group.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Grizzly Bear

First of all, let me just say, I'm amused by the fact that we've got two posts of bands named after animals. Moving on...

In 1962 Phil Spector produced a song for the Crystals written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. That song was "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)." It seems Goffina nd King wrote the song as a kind of protest song after hearing a stroy from Little Eva about how her boyfriend's beating her was a sign of his love. Whoa.

At this point, you may know all of this because Brooklyn's Grizzly Bear has just released a cover of the song on their new EP, "Friend," and it seems everywhere I turn, I see a blog post about it, or hear it on a podcast. And with good reason. It's a creepy and powerful song, and Grizzly Bear's treatment is great. It might even be creepier than Spector's original recording of the Crystals. Have a listen and decide for yourself.

Grizzly Bear: He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)

The Crystals: He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Antelope Tourdates

We've mentioned the band Antelope in the blog a few times.

They just announced their tourdates behind their latest release Reflector.

I know. I got the listserv email. They're one of the few I subscribe to.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas ain't Christmas without Charlie Brown

Although the beginning of the Holiday season seems to begin ever earlier with each passing year, for me Thanksgiving still represents the true beginning of the season.

Growing up, it was on the Friday after Thanksgiving that my family would get in the car and go off in search of a Christmas tree. Living out east, in Boston, getting a tree meant driving for an hour or so to a tree farm to search out that perfect tree and cut it down ourselves, haul it back to the car, lash it to the roof, and drive home. It is one of my most cherished memories, and a tradition that I really do miss terribly.

As everyone knows, the day after Thanksgiving has now become a holiday in and of itself celebrating the almighty dollar and the peculiar American grotesque of a day of national consumption (and then for some of us, it's Buy Nothing Day, but then, given my bank account, many days are Buy Nothing Days). But all it takes to transport me back into the back seat of the family car, swimming in my oversized coat, my puffy mittens and moon boots, the bite of a cold New England November in the air, the delcious warmth of fresh, hot apple cider waiting at home to nurse me back from the cold...all it takes is Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Not only is this album a potent mnemonic for some of my most cherished memories of the season, but it is also just a fantastic record. Period.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Put this Vince Guaraldi on your iPod, seek a tree, put some apple cider on the stove and savor a few peaceful moments in an unpeaceful world.

Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas just for you. Highlights for me are "My Little Drum" and the classic "Skating."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Voot Warnings

I have a Robbie Fulks T-shirt I found in Indiana at a thrift store near The Swan's parents' river cabin. It has a line drawing of a face and says COUNTRY IS NOT PRETTY. Well, if ever there was a Voot Warnings T-shirt in my drawer, I'd want it to say VOOT WARNINGS IS NOT UGLY. Because the fellah is about as ugly in drag as a man-woman can get, and yet he's so charming, likable, attractive for one's attention.

Voot Warnings played often in Riverwest in Milwaukee in the early 90's before I left for Chicago, usually at tiny bars, and he was already a bit crusty scene veteran. Voot's music has the punk spirit, but it's not punk. It's bar band. It's rock. I'm not sure. There's not much exceptional about the music or the song structures but Voot's character is so strong it carries & captivates.

When I think of Voot, I think of him as the master in his own context, a bar like the Uptowner in Milwaukee, small, wooden, beaten, friendly and intimate. You can take Couch Flambeau out of the scene they thrive in here and they're still great rock and still funny as hell. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to see Voot play at a bigger club, and I don't think I've recommend ed his music to my friends often, if at all. But I cherish him as part of the Milwaukee I love.

In 1995 Voot Warnings released Platinum, and two of my favorite songs if his are on it, "One Hundred Pennies" (about taking the bus when you're broke) and "Jesus Christ Is My Wife" an old staple of his, written back in 1975. The lyrics still crack me up: "the virgin Mary gave birth to a fairy / he's so blonde he's golden / what do you do when your saviour's a lush / and he won't die for your sins? / ... Jesus Christ / is my wife"

His most famous song, which leads off Platinum, is Dance Motherfucker Dance (cowritten with Glen and John from Milwaukee's Plasticland). The Swan may remember me wanting to play that in Forty One Rivers as a cover -- until I read the liner notes and found out the Violent Femmes often covered it live, and eventually released it as a single in Australia. That tidbit might have let me down, but this paragraph written by Dave Luhrssen got my attention:

"Coming of age in Milwaukee in the years preceding punk rock, Warnings had few forums for his music. Instead of forming a band, he joined Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured the country as a prop boy. He was discharged from the US Navy after a short stint. He hitchhiked to the West Coast carrying only his acoustic guitar and a knapsack, and played his decidedly non-folky songs in Minneapolis and Seattle coffeehouses long before either town became known as a music city."
Platinum was produced by John Frankovic from Plasticland.

One Hundred Pennies
Jesus Christ Is My Wife


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wire article on DRM-less music.

DRM-free music and where to buy it. Discussion, ratings, insights.

21 good albums that could have been great EPs

From the Onion, 21 good albums that could have been great EPs.

Great concept. I'd say most merely good albums could have been great EPs.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Graveyard Smash

I can admit it, The Monster Mash is seriously one of my favorite songs. Ever. Otherwise, it's been a pretty sad Halloween here in San Francisco.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"When Pigs Fly"

This is almost a perfect follow-up to that last post.

I must admit I find it really hard to read long blog entries or articles on the web without printing them out, but my friend Al sent me this post on DemonBaby about the death of the music industry and I think it's a frickin' awesome summation.

When Pigs Fly: The Death of Oink, the Birth of Dissent, and a Brief History of Record Industry Suicide.

A couple notes.

I never used Oink, but his description of it makes it indeed sound like an outstanding music distribution system.

He's pretty offbase when he starts to talk about newspapers, and I have first hand knowledge of that. The big newspaper chains are dinosaurs and just as manipulative as major labels, and they hardly have evolved quickly. They've resisted change to preserve the fat profit margin of their classifieds pages, when something like Craigslist points the way that Oink does for music. So ignore his paragraph on newspapers and he'll seem 15% smarter.

This paragraph? It made me smile widely:

"For the major labels, it's over. It's fucking over. You're going to burn to the fucking ground, and we're all going to dance around the fire. And it's your own fault. Surely, somewhere deep inside, you had to know this day was coming, right? Your very industry is founded on an unfair business model of owning art you didn't create in exchange for the services you provide. It's rigged so that you win every time - even if the artist does well, you do ten times better. It was able to exist because you controlled the distribution, but now that's back in the hands of the people, and you let the ball drop when you could have evolved."
listening to "Supermarket Sweep" by Sol Seppy

"Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin"

Pretty smart article in Wired: "Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD's Coffin"

If/when I start a band I'm not sure what I'll do about releasing material. I've thought about it a bit, and arrived at the conclusion that there's not much satisfaction in making CDs anymore.

I think I'll use a graphical flowchart based color-coded web page that meets Edward Tufte specs to create a visual tree representing song generation and song cycles, the passage of time, and how songs fit together.

I like the idea of then, almost in near-time retrospect, making an LP that's almost like a best of or a thematic collection, and benefiting from perspective.

Listening to Bonnie Prince Billy 'God's Small Song'

Monday, October 22, 2007

Diamanda Galas

Long, long ago, in high school, I was record shopping and came across a cassette called “The Litanies of Satan and Wild Women With Steak Knives (A Homocidal Love Song for Solo Scream).” With a title like that, how could I NOT buy it? It was, of course, a record by Diamanda Galas.

For those who don’t know her, here’s a Wikipedia entry to get you up to speed.

After buying that one cassette, I was hooked. It was so strange and disturbing and fascinating. I continued collecting her albums, and with few exceptions, they are amazing pieces of work.

Recently a friend of mine reinstituted an old tradition of a Sunday “Listening Party” wherein a group of people gather to do some collective intentional listening. She asked me to bring a piece to share, and because I’d just happened to have pulled my collection of Diamanda Galas off the shelf for encoding, and was subsequently on a Diamanda kick (not to mention, it seemed seasonally relevent--Halloween is nearly upon us), I elected to bring a Diamanda piece called “Cris D’Aveugle.”

“Cris D’Aveugle” followed a Balinese gamelan piece called, "Hudjan Mas (Golden Rain)," and was itself followed by a Dock Boggs song (the title of which I can’t recall). In any case, it was an eclectic night, and really cool to sit down with a group of people, many who were strangers, and listen together.

Here’s three Diamanda Galas pieces from her Masque of the Red Death trilogy.

Cris D'Aveugle

Double-Barrel Prayer


Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Is Why Al Gore Invented The Internet

I can't tell you how much this video of Santana blows my mind. I know what you're thinking: Santana? He can't be serious. But yes. I am. This may rank in the top 5 most fantastic things I've ever seen. Ever.

And this Clapton video is almost just as incredible.

And finally, more amazing than all of the above, is this video of the Reunited Van Halen performing JUMP in Greensboro. Don't cheat the whole thing. trust's worth it.

The thing about the Van Halen video above that is most satisfying is that it is almost indistinguishable from this:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Minneapolis Rarities III: NNB

NNB's "Slack" edges out "Celebrated Summer" as my favorite 80s Minneapolis song. Here it is on MP3, download or play as you see fit.

Minneapolis II: Husker Du Rarities

Short post number two: Husker Du Rarities at Something I Learned Today

Minneapolis I: Dissecting The Replacements Let It Be

The Replacements Let It Be dissected by Sound Opinions.

The JenThreat would dig this show, methinks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Delivering The Bass To The People, Part II

What is a great bass sound?

There are many answers to that. Kinda like I wish they all could be California girls.


Greg, the former owner of Rockhaus, turned me onto an early 80's Milwaukee band the Oil Tasters years ago. There's a rip to Richard Lavalliere's bass that's spot on perfect to me. This is one of the many ways a bass should sound. It occupies a wide space with low end and an attack to it. It's got hiss and growl, and thunders along when it needs to. I wish I could've gotten that bass sound sometimes.

I remember once seeing Mike Watt play with Firehose, and he played his bass through a PA speaker, with a horn. It sounded a bit like this.

Rip Me by The Oil Tasters
Emma as performed by The Oil Tasters


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Delivering The Bass To The People, Part I

The Swan's Antelope post got me thinking carefully about bass playing.

In the quiet, careful tone of Young Marble Giants' Collossal Youth there's bass playing that's inventive, percussive, rhythmatic, and more. As a bassplayer, there's so much on this album to learn about occupying the space where drum machines and the ticks and thack thack thacks of measured, passing time normally exist in perscussion.

A band like the Ex can show you how to get the same sorts of effects on stringed instruments in a vital, aggressive setting, but Young Marble Giants are so gentle, understated, controlled. If I learned, years before finding YMG, melodic bass from early New Order like the Factus 8 songs and early Cure like Faith and Seventeen Seconds, and I learned about the spooky diminished 5th from November's Coming Fire, then later on (not in the passage of time in the real world, but in my own evolving discovery) Young Marble Giants taught me all about the subtleties of rhythm and percussion on the bass. For the two or so of you who wuld know the references, Ex-Chittle's "These Are The Beautiful Dogs" and The Forty One Rivers' "Dog Dot Duck" have basslines impossible without the influence of Young Marble Giants. Muted picked ticking for the win.

I have a CD of their only album on Pias America Classics. It's been hard as hell to find, but it's now seeing reissue with bonus tracks on Domino. It's beyond amazing. And sounds good on a playlist with Factus 8 New Order and Antelope both.


N.I.T.A. by Young Marble Giants

Credit In The Straight World by Young Marble Giants

YMG performing in 1980 on YouTube.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Canada on the 50 Ft Queenie

I love a few of the things PJ Harvey has done, like most of it, and am bored by a little of it.

But this piece in Exclaim in Toronto I thought was aces.

listening to Hella, Acoustics

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Way back in 2003 I was in New York for work and saw that Voltage, the band of one of my friends from the Chicago music scene, was playing Knitting Factory, so off I went to see the show (in the company of SMSorrow, actually)

This was right after the E2 Nightclub disaster, and the Rhode Island club fire, and this show was in the basement of the Knitting Factory. Those of you who know the venue know that the basement is 2 or 3 flights down through crowded stairways. Through much of the show I imagined a series of horrible scenarios in which I died in a mad rush out. What fun!

The first band on the bill was called Breaker! Breaker!, and they had a chick drummer who straddled her snare drum so that you could see her bright red panties up her skirt. The moment she sat down, the crowd (98% male) coalesced around the stage to get a good view. What was funny was that almost as soon as they started playing, everyone backed off. It was not a good set. It was so bad that even 30 minutes of staring at a girl's crotch couldn't hold the crowd's attention.

Voltage then proceeded to rock with their crazy geeked-out self-modifed instruments. But the band that followed was, for me, the highlight of the night. It was DC's Antelope. They're a 3-piece with a tight minimalist sound that I really liked. Everyone's approach to their instrument was so percussive, and it felt like they all had a fresh take on how to play in a 3-piece. It was exciting. I bought their debut s/t EP.

Closing out the night was a kickass assault by Parts and Labor, who were recently featured on Sound Opinions.

Recently, I've been trying to digitze a lot fo my CDs, so I've been going back through a lot of stuff I've not listened to in a while. Today brought Antelope off the shelf and into my headphones. What a great EP. It's 6 songs at less than 15 minutes, and it's great.

I love the role the bass plays, and in listening to it, I thought of how much I like Arum's bass playing, which is often surprising and counter-intuitive, but almost always just right.

Looks like Antelope just released a full-length this year, and I've got it on my eMusic "save for later" list.

Meantime, please, all of you, enjoy the following tracks:

Download Antelope: "Game Over"

Download Antelope: "Goggles"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joe Strummer

Last night, I went to the Oriental Theater to watch Julien Temple’s documentary of Joe Strummer, subtitled The Future is Unwritten (, which was running as part of the Milwaukee International Film Fest. I found it interesting, but not outstanding.

It opens with a collage of images relating to Strummer’s early life—pictures of him and his mom and dad, which were interspersed with footage from Turkey and Britain, commentary from unnamed older folks who knew Strummer way back when, and snippets from newsreels, added to show why Strummer thought the way he did. We learn that Strummer’s brother, David, I believe, postered his room with Nazi propaganda and committed suicide at an early age. We also learn that Strummer was a hippy before he was a punk. It was amusing to see footage of him with long hair, but unsurprising to hear that he turned his back on all his hippy friends when he went punk. Anyone he associated with, at least in the early days, had to dress and act the part of a punk or they were ostracized.

The film traced Strummer’s life in its entirety. It showed how out of sorts and depressed he felt after the band broke up, and showed a strange side to him in his later years, when he’s walking down the street and enthusiastically describing the value of techno music. I admire that he always cared about the state of the world, and didn’t know that The Clash once reunited to play a benefit for British firefighters, and were able to raise $2 million quid for them. More people and bands should follow Strummer’s lead, and I believe that is partly why Temple filmed the movie the way he did, but, sadly, most folks are too caught up in materialism these days, and the system is becoming more like an insanely corrupt police state by the day, so he may be on of the last rock stars to take on the establishment so forcefully.

I don’t name myself as a diehard Clash fan, so a lot of the information presented in the film was new to me. I went to the movie to learn more, and I did, but it would have been helpful to know each interviewee’s name. I recognized many faces—Steve Buscemi, Bono, Matt Dillion, Anthony Kiedis and Flea from the Chili Peppers, Courtney Love, who starred in Straight to Hell with Strummer, and David Lee Roth, who pontificated that bands like The Clash need to understand they shouldn’t take life so seriously. However, since Temple chose not to include tag lines when new faces appeared, watching it was a tad confusing and frustrating at times. The names were listed at the end of the film, but that was hardly helpful. Nonetheless, it was a nostalgic look back at someone who has influenced and excited countless music fans, so I recommend seeing it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nick Lowe Live, and others, too.

All Songs Considered, which is linked on the right hand side of "Flealess" links, has a series of live shows posted on their site, and occassionally delivered as podcasts. I just listend to Nick Lowe, and it was fucking great.

Arum, there's a Black Angels concert, too.

They've also got concerts from the likes of John Vanderslice, Richard Thompson, and Bjork. Here's the full list of the Concert Series.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hermeneutics of Juxtaposition, A Case Study

Two albums that have totally captivated me of late are Grinderman's "Grinderman" and Mavis Staples's "We'll Never Turn Back."

There really couldn't be two more different records. Mavis Staples is a polished jewel of a record, deeply groovy grooves with Ry Cooder's guitar and production laying the foundation, the Freedom Singers doing these transcendant BVs and Mavis Staples on top of it all, channelling something powerful. Listening to this record is truly a special experience, almost religious. Somehow through the music and through her voice, Mavis makes you feel like she is singing just to you, just for you. She's a shaman bringing something holy from the 'other world' to make you better when you didn't even know you were ill. This record makes me want to dance, and to cry, to protest, and to praise.

Grinderman is raw and rude, dripping with the dirty sex of middle-aged men thinking lascivious thoughts about your 16-year old daughter. Nick Cave leads this raucous orgy of distortion into the filthy depths of your darkest secret feelings and pulls them into the sunlight where they ride shotgun in a '68 Dodge Charger speeding down the highway with you behind the wheel, crazed and dangerous, your whole body throbbing with the maxed out volume on your stero blasting Grinderman.

Driving home the other night I wanted to hear "99 1/2" from the Mavis record, and when it was done, something clicked in me, and I immediately put on "Go Tell The Women" by Grinderman. I think it was the little single note guitar hook featured in each song that led me to the connection, but the more I listen to these songs together, the more they seem made to be played together. The yin and the yang, or, two sides of the same coin. Have a listen and pick your own cliche.

Mavis Staples, "99 1/2"

Grinderman, "Go Tell The Women"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's got a good beat and you can dance...err... workout to it!

Now that I'm into my daily workouts at the gym, my standard iTunes play list is getting a little old and repetitive. Any suggestions on some good music that keeps a good, consistent tempo?

Nine Inch Nails has been a staple in my workout... any other ideas?

Galaxie 500 was kick ass at at delivering covers to the people

About Lydon, I never liked the Sex Pistols, but I loved PIL.

Galaxie 500 does a wonderful cover of Submission, though, on a Peel Sessions release. Also of a song called Moonshot, but I don't remember who that's by.

now listening to Black Postcards by Luna, which propelled him to write this

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Black Angels

Every once in a while there's a band I encounter that I like so much I was in them. Black Angels goes there for me. They came up in discussion in May at my birthday party, and I tried out the Passover release, which, remarkably, our public library has.

It's When the Levee Breaks meets VU, and I love it. I guess when I was young and liked what I thought of as goth music, this was the kind of darkness I sought.

There isn't much on the disc that hasn't been done before, but it's all done well. Wide fuzztones, driving rhythms, pounding basslines, haunting organ. This is what I want to listen to when I'm driving. This is what I want to listen to when I'm working. This is what I want to listen to when I'm doing the dishes. This is what I want to listen to when I play videogames.

Standout tracks? All of them. Err... one or two? Black Grease and Better Off Alone.

I wish every Wednesday I was going to practice and playing this set.

now listening to Unsatisfied by the Replacements


Listen to BLACK GREASE by the Black Angels

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mr. Lydon

It's funny to me seeing Mr. Lydon on his high horse. While I do perceive one album that he made, over his 15 or so year career as a musician, as genuinely disquieting and subversive (The Flowers of Romance, if you're keeping score), I don't see this album alone (nor even Metal Box, which is lovely if remarkably humble and unconfrontational) as qualifying John Lydon for judging other people's subversiveness or insight.

If swearing on English TV qualifies him for such platitudes, then we might need to give similar credence to the cast of Saturday Night Live once upon a time (or maybe Janet Jackson for her wardrobe malfunction).

Among my favorite albums this year, and probably the one that has impressed me the most, Machinefabriek Weleer is every bit as subversive as The Flowers of Romance, maybe moreso (time will tell). It's disquieting, uncomfortable, and incredibly in your face. Everything that I want a great album to be.

Yer pretty good with words

Stuck Between Stations, the Hold Steady fan video, in clay figures and stop action.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I agree, John Lydon

In an interview with the LA Daily News that was reprinted in the Milwaukee Urinal, Mr. Lydon made the following comments:

Q.What's the state of songwriting these days?

A. It's horrible. Music is just another career choice for young people. They're not using any of their life experiences.

Q.Why is that?

A. It's all lost in a malaise of video games and mummy and daddy buying everything for you. The result is you get alleged pop stars preening about how much wealth they've got. It's this smug cynicism. People just sit on their lazy computerized (behinds), complaining about everything and saying, "I want, I want."

He is right. I fall into this unproductive, depressing trap, too. Sometimes I think I need to have media free days, but being online is a necessity for work and communication. It sucks that most mainstream (and indie?!) musicians don't send an IN YOUR FACE message. Perhaps some lesser known bands do. I just haven't been moved by a band's message in eons. We were even discussing this topic in my class last night. Students argued that big record labels do not want to promote rabble rousing, which seems to go hand in hand with Bush's ideology. SQUELCH ALL DISSENT! Like Lydon's, their observation rings true, because major telecommunication companies went along with his illegal wiretapping program. Big Brother indeed.

Anyhow....I am sure if I search harder, when time allows, I will unearth a new band to rock my world. In the meantime, any suggestions!?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Sliding on a Galcier

I'm listening to Erdem Helvacioglu Altered Realities from last year. On first listen, I'm underwhelmed. He plays guitar through lots of digital processing. Not so much edited like Christopher Willits, but played with lots of high frequency overtones added on top through processing. His playing is abstract and new age-y, and the overtone processing is mostly one-dimensional. It sounds nice, but neither the compositions nor the sounds seem to have a lot of movement. I'd heard good things and was hoping for better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Strange News from the Angels

I'm listening to the 3Ds Dust EP. I always forget how great a band they were--I didn't fully appreciate it when I got the chance to see them. They sort of sound like indie rock, but the songs aren't obviously catchy. At the time, I was just confused. It almost seemed like it might be a mistake? Now I get it--the melodies are strange on purpose. I was stupid when I was young. This EP is great. The acoustic song fits nicely, the recording while a bit lo-fi is very tasteful, and it has aged fantastically well. The other day I listened to the M's and I noticed similarities that I'd never thought about between the two.

This morning's less impressive listening was the Boats fairly recent CD, Tomorrow Time, on Moteer. The instrumental songs have a nice mix of weird glitchy electronic noises and acoustic instruments, but about half of the songs have vocals and these are pretty badly thought out. They're on the generic indietronic side of things, but not very well recorded or conceived. I wasn't sold on this one, unfortunately.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Ah, the Speedfreaks. And Cleveland Bound Death Sentence (or CBDS, because initials are cool, and as easy to poke pun of as colorful Bob Dylan shirts). And Dr Shrinker ("Shinker, Doctor Shrinker, they're a bad band overamplified"). And Krangkorr.

That post brings back fond memories of Bad Brains cassettes through homemade PAs & pretty girls with Kool Aid hair and endless youthful energy-- even though I don't have any memories of Speedfreeks, per se. Never saw them. When I was learning to play bass they were an active band in the basement punk scene and all ages scene. I never saw them, and don't know a single song of theirs, and honestly, even at that time was looking more to the ideas that naturally follow punk than to punk itself, but still…. what an amazing time of open eyes and wide learning. I intend to play music again someday, perhaps next year or so starting up again, and it's that energy I want to harken back to.

Swan, didn't you have a buddhistic term for that? The 'curse of knowledge' or something like that?

I have a friend named Steve in my neighborhood and he's a creative and smart and enjoyable person to be around in everyday life. For a while I started playing in a band with him, and he tried to play guitar even though he really didn't know how to play guitar. It was as exciting as high school practices in a garage on old 14th street. He had great instinct and injected personality in what he did, and had a natural ear and original vision of where guitar should fit in a composition.

RIYL [insert three bands]. It's so easy for me to describe even the bands or songwriters I really like these days in terms of two or three influences. Maybe it's a naïve looking back, but it didn't seem so much like that when I first fell in love with records. I remember hearing that some Dangerhouse band in LA ordered a pizza and the guy who delivered the pizza quit his job and became their drummer because they got him high and he thought they were awesome to hang out with. Had no idea what punk rock was, but had a blast with them, and could play drums. Maybe that's apocryphal, but I don't care, I like the idea of throwing people who like different musics and have different distinct personalities into a situation and seeing what happens… not playing together because their shared vision is that they like both Bedhead and Sonic Youth.

When I mentioned the Effigies Sound Opinions show in a prior post, I put it there in part because of them talking about the environment they came of age in, and how exciting it was, but how they were forced to be original because there was no worn path to follow in term of how to sound, how to put out records, how to book a tour, etc. I believe it's truly hard to get back to that energy because of the curse of the ease of that worn path now, but I also believe it's always possible to get in touch with true creative energy, and that there's always a frontier.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Subhumans and Speedfreaks

Subhumans on Friday night at the Miramar in Milwaukee did not move me. Speedfreaks at the VFW in Bayview on Saturday did. They are both bands that originated quite awhile back (Subhumans in late seventies/early eighties? Speedreaks about fifteen years ago I was told?). I found it interesting that I was totally bored at one show, but completely taken in at the other. The vastly different venues and the slightly different crowds may have accounted for it. It's so strange, though. On Friday I felt I was just way too old and that I was just reveling in forgone nostalgia, and that I should just stop going to these shows and just continue rocking out at home, where I most enjoy a lot of this stuff, or in the fucking car on my too-long commute, but on Saturday I felt revitalized and that I should maybe try to pay attention to some of the local bands. Maybe all is not lost for old folks?

Dukakis '88

I grew up in Boston in a neighborhood with a large Greek community. In addition to knowing the correct pronunciation of Gyros before all my friends, I was also always fascinated by the CDs and Cassettes I'd see in Greek owned stores--albums by local Greek performers who suffered from the bad fashion sense that seemed to me to be endemic to all Greeks, which was compounded by the prevailing fashion woes of the 1980s.

In 1988, when Michael Dukakis, the Greek-American Governor of Massachusetts, won the Democratic nomiation for President, all those badly dressed Bostonian Greek would-be pop stars started writing and recording campaign songs. One such CD, "Dukakis for President" by City Boy (not the 70s Brit rockers), found its way into the novelty collection of my friend Alex.

We would play it over and over, lip-synch to it, and just generally enjoy the badness. Last night I got an email from Alex, who just made a silly video and posted it to YouTube. Now you, too, can enjoy City Boy's "Dukakis for President."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Amy Winehouse--Why the hype?

Last month in Vogue, or Elle, I read an article about punk music and fashion, something like that. The author excitedly wrote that Amy Winehouse is one of the few modern artists who pulls off a punk fashion sense, and that her voice is very tremendous and unique. I'm very loosely paraphrasing here, but the point is that I was persuaded to go online and download a track by her. I don't normally pay attention to musicians/bands who are getting a lot of hype in the mainstream media because they usually disappoint. Winehouse was no exception. I listened to her hit, "You Know I Am No Good," and was a little shocked at how derivative it was. Curious about the rest of the album, I "sampled" the tracks via "Me % Mr. Jones" has a really fifties soul feel too, and it's catchy, but I'd rather listen to a BLACK soul artist from my Mojo Soul Comp. The more I think about all of the white musicians who knock off what was created by blacks and who sometimes if not often earn a lot more money for it, the madder I get. Elvis didn't invent rock and roll, and neither did the fucking Stones. Both contributed to music significantly, of course, but neither 'invented' anything. They simply built upon a sound that already existed.

Winehouse and her success is a total sham. She sounds like another white vocalist knocking off black vocalists. What's there to hype about that? And the way she looks--well, she makes me shudder. I guess I should be embarrassed for trolling, occasionally, but man, eat woman, eat!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Make a Record

Just in, from a friend in Minneapolis:
The Suicide Commandos will be opening for Fountains Of Wayne at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand on Sunday August 26th at 8pm

The Suicide Commandos' album Make a Record was the second release on Blank, just after Pere Ubu's The Modern Dance. Vague comparisons to early Cheap Trick and early Ramones don't quite do it justice. I'm not sure what does.

If you ever run into Craig Finn from the Hold Steady, ask him about taking guitar lessons from ex-Suicide Commando Chris Osgood. It's a really funny story.

I'm usually a skeptic about reunion shows, but I wish I could make it to this one!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Will the Real Bob Dylan Please Stand Up

I've heard bits and pieces about the new Todd Haynes picture, I'm Not There, and being a huge Dylan fan, I've been intrigued and excited. On Pitchfork today comes news of more musical contributors to the soundtrack, which looks to be shaping up pretty well.

For those who don't know Haynes's work, he's the director behind Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls for all the parts, instead of actors. Another of his excellent films is SAFE, an underrated and really disturbing movie which is as much a tour-de-force for Julianne Moore as it is for Haynes's creepy antiseptic, almost Kubrickean direction. Haynes was also the guy behind the ersatz glam rock movie Velvet Goldmine, and the Oscar nominated Far From Heaven.

For the Dylan biopic, he's recruited several actors to play the part of His Bobness, including Cate Blanchett!! And this is really what's prompted this post today. I saw this clip of Blanchett (whom I absolutely adore, adore, adore) as Dylan, with David Cross as Allen Ginsberg, and I got incredibly excited about this movie. Blanchett is amazing in recreating Dylan's mannerisms. Even her voice is pretty good as Dylan (she is, after all, a woman).

Watch this clip of Dylan circa 1965, and compare it with this clip from Haynes's film. There's also this clip of Dylan and Lennon in a cab in London, drunk off their asses.

Ms. Blanchett has been doing her homework.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

fake industrial detritus

Greenpoint seems to have a reputation as a trendy neighborhood, but there are still plenty of old industrial spaces that haven't been converted into trendy residential lofts. In walking past them, if their doors are open, it's not surprising to see actual industrial detritus. It was far stranger when walking past one this morning (the weather is nice here and opening doors is logical) to see fake industrial detritus. I immediately recognized the work of Richard Serra and did a double-take. It made more sense in the industrial space (which is obviously now used for shipping valuable art) than in a museum or gallery and looked beautiful.

Vaguely related recent reading that was quite good: Harold Rosenberg, The Anxious Object.

Obligatory music comment: now playing, Rolan Vega, documentary.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Live for Each Moment

Listened earlier today to Polyphonic Size Vivre Pour Chaque Instant. They were from Belgium in the early-80s, and this one is their sole full-length album (my copy is on the very obscure Lark label, though the Internet tells me that the bigger New Rose has also been involved along the way). It's strange to me that an album produced by Stranglers bassist JJ Burnel is so raw, as the Stranglers albums tended to be very slick new wave affairs. It's a primitive, vaguely dark, synth-heavy record (though the closing "Je T'ai Toujours Aimee" brings an uplifting if tonally awkward end) with textures that sound rough and aged. Not rough to the industrial extremity of Cabaret Voltaire, just not polished as was the English/European style at the time. In some ways it sounds more like a classic rock record despite the style of the music. They sing almost entirely in French. It's an odd, pretty, and engaging record that I'd definitely recommend. This Website is in English and French.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Effigies interview

The interview with the Effigies on this week's Sound Opinions show was a really good listen. The way they describe the energy of those early 80's days inspires me still.

currently listening to Townes Van Zandt

The Secret History of Songs

Anyone who's heard Bob Dylan play live (or heard live recordings) knows that he can be pretty mercurial in his reinterpretations of his own work (could that be what he meant when he spoke of "that wild mercury sound" in that famous Playboy interview with Ron Rosenbaum?)

A perfect example of this is "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," which he recorded so starkly with just voice, guitar, and a little mouth harp for color on "The Times They Are A-Changin'" in 1964, and then transformed it into a groovy rock number with the Rolling Thunder Review in 1975. Both are remarkable versions, with unique powers all their own.

Download '64 Hattie Carroll
Download '75 Hattie Carroll

I always get the sense that when Dylan is reinterpreting his work, he essentially re-writing it, as if his songs are never quite finished. (George Lucas, who thinks far too much of himself, says in a DVD special feature that "a great filmmaker once said that films are never finished, only abandoned." As far as I can tell, the only filmmaker to have said this is George Lucas. But I digress. The point is, I think it's actually an interesting idea: A work of art is never completed, only abandoned.)

As an artist, I think it's pretty humbling and instructive to think about this. It's easy to get wrapped up in your creative choices to the point where they seem like the only possible choices. You can spend so much time finessing details that you get attached to things that may or may not be worth holding onto. In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard puts it this way:

"The line of words is a hammer. You hammer against the walls of your house. You tap the walls, lightly, everywhere. After giving many years of attention to these things you know what to listen for. Some of the walls are bearing walls. They have to stay, or everything else falls down. Other walls can go with impunity; you can hear the difference. Unfortunately, it is often a bearing wall that has to go. It cannot be helped. There is only one solution, which appalls you, but there it is. Knock it down. Duck. Courage utterly opposes the bold hope that this is such fine stuff the work needs it, or the world. Courage, exhausted, stands on bare reality: this writing weakens the work. You must demolish the work. AND START OVER. You can save some sentences, like bricks. It will be a miracle if you can save some paragraphs, no matter how excellent in themselves, or hard won. You can waste a year worrying about it, or you can get it over with now. (The Writing Life, 73)…"

I've been thinking about all this today because on the way to work I was listening to the All Songs Considered podcast (Arum: consider this a sidebar link endorsement) and they played a track from the 'new' Stephen Stills release, "Just Roll Tape." The story is this: Stephen Stills and Judy Collins were a hot item in 1968. Stephen was hanging around the studio while Judy was recording. When she finished the session, Stills slides the engineer a couple hundred bucks to stick around, and he picks up a guitar, sits down in the studio, and says "Just roll tape." The tapes were left at the studio, forgotten, and only recently did they find their way back to Stills, who's released them, apparently after much cajoling form Graham Nash.

The recordings include early versions of CSN classics, such as "Wooden Ships" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" but it was the recording of "Know You've Got To Run" that caught my attention this morning. It's an early version of the closing track on CSNY's Deja Vu, "Everybody I Love You."

Both versions have much to recommend them (if you're into Dirty Hippy Music), and certainly the early version is as good or better than a lot of Stills work, or CSN work. But between the '68 version and the 1970 version that CSNY recorded, much changed, and it's fascinating to get a glimpse of a song's evolution, it's secret history.

Download Stephen Stills "Know You've Got to Run"

Download CSNY "Everybody I Love You"

Monday, August 6, 2007

Weeds, Chick Singers, Saunas

I don't get cable, so when it comes to the hot cable produced TV shows, I rely on DVD, which I actually quite like. It's a pretty enjoyable way to watch television...marathon style.

This weekend I finshed watching the second season of Weeds which is a pretty great show. One of the things that I really love about the show is their use of music. Whoever is responsible for the song selection is really on top of it; the music is consistently great. Here's a complete list, with listening opportunities.

In theory, I am suspicious of the trend towards the 'synergy' of television and music as a means to promote music in the waning days of radio. In theory, I'm opposed to someone else establishing my emotional and visual associations for a piece of music, but in practice, when it's done well, it can be a remarkably effective way to bolster a scene, as well as to expose the music to a wider listenership. At least twice while watching Weeds, I've heard a song I liked, by an artist I didn't know, and I've gone directly to iTunes and bought their album. In both cases, I've found that I like the artist. And the songs, re-contextualized on their albums, have been strong enough to break free the shackles of their television associations.

For the record, Dan Reeder's "Work Song" totally blew me away with it's directness, it's mixture of irony and resignation. And Regina Spektor's version of Malvina Reynolds "Little Boxes" was my favorite of Season 2. Despite the fact that I love Chick Singers, I'd never managed to give Regina Spektor a listen. Weeds changed that, and I've not been disappointed.

Speaking of chick singers, and Dan Reeder.... Dan Reeder reminds me a little of the kind of irreverent humor sometimes found in the work of Dan Bern, one of my favorite songwriters. Interestingly, both dudes are named "Dan" and both are painters with a kind of childlike style. Dan Bern wrote a great song in homage to chick singers, which he titled, appropriately enough, Chick Singers.

Finally, for no reason other than I like this band-- a great live act--I want to share a little Drakkar Sauna with y'all. When I've seen them live, it's been 2 guys, one on guitar, and the other surrounded by an assortment of instruments like chord organs, shakers, guitars, melodicas. They sing in constant harmony, and create this eerie old-timey sound. The multi-instrumentalist aslo plays the "Tambourine Shoe" which is a tambourine affixed to his show, so his foot tapping keeps the beat. They wrote a song about it!

Download Dan Bern's Chick Singers.

Download Drakkar Sauna's The Debut of the Tambourine Shoe

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Terrible as an Army with Banners

A bit ago, when I wrote about the Dead C's Clyma Est Mort, I was impressed with its obvious influence on so much outside/avant rock of recent years. This morning, I listened to a comparably beautiful record with little to no recognizable impact on anything being made today, Henry Cow's In Praise of Learning. It's a remarkable, unusual record that bears no relationship to anything remotely fashionable these days. It crosses boundaries of rock, classical, and (rarely) jazz traditions in most unexpected ways. There's a driving rock drum kit, lots of close mics, and obvious use of compression. Vocal songs sometimes rely on an emotional palette that obviously relates to rock. There are also classical instruments (bassoon, oboe, clarinet), through composition, and an epic/stately sweep that are usually associated with a classical idiom. Some of the strange textures live outside of any of these obvious referents. The boundary-crossing is strange and memorable, but it hardly explains the real majesty and beauty of this record. It does help explain how offputting it feels by any notion of music in 2007--there isn't a logical micro-genre in which it can reside anywhere in today's litany of subcategorization. 1975 was a long time ago indeed.

I did see the Fred Frith/Chris Cutler/Tim Hodgkinson show at the Stone in Manhattan in December and it was special (it didn't sound much like In Praise of Learning either). The show clearly manifested how each of their playing styles owes a debt to their years of collaboration and interplay.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tim Fite's Gone Ain't Gone

I recently bought Tim Fite's Gone Ain't Gone recording. Weirdness, Acousticness, Intelligence. I like it.

I suggest checking him out.

Go figure, he has a website.

A pretty cool one, too.

currently listening to Tim Fite's I Hope Yer There

My flag boy is gonna set your flag on fire

Speaking of covers, I had "Iko Iko" stuck in my head all last night - the version from Cyndi Lauper's 2nd album, which yeah, ok, I did buy. I was about 14: sue me, PeeWee Herman is on there, and I think that LP long gone or at least 2500 miles away now. "Dude," you're thinking, "are you saying your introduction to the music of greater New Orleans was Cyndi Lauper?" No, absolutely not. I am pretty sure I had seen the James Bond movie Live And Let Die by then.
More recently, as in this year, I've been playing this mix of hiphop/funk brass bands. It's hot. PeeWee does not appear.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Am I Born to Preach the Gospel?

While eating breakfast this morning at a trendy nook in Brooklyn, I heard "I Had a Good Mother and Father". It was, thankfully, Washington Phillips's original, and his music was playing the entire time I was there. I really should own his work on some reissue or another, I need more dulceola in my life.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

And Then I See. . . A Hard Life

Past posts have me thinking about covers. I’ve probably got about 6 or 7 thoughts on the subject, but here are my top three.

I keep coming back to the 2003 album Master And Everyone by Will Oldham. It took years to fully sink in, but I think it’s a near perfect record, and I love so many things about it – beginning with the lyrics and their delivery, but also the recording and the instrumentation, and even the cover art. It’s a mature piece. I used to think he was pretty hit or miss, but I find that with enough time to digest, I can see the intelligence and artfulness and complexity in most of his released.

There’s a number of near perfect songs on that record, not the least of which is titled “Hard Life”. Johnny Cash is dead, and it’s doubtful there’s an unreleased cover of this sitting on a reel somewhere, but lord, he could’ve delivered the lyrics well. Of that I’m certain.

And it's a hard life
For a man with no wife
Babe, it's a hard life
God makes you live

But without it,
Don't doubt it
You don't even have
Your tears to give

I wake up and I'm fine
With my dreaming still on my mind
But it doesn't take long, you see
For the demons to come and visit me
And I've got my problems
Sometimes love doesn't solve them
And I end each day in a song

And it's a hard life
For a man with no wife
Lord, it's a hard life
God makes you live

But without it,
Baby don't doubt it
You don't even have
Your tears to give

I know I'm a hard man
To live with sometimes
Maybe it ain't in me
To make you a happy wife of mine

And maybe you'll kill me
Honey I don't blame you
If I were in your place,
Maybe that's what I would do…

The Bauhaus treatment.

Bauhaus is one of the bands that led me to play music. That’s no secret. Maybe there’s a little shame in having a goth-y past, but really, I still think the world of Bauhaus, and always have. I retain a lifelong affection for them, and each era in my life I’ve seen them as having sustained value, whether or not they were in vogue at the moment.

Their approach to covers seems unique to me. Maybe not so much their approach, but their relationship to them. First off, they nailed them. They’re uniformly wonderful to me. Specifically, T Rex’s Telegram Sam, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Eno’s Third Uncle, and Cale’s Rosegarden Funeral of Sores. They weren’t digging deep into their LP collection and turning new people onto some rare strenturengt artist. They went at the songs with their own energy, but didn’t reinvent them, like say, M Ward’s version of Let’s Dance that I mentioned earlier. Just from listening to them, and the uniform energy they have, I feel in the center of them a great enthusiasm. Raw, genuine enthusiasm. I imagine them loving playing them in practice, the way I loved playing Moonage Daydream or Gary Numan songs or Sonic Youth songs with Chris Fuller, and then deciding there was nothing wring in sharing that enthusiasm with their fans. There’s a sincerity there I really like. And while they didn’t reinvent these songs, they didn’t just duplicate them, echo them. The way I’d phrase it, they gave them their own unique treatment.

The iPod changes everything. One thing is does is releases the gems from sketchy un-uniform compilations, including comps themed on covering an individual artist.

I remember the first of these I heard – the Heaven and Hell VU comp with Wedding Present coving She’s My Best Friend (a great song for a wedding by the way) and Nirvana doing Here She Comes Now’ the Bridge Neil Young comp with Winterlong performed by the Pixies.

Then came a landslide of them. And of dubious quality. There were often some standout tracks among the trash, though. And some releases had some really priceless takes, like the Beck and M Ward songs on the Daniel Johnston comp, most of the Grievous Angel Graham Parsons comp (surprisingly, Sheryl Crow doing Juanita with Emmylou Harris is amazing), and a lot of the Townes Van Zandt comp (Lucinda Williams doing Nothing there is unbelievably haunting).

Anyway, in the iPod age, these cover songs I like to listen to are so much more accessible and easy to blend into my listening habits. They’re liberated from their original, uneven, often poor context.

currently listening to The Slits, Vindictive

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Various, Sundry

I saw my friend Matt Hohmann’s band Bully Pulpit play over the weekend at a crazy, ancient Czech restaurant in Cicero on Saturday at a show my friend Mark put together. Man, they were incredible. Once again, complete left turn for them. Three guitars + bass + soft & somewhat jazzy drums. Intricate fingerpicking on one lefthanded guitar upside down and Hohmann arpeggiating oddness and playing weird, sometimes atonal yet fitting chords, little distortion involved, so you could really hear the intervals. Kinda Californian sounding to me (someone, I’m not saying who, likes Slovenly). Mostly instrumental at first, then some softly sung vocals, then some shouted ones. Lots of personality, lots of originality. Me likes.

Poster Children also played. Rick and Rose are such interesting people. I saw Rick’s art since then, as I check up on everyone I meet on the Internet, to prove they have not suddenly become criminals. See this.

The new Lucinda Williams release, West, is incredible in my book. Her immediately previous effort didn’t ring so true to me. Lyrics and vocals and arrangements on West are all clearly superior. Come On and Wrap My Head Around That are my favorite tracks so far.

She also did an outstanding cover of Nothing on a Townes tribute record. Man. Crushing. Go find it. It’ll break your heart & spirit in two, and singularly pull together your attention and not let it go for a few minutes.

Slint plays Spiderland and Sonic Youth Daydream Nation and that’s a neat idea and all, but too bad you can’t buy the final final performance’s guitar on eBay, (I say sarcastically). Great piece on it in the SF Weekly by Michael Goldberg. They would’ve been better off without 2005 happening, what with the $55 hoodies and the eBay auctions and all. Reuniting to play Spiderland all the way through, once, and that’s it would’ve been a smarter move, but then, what do I know. I haven’t ripped them off in a couple of years, so I’m clearly out of the loop.

I’ve not watched TV much for the last few years, but coming back from Chicago two weeks ago I saw the drummer from Trenchmouth Fred on the TV at the rest stop on the gas pump TV monitor. That’s crazy and kinda cool. Trill has a DVD of Christopher Walken that has him on it, too. For the record, I never listened to Trenchmouth because I thought the name was stupid. That’s just how it works sometimes. I saw him later on in a salsa band, though, and he was a great drummer.

I wish I could find Fred’s SxSW video on the web. Poo. I can’t.

Ray LaMontagne has a CD at the Milwaukee Public Library called Till the Sun Turns Black and between the cover art and CD and song titles I decoded to give it a shot. Man, great stuff. Country meets Tim Buckley. Good lyrics and orchestration. But it all may be a matter of expectations. I was expecting crap, but it was a free listen and I was in a good mood. Funny how that works, eh?

Currently listening to Joy Division, Transmission

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Mix is So Bizarre

I still lived in Chicago when the Eternals first started, and I was initially a skeptic. I always liked Trenchmouth, but only somewhat enthusiastically. They were a weird, interesting Gang of Four-tinged punk band at a time when the style was out of vogue (c.f. 2002). When the Eternals rose out of the ashes of Trenchmouth, I was pretty neutral--they seemed mostly like a quieter and less energetic Trenchmouth with a bit of Tortoise thrown in, and this shift didn't seem to flatter them to my ears.

With each year, the Eternals have impressed me more, and I've gone back and reinvestigated. Where the early 12"s segregated the "weird parts" and the "rock songs", they've slowly integrated the two sides of the band to far better effect. I bought Out of Proportion when it came out (the Eternals have made me excited to buy their records because they consistently do release records, on vinyl, the way they were meant to be). Out of Proportion emphasizes the band's most chaotic side and can feel impenetrable, but it features some strong songs too. By the time I bought Rawar Style, I was hooked, and that record has rewarded repeated listens.

Heavy International finishes the union of chaos and rock songs, with drummer Tim Mulvenna's jazz background providing an anchor not unlike Jaki Leibzeit's jazz pull in Can (I'm aware that those are strong words). They're pretty overwhelming live at this point with such a spectacular rhythm section, and Heavy International equals the live show. The crazy noises and effects finally blend seamlessly into the songs, and the compositional ideas really leave room for this freedom. It's an impressive summary of so many years of development into a refined, bizarre whole that's both accessible and offputting at the same time. Count me a fan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

the artifact is officially dead, Arum says so

This week I downloaded a new release in its entirety for the first time. It was Spoon's new work, in fact.

That's a milestone.

I've recently migrated all my CDs to iTunes, and I've subscribed to eMusic, and scanned it for things I've lost or forgotten, and found some gems, but never before did I substitute buying the tracks for buying the artifact.

Some thoughts about the consequences of this.

CD artwork never mattered a ton to me, not like LP artwork. So I don't mourn that loss.

Words trump numbers once again. "Listen to track 8, it's great" won't be in the lingo anymore. Once again I know song titles. And I forgot how great Trumans Water song titles were. "Yakboy=Nurterer".

Emusic trumps iTunes. Thanks to Jet Aspirin for that. I feel like I'm at the Gap or at the mall when I'm in the iTunes store. The eMusic selection isn't perfect, but it's a hell of a lot more fun to peruse. And no DRM.

How the hell does the artist know how many times someone really downloaded their song from a third party distributor like eMusic? I bet that one has kept Cory Rusk up at night.

"I just got the new record/album/CD by XYZ" is now "I just got the new release by XYZ".

We're all librarians now. Catalogers. And some of us poor ones. I mean, who the hell submitted all the Richard Hell albums to the track listing storage database with "(Album Version)" after the song title? People like that should be shot on sight in the new world order.

Questions for you. What was the first track you downloaded? The first entire release? The first artist you discovered browsing through a web music store like iTunes?


listening to some Mission of Burma track

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tricky Zingers

Mid 70s Milwaukee band Creme Soda had completely eluded my radar. I still have not heard them but I'm eager to. Any wisdom in Bay View?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

A Tom Waits MP3 I like

THEY'RE JUST GIVING THIS SHIT AWAY: Tom Waits and Kronos Quartet, 'Way Down in the Hole' Mp3

When Grandma Plays the Banjo

I learned about Roy Wood's first solo album, Boulders, when I interviewed Chris Knox a lot of years ago. It's a weird one. Lots of pitched vocals (probably tape sped up and slowed down, no digital pitch shifting in 1973), and he amazingly plays every instrument on the record except harmonium on 2 songs. It ranges from some really beautiful pop songs, like "Nancy, Sing Me a Song", to some really absurd sections, like "When Grandma Plays the Banjo". Unlike comparable records from around the same time (1st McCartney, 1st Emitt Rhodes), he did it all in studios and none at home. Alan Parsons was one of the engineers, at about the same time he was recording Pilot ("Oh oh oh it's magic") and Dark Side of the Moon. The jumps in character and personality (though really not so much in style) make for a confusing listen, but it's still a rewarding one, especially for fans of early-70s pop songs.

Michael Dahlquist memorial tale: I listened to Libertine a bit ago, and it's my favorite Silkworm album. The song "A Tunnel" has this completely insane kick drum pattern. What drew my attention to the part's utter complexity and how comically hard it is to play, is the fact that somewhere along the way, Michael is recognizably a tiny bit off on one beat. It reminded me of the fact that he hit the rest of the part so perfectly, which is pretty amazing.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Yen + Janet Forever

One hot summer several years ago (is it six now? or seven?) Arum gave my a burned CD of Silkworm's Libertine. Prior to that, I didn't really know Silkworm. But after a few spins of that record, I was quickly converted to their sprawling, sloppy sound.

That CD eventually became scratched and unplayable, but just 2 days ago I got a replacement, and it's been too long since I listened to this record. What a treasure. Thanks Arum!!

So many great tracks, but Joel Phelps's YEN + JANET FOREVER might be my favorite. At six minutes, it's the longest track on the record, but I think it has the fewest lyrics:

I'm sorry that I left you there
Your pretty hands were picking sand out of your hair
And i'm sorry that they went so far
Didn't end up coming back

I'm sorry about the way that i ran
I'm sorry that i ended up the way that i am
And i'm sorry about the way that i lied
Didn't end up coming back

I'm sorry that it rained all night
Letters that your sisters wore were strung too tight
And i'm sorry that your world went grey
Didn't end up coming back

A loping, lazy beat and meandering guitars open the song, running through the chords, ebbing and flowing in intensity and then falling away to just Phelps's voice and Dahlquists's snare and Phelps intones his litany of regrets over a eerily sparse arrangement which builds up again for an instrumental interlude before the second verse begins.

The second verse has the same sparse arrangement, making Phelps's vocals the center of the song. Again the verse ends, adn the instruments build up, but this time more emphatically, the intensity ratcheting up and Andy Cohen's guitar notes scribble higher and higher and higher and higher and higher and then....Phelps's voice sneaks in among the din: "I'm sorry that it RAINED all night...."

When he sings "Rained" it's a blistering scream that manages to best the intensity that the instruments had created. It's also the crystal center of the song: a scream full of rage, regret and self-recrimination and cathartic release. Goosebumps.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I follow where my mind goes

Last night a friend mentioned that he was going to drive out to Naperville to see the Psychedelic Furs at the Naperville Ribfest. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Nevertheless, this brief conversation sent me directly to my old Psych Furs records, and god-motherfucking-damn are they good.

Their eponymous 1980 debut is amazing, with songs like "Sister Europe" and "Imitation of Christ" (with one of my favorite lyrics: "Jesus is a woman too") and deep cuts like "Wedding Song" and "We Love You."

In 1981, Talk Talk Talk gave us "Dumb Waiters," the original (and best) version of "Pretty In Pink," "She is Mine" and one of my all time favorite Psych Furs tracks, "All of This and Nothing."

In 1982, Forever Now yielded "President Gas," "Love My Way," and "No Easy Street."

1984's Mirror Moves opened with the fantastic "Ghost In You," scored a hit with "Heaven" and closed with "Highwire Days."

After that I kind of stopped listening, I guess, though in 1991, I did buy World Outside and vividly recall listening to it on the way to work at a job I hated on the day after I'd learned that my grandfather (in perfect health) had been killed in a car accident (not his fault). I sang along:

why wait?
there's a world outside
why wait?
for the reasons why
it ain't always what i want
it ain't always mine
why wait?
there's a world outside
you can't win
coming from the state you're in
you don't see
my reflections and my scenes

At 16, these were fucking potent lyrics. When I arrived at work at the job I hated (a ride operator at Kiddieland) I found my manager first thing and quit, telling him boldly (and in retrospect, somewhat absurdly) that there's a world outside, and I couldn't waste my time running rides and cleaning up puke.

I don't have that record anymore, but it will always occupy a special place in my heart.

So say I, so say us all: God Bless The Psychedelic Furs.

Monday, July 2, 2007

two recurring themes

are female songwriter-y records and recent listening.

Tying both together is a record that I unfortunately would not recommend, Milenasong's Can't Tape Forever. I bought this one first because it's on vinyl the hyped new one Seven Sisters I could only find on CD. I really don't have much to say about it, which probably says enough. It's tastefully understated but a bit short on character.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

As for female songwriter-y records

I thought the subject was uneven output. As for the female songsmiths...

My favorite obscure ones are all by women with very small output:
Karen Dalton, It's So Hard to Tell..., friend of Fred Neil and Bob Dylan
Erica Pomerance, You Used to Think, drugged out, meandering, theatric disaster (in a good way, I swear)
Linda Perhacs, Parallelograms, floaty and light, nice

Between the 3, I only know of one other record (Karen Dalton made a second)

Bryter Eayrlier

In response to Arum's last post: Talk Talk and the Gang of Four are the first two that come to mind. The Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, from a different era. (I know the early Talk Talk stuff does have its fans, including No Doubt).

And yes, despite one or two good songs ("Disamistade" comes to mind), that last de Andre record (Anime Salve) ain't no La Buona Nouvella.

On to recent listening: Chris McGregor. Rock fans will know Chris McGregor because he played piano on Bryter Layter (Joe Boyd's new book is helping to draw attention to this fact). He has a long history before and after that album, which the record that just left my turntable (Blue Notes for Johnny) emphasizes. McGregor spent the early 60s in South Africa in the group the Blue Notes. They were certainly odd for that country--McGregor was the group's sole caucasian member at a time of apartheid. While all 5 members had active jazz careers after their move to England, the ones with the broadest visibility were McGregor and trumpeter Mongezi Feza, who appeared on Robert Wyatt's classic Ruth is Stranger than Richard. The strangest record from the bunch was Dyani/Temiz/Feza's Music for Xaba, which I have a hard time describing. I quite enjoyed Blue Notes for Johnny for many reasons, including its timeless recording/production style from an era (the late 80s) where even experimental jazz tended to sound "modern" on record. It's a tribute to their recently deceased (as of 1987) bassist Johnny Dyani by the 3 surviving Blue Notes: McGregor, Dudu Pukwana (reeds), and Louis Moholo (percussion). For their ability to combine truly strange jazz influences with the energy of local/traditional South African music, the lengthy catalog of the members of the Blue Notes is too long to list and definitely worth pursuing with open ears.

A musical inquiry: the lady sings

Three artists I think I like but who have probably done great things and awful things.

Where do I start?

  • Buffy Sainte-Marie
  • Carly Simon
  • Joan Baez

If you live in Brooklyn, feel free to skip these artists and substitute the Fabrizio De Andre for my Leonard Cohen.

If you're in Canada and you speak up, I will do somersaults, or have the cats do them at my bidding.

listening to "Unsatisfied" by the Replacements, ironically, since I just posted about it a while back

Friday, June 29, 2007


Tuesday at workday's close, Arum was in a fantastic mood. He'd discovered something really useful to help him achieve a pie-in-the-sky work scheme he'd be knowing around for a while.

And what a great evening, so beautiful! He put down the windows and turned the stereo up, heads south back to urban wonderful, the music loud enough hear windows open, but not ungodly loud.

Fast forward 25 miles, and they were fast miles, Arum's off the express way and waiting to turn home, and he's happy as hell. There's a duct tape Buick convertible with lovely rap music thumping next to him. He smiles at the fellow, a white guy with a really bad haircut, and even worse acne, and this conversation occurs over the loud riff of "Walk On":

ACNE GUY leaning toward Arum's open window: "TURN THAT FUCKING SHIT DOWN!"

ARUM his impossibly good mood intact, leaning toward the window with the single message "huh?" conveyed by his tilted head: "BURN THE DUCKY PIT DOWN?"


ARUM with a look even more quizzical, friendly and dopey: "SHIZNIT THE PARTY CLOWN?"

ACNE GUY, starting to get it: "FUCK YOU"

ARUM, now staring forward and smiling so wide his mouth is opens, nods: "YEAH."

Green light.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Internet Radio Day of Silence

Wondering why Pandora, Rhapsody, my favorite, and other internt radio sources aren't playing any music today? It's to protest the absurd an grossly unbalanced new royalty scheme due to go into effect on July 15th.

It's the Internet Radio Day of Silence.

If you're a fan of internet radio, please take a minute and contact your congressperson about this issue.

Monday, June 25, 2007


After hearing a few songs by Joan as Police Woman, I went ahead and shelled out the $9.90 to buy her record in iTunes. There's certainly some good stuff, but I'm not sure about the record as a whole. I'll keep listening. Dig her here. And Here. And Here.

Also listening to Marianne Faithful's 2004 release Before the Poison on which seh collaborated with PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and John Brion. I heard this when it came out, but soemhow it didn't stick, but a friend just came back from a road trip singing its praises, so I'm going back for another listen, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lady in a Turban by the Cocaine Tree

This morning brought Van Dyke Parks Discover America to my turntable. He's been "hip" again lately after his collaboration with Joanna Newsom. People like to talk about his debut Song Cycle. It's a weird psychedelic/un-psychedelic meander through strangely structured and arranged songs, a bit like Tim Buckley with more ambitious orchestration and less remarkable vocals. Discover America, however, is far stranger. It has a comedic element that leaves it where comedic elements usually land... ignored. Layers of deadpan vocals, absurdist lyrics, and a steelband don't typically plead with fans to scream for more; they're more likely to alienate people. The crazy part is that such an infuriating and purposely misguided record includes huge string sections, many vocalists, and lots more--the ambition wasn't abandoned or even diminished just because the frustration knob was turned up to 11. It does include a cover of Little Feat's "Sailin' Shoes" and cameos by most of that band (plus Buell Neidlinger, Gloria Jones, and a guy named Gary Coleman).

Also Lou Reed Street Hassle. A friend once dated a woman who cried every time she listened to this record. I can't top that story.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

As a Man Grows Older

I've listened to Flying Saucer Attack pretty much non-stop since I first heard them in 1993 or '94. I stopped purposely listening to either Built to Spill or the Replacements about 10 years ago. Not sure what any of this says about me, or about aging. The one big change I have seen in my taste the last few years is increased openness for electronic music with beats. I didn't hear anything remotely like the Cog-Polmo Polpo 12" or Denzel & Huhn's Paraport in 1997--there wasn't much that resembled them to hear. Had I heard them, though, I know I wouldn't have had the patience to appreciate them. When I listened to both the other night, I enjoyed them. I could weigh in on strengths and weaknesses of each, but I'll leave it at the fact that both are weird and fascinating and worth a listen.

I'll weigh in for longer on things I've been familiar with for many years.

1. OMD, Dazzle Ships One of my favorite records in 1995. Its insane use of compression sounds weird to my ears today, but it gives a really distinct synthetic character that resembles little else. The pop songs are memorable, and the "futuristic" lyrics don't seem embarrassingly dated (an impressive feat). The interstitial material is more charming than distracting, and the whole thing flows quite well. It's no longer one of my favorite records, but I remain a committed fan. While everyone is probably familiar with later OMD records, their commercial phase didn't start until later in their career. This record and Architecture & Morality, which are my favorites, came after the "goth" singles ("Enola Gay", "Electricity") and before the later Top 40 style.

2. Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Durch Die Wuste. I've been a Cluster fan since 1995 or so, but this record is newer to me. It's not as consistent as the Cluster & Eno record from the same time, but is definitely similar in many ways, with Conny Plank recording both. There's a lot of compression here too, but they're more traditional sounding compressors, that bring the drums into the sound-world of the synthetic instruments without sounding as syntactically modern. I'm a huge fan of the floaty repetitions of the Cluster and related records of this era, and this one is a good example of why.

Friday, June 22, 2007

rambling on the aging process and why I listen to difficult music less, or acknowledging that I do

The last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about how tastes change over time. Part of it is that some people listen to more and more difficult music as time goes by, and I noticed since I got my iPod, I’m more likely to give artists I didn’t like I second shot. Those later Built to Spill records I didn’t think were anywhere near as good as There’s Nothing Wrong With Love? They’re still pretty good. The Replacements? I tolerated them at best from high school on, but now that I listen to them, well, the production isn’t to my taste but I like the attitude and the lyrics a lot more than I did when I was young. “Unsatisfied” and “Here Comes a Regular” are way better than I remember. Rocket from the Crypt? Still not my thing, oh well. The library and eMusic both encourage me to try stuff out I wouldn’t normally listen to.

It’s tied in part to my comment to Sorrow. I hadn’t thought of Flying Saucer Attack for a while. I remember playing them when I lived on Wood in Chicago and my Puerto Rican neighbors asking me, sincerely, if everything was alright. Kinda reminds me of the story (lore?) about The Swans having a practice space in a neighborhood and scaring the hell out of some Mexican family that eventually started sacrificing chickens and leaving them on their doorstep. I think Tiller told me that. I suppose I listen to my share of angry or loud or discordant music, but I do listen to it less. You get older, and Kris Kristofferson and Tom T Hall and Joan Baez make more sense. It’s chilling.

I suppose I’m not dead yet. If I can dig out an FSA CD, I’ll listen to it. And I’m tempted to buy a bunch of Okka Disc stuff, including some Brotzmann-related stuff, just because Bruno, who runs my favorite neighborhood bar and the jazz label Okka Disc, has such good taste, I’m curious to buy something and listen to it, imagining hearing it with his ears and mindset.

currently listening to Phoebe Snow

Thursday, June 21, 2007

responding to a comment in the main thread

I find the main thread easier to read than comments. Our gracious (flealess) host pointed out in one his unfamiliarity with Globe Unity, so I'll give a brief synopsis here. Globe Unity is a large group of predominantly European improvisers in a jazz-informed style making strange music. The line-up varies, but the central organizer is definitely pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. Their records are overwhelming from sheer mass of crazed players, and this early one from 1973 is definitely not an exception. Line-up includes notables like Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, Paul Rutherford, Peter Kowald, and Paul Lovens. It's as impressive as would be expected from such a marquee cast. It's one of the early releases on the German label FMP, which continues to specialize in this style.

Right now I'm listening to the new September Collective CD on Mosz, All the Birds were Anarchists. I'd been impressed by the little bit I'd heard by Barbara Morgenstern, who is 1/3 of the group, and what I read about the album sounded interesting. (plus it looks cool and has a great title). Unfortunately, on first listen, I'm underwhelmed. There are interesting things happening, but the looped rhythms are overly stylized and predictable, so that the other interesting parts get buried underneath. It's tasteful and very well-executed, but so far (and I just got it today, so it may be an overly hasty judgement), it's definitely not flooring me.

Cubemates are funny.

Okay, so this guy who sits in the cubical next to mine was telling me what an awesome record Jethro Tull's Broadsword & the Beast album is. He was waxing poetic about how unique of a
musical experience it is, and how fine a sound is. And this might be a perfect soundtrack to playing some WoW, but I'll leave that to Arum and his armies of darkness... Anyhow, I went to Amazon and listened to sound samples...(and you should too, because this is quite a "unique"

Freaking hilarious, this is the quintessential definition of "hobbit rock". Anyhow, it was recorded in 1983, so the production is very 80s, meaning the drum sounds are abyssmal...dreck...there's so much reverb, it's just awful, and inspiring for it's inspidness...

Now, you're probably wondering about this guy (I know I was). But he's actually pretty cool. First of all, we got on to the subject because he was lighting up when talking about Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love making the hair on his neck stand up and then extolling the virtues of Black Sabbath's first album... Secondly, I'll cut the guy some slack as he grew up in Korea. For a Korean engineer, he's alright, I'm going to turn him onto the Decemberists' The Tain...I think that should right his ship...and rattle his cage... (and thanks to Arum for turning me onto this epic song!).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

some recent listening, no clever title

The last two records that I've listened to and wanted to write about have left me a bit short on words. Flying Saucer Attack New Lands and Globe Unity 73: Live in Wuppertal both feel too obvious and canonical to say too much about. Both are very much of their eras. New Lands mid/late-90s lo-fi guitar ambience, Globe Unity early-70s huge European jazz-tinged improvisation freak-out. Acclaimed records on respected labels (though it's hard to equate Drag City with FMP's insanely consistent quality of releases). Both records define their eras and styles more than transcending them, but they're both as fine examples of their respective styles as could be hoped for. Both are dark/subversive and fantastically beautiful at the same time. And, in the end, they have really nothing in common except that I happened to listen to them over the last few days.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Punk Planet is no more, so says the Village Voice

Punk Planet is ceasing publication, says this Village Voice article. The second paragraph, for several sentences, kinda nails it for me. Start at "I don't know if I can in good conscience call Punk Planet a consistently great magazine...." read through how great it was in all its imperfection, because he kinda nails it, and stop before any praise for Jessica Hopper comes in, because, well, she bores me.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Retirement Community Overthrow

I'm listening to, and enjoying, the Project Perfect CD on Community Library. The recordings date from Portland, 2000-2002, and PM+ is some sort of reissue. Andy Brown from Jessamine and Fontanelle is one of the brains behind the thing, and it's my favorite record he's been involved with.

I'm having a really tough time describing this one. It sounds vaguely like Miles Davis Get Up with It but it's a lot sparser and even more lost/meandering. It's a lot less riff-centered than Tortoise and a lot mellower than This Heat. It's more confusing and less lucid (or structured) than any of these reference points. The closest comparison might be Spaceheads, but without the most overt dance grooves (though there are weird beats thrown in sometimes).

I've listened to PM+ a couple of times and have found it a bit impenetrable, definitely strange and fascinating.

Hooks 'n' Licks 'n' Cigarette Tricks

I'll be brief. I'm currently listening to Guns 'n' Roses's Appetite for Destuction and it is fucking awesome. I was in junior high when this album came out. I loved it then, and I love it now. It is probably one of the best commericial 'metal' albums ever. The hooks are great, the licks are smoking, and Axl is totally in charge. I remember listening to my cassette in the car a lot with my dad. His favorite track was Mr. Brownstone. He liked the syncopated beat, but neither of us realized that the song was about heroin. I remember once my dad got pulled over for speeding and Appettie was on the stereo, and when the cop pulled up he could hear it. He let my dad off with a warning, and suggested that he turn down the music. My dad pulled away and turned up the volume, feeling (I think) a little rebellious and cool listening to 'heavy metal' with his son.

It's funny to think of this album as heavy metal, because I listen to it now, and it's pure classic rock moves, which is part of why it has endured so well.

One of these days I'll wax lyrical about the LA Rock scene, and I'll draw a line connecting Appetite to Stone Temple Pilots's Tiny Music from the Vatican Giftshop, which is the standout record for the 90s from the LA rock scene, and another record that I love, despite being maligned by rock snobs.

And sometime, too, I'll put down a few thoughts on Scott Weiland and Axl and the Phenomenon of the Rock Star through the lens of Belgian theologian Edward Schillebeeckx's notion of the Saving Remnant.