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.

More on covers...

Johnny Cash went out in style. His fertile pairing in those last years with Rick Rubin tapped a rich vein of soulful performance, recorded in a way in tune with the moment, and yet that I think will prove timeless.

Johnny Cash is a commanding performer and a deep, historied , dark personality, a known symbol in an of himself in American culture.

Whether he or his management put together this pairing of Rubin and Cash, it’ll preserve his legacy, and it was an extended parting shot at extending his songbook, and cementing his name across generations in popular culture.

But I feel Rubin’s fingerprints all over these song choices, or at least the ones we’re looking at, and while the old man wasn’t exactly propped up and asked to sing songs he didn’t know at all, sometimes, well, it feels kinda close to that. That the commanding performer Cash was, and the personality he established across decades, it carried him gloriously doing those Danzig, Nice Cave, Depeche Mode, Soundgarden, Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, NiN, U2 songs. And while I wouldn’t change it, it doesn’t seem like the same achievement that creating the persona was. I want to hear the Folsom prison record over and over again still, and I’m dying to see his TV show if it ever comes out on DVD.

Lately I’ve been listening to the Rubin-produced Neil Diamond CD, and honestly there’s more original material on that one disc that I like and see merit in than in the whole American catalog of Cash.

So I agree, I See a Darkness, a great song and a great cover, among many covers he did then, chosen for him or by him. I like the original and listen to it often honestly, and in the context of an amazing record Will Oldham conceived. Cash actually gave me more insight into the lyrics with his delivery and made me revisit it. But it was already a song I saw carried a lot of meaning.

I listen with wonder to inventive covers like Joel Phelps (whose vocal style admittedly could be gated and trimmed about 10% of the time) and his piano version of Guns of Brixton by the Clash, as he pulls that song into a while new context and light. Or M Ward doing his sensually acoustic version of Bowie’s Let’s Dance. Man, those are glorious reinventions. I could listen to those over and over again.

Cash didn’t really make art with covers that way for me in those last days. He added good songs to his songbook of competency, and a couple times his authority and delivery really brought new life and fresh eyes to a song for me, like with U2’s “One”, and all this work late in life was probably the best he could do at the time, and it’s often enjoyable as hell to listen to, and it’s a dignified parting shot-- but not the meat of the matter of Johnny Cash, and it’s not the kind of art that a weird, cool, perceptive treatment in a cover can be.

That would be my two copper.


currently listening to "Save Me a Saturday Night" by Neil Diamond

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Careys Bay Young Drinkers Club

It's cliched and a bit too easy to praise the early-90s output of cacophonous New Zealand eccentrics the Dead C. It's also more than deserved. Tonight I listened to 1992's Clyma Est Mort. From the Fall-derived cover art on, it's probably their least careful, most tossed-off album. It's also truly remarkable. At times it resembles the Sightings, Growing, and (for a brief minute) the Tower Recordings. Even having heard all of those bands for years now, Clyma Est Mort still impresses me, perhaps more than any of them... only it's not a mix-up of those bands by methodical record-collector fans. It predates them all, from 1992! Its purposeful and well-considered (but still chaotic) diversity reminds me a bit of Meat Puppets II, though the two records are obviously quite different. To continue rambling about a band who certainly still receive their due feels like an unnecessary exercise, so I'll stop here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

SNL, Season 1

As some of you may already know, Saturday Night Live, season 1 is out on DVD. I watched the first episode last night, hosted by a young George Carlin. Back then, the show had more music and comedy than sketches, it was very interesting to see. One of the guests was Billy Preston, singing "Nothing from Nothing". They also had Janice Ian singing 2 songs, one was "Seventeen". I've heard that song before, but I never really 'listened' to it, until now. It was quite moving. I don't know much about her, except that she has a lot of albums out there :)

Janis Ian (1967) #29 US
For All the Seasons of Your Mind (1968) #179 US
The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink (1968)
Who Really Cares (1969)
Present Company (1971)
Stars (1974) #83 US, #63 Japan (1976 release)
Between the Lines (1975) #1 US, #22 Japan
Aftertones (1976) #12 US, #1 Japan
Miracle Row (1977) #45 US, #26 Japan
Best of Janis Ian (collection) 1977 #5 Japan
Janis Ian II (1978) #120 US, #79 Japan
Remember (1978) #72 Japan
Night Rains (1979)
Restless Eyes (1981) #156 US
Uncle Wonderful (1983)
At Seventeen 1990
Up 'Til Now (1992)
Breaking Silence (1993)
Simon Renshaw Presents: Janis Ian Shares Your Pain (1994)
Revenge (1995)
Live on the Test 1976 (1995)
Hunger (1997)
Unreleased 1: Mary's Eyes (1998)
The Bottom Line Encore collection (Live 1980) (1999)
Unreleased 2: Take No Prisoners (2000)
god & the fbi (2000)
Unreleased 3: Society's Child (2001)
Lost Cuts 1 (2002)
Janis Ian Live: Working Without a Net (2003)
Souvenirs: Best of Janis Ian 1972-1981 (collection) (2004)
Billie's Bones (2004)
Folk is the New Black (2006)

And then..

..I looked at the links on the side of the blog and saw that Arum has already linked to Sounds Opinion, which is probably the same exact on that I was talking about. So basically, my post was reiterating what you already know, but LA style. *le sigh*

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I will run to tie your shoelaces.

So, I'm going through this time in my life where I really can't get enough of public radio. Sometimes it's the BBC, sometimes NPR. Sometimes, I get to hear theater from a traveling show or from this theater in Los Angeles, or recommendations of books I'll always add to my B.I.N.T.R. (Books I Need to Read; clever, I know) even though I would put money on it that I'd never actually get around to reading. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. (Probably.) There's this show on the station that I listen to called Sounds Opinion. Often times, I don't care much for it (but still listen to, for some reason), but sometimes it's amazing. Tonight, the Decemberists were on. I've never cared one way or another for them-- they weren't my favorite but I wouldn't complain if someone put it on. The show brought it to my attention that they've got much more to them than their albums. The live songs that they performed were awesome. Accordion, melodica, banjo... it's just more impressive when it's live, I guess. There's a great Brian Eno cover on the show, also. I'm not generally one for live recordings, but I enjoy this. Anywho, if you want to listen to it, you can do so here. It's an archive of all of the previous shows as well-- there is some good stuff in there if you look through it.


Last night, in Azeroth (or Outland, for those of us who were there) we had a great music conversation. First of all, Titanarum (whom I'm just going to call Arum from now on) can rap. I don't know if you knew that-- but he really can. I felt like the spirit of Rev. Run and DMC were here with me, through the powers of Arum. If you see him on a regular basis, (or even not regular, just.. when you see him) you should ask him to rap for you. I mean, that's gonna be my first request if I ever head that direction. There was also some conversation about Raffi. Yes, the children's singer. Yes, I know he writes songs about sandwiches and whales and sometimes god, but he's a damn good songwriter. I don't actively listen to him or anything, but you can't deny his ability to write a catchy song. What else did we talk about? Hm. It matters not, but is marginally interesting. Mostly the part about Arum being a total rapper. Gang-stuh.

Maybe I'll post something a bit more... interesting later. I have a feeling everyone else who posts here already knows far more about music than I do (which is incredibly intimidating). On the positive side, I'll learn a lot, right? Hahaha.

I just put on Mwng, by the Super Furry Animals. (To end the entry with the current playlist, of course.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

I see a darkness

YES! I agree Johnny Cash really nailed it! The gravitas that he brings to this song
is majestic. Not that the Oldham version doesn't have its is good, but, like
Cash's reading of Cat Steven's "Father & Son" (a song slightly marred by the backing
vocals of Fiona Apple), it just packs a lot of emotional weight. As does "Hurt", and
coupled with the video, could be one of the saddest things I've ever seen. The Cash
museum closed, and the gold record with smashed glass frame accenting the words...
definitely reflects upon a lifetime of work...

It's like when I play my 1965 Gibson acoustic, a guitar I love dearly...and realize
that it won't be mine always...someday, somebody else will own it, not because I'll
sell it, but because I won't be here anymore, and I'm hoping it will go to somebody
who loves it and treasures it and I wonder what it's tenure here on earth is, something
I wonder more about than my own time on this planet. Johnny's, end of career song
selections really bring home our finiteness...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cash in Spain, pt. 2, or, Go Where The Music Leads You

I was going to put this in the newly enabled "Comments" section, but it kept getting longer and longer....
Nice! Cash's 'Spiritual' really is an amazing performance, and definitely tops Spain / Haden's.

Interesting that you should mention that. Bonnie Prince Billy's I SEE A DARKNESS (the album) and Spain's THE BLUE MOODS OF SPAIN are closely linked in my mind, because they were both staples on the stereo that blizzardy winter on the floor with the first girlfriend I mention in my Cash post.

I went back and listened to that record after I read your post, and I still like it, though it's definitely best suited to "mood listening." (Amazing, isn't it, how music can evoke memories so completely.)

Josh Haden is the son of Charlie Haden, who, for those of you who don't know, is one of the MONSTERS of jazz bass. Also, Charlie Haden's daughter, Petra, used to play with The Decemberists. But I digress. My point is that Charlie Haden also covers "Spiritual" on a record he did with Pat Metheny called BEYOND THE MISSOURI SKY.

Also covered on that record are two Ennio Morricone pieces from Cinema Paradiso. Morricone is one of my favorite contemporary composers, and Cinema Paradiso is one of my all time favorite movies. The final montage of kisses is breathtaking. There are two versions of the film, the original European release, and the US release, which the American distributor cut down by about an hour. Contrary to what is normally the case, the 'more commerically viable' US version is actually the better film, as it more effectively captures the Romantic (capital R) soul of the film. Morricone's soundtrack, by the way, is absolutely essential to this film, and is a shining example of how important the right music is for a film. Please, if you've never seen this film, go rent or buy it. It's packaged with both the US and the Europena version. Watch both, but watch the US version first.

UPDATE: apropos of nothing...THIS is amazing, disturbing, hilarious, depressing, and unfortunately not surprising in the least.

Cash in Spain

I'm not a huge Spain fan, but I'd like to include Johnny Cash's cover of "Spiritual" in this discussion, because I'm a big fan of Midnight Choir's version of the song, which sounds closer to Cash's than to Josh Haden's original.

I have almost nothing in iTunes, so digging up long tracks would be painfully manual. The Psyche is my favorite Revolutionary Ensemble album and just a big favorite all around.

And I did find Internet in the desert, at least for now.

Recent listening of note, from the other night, John Martyn One World. Bless the Weather and Solid Air from the early 70s are the obvious classics, sort of a smoky, jazzy twist to Richard Thompson. One World, from the late 70s, makes far less sense. The production is weirdly polished and slick and of its era (recorded by Phill Brown, shortly before his work on Roxy Music's Manifesto), but it manages to suit the songs. The strange drum machines (I think that's what they are) and other hard-to-identify sounds are incongruous, but somehow also make sense in the end. And the songwriting is strong and interesting, even if the lyrics sometimes seem a bit tossed-off. The crazy 7 minutes of guitar across the pond that ends side 1 (sorry, no record in front of me here) is really pretty special. Not the first place I'd start for John Martyn assuming I was looking for his canonical "best" work, but an engaging and very distinctive record with great moments.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Perhaps size does matter

Interesting concept.

*consults iTunes*

My shortest tracks, granted most of these aren't songs:

:04 Aural Brutality by The Moment on This Is The Moment [best possible name EVER for a 4 second song]
:04 13 13 by Clinic on Internal Wrangler
:04 Underture by Mercury Rev on Deserter's Songs
:06 Gravy by The Monkees on Head
:06 Static Intro by The Misfits on their box set [really, I didn't need more than :04 of this]
:11 Xmas Riff by T Rex on Tanx
:14 Load Bank by Unitone Hi-Fi on Wickedness Increased
:14 Three Car Jam by The Minutemen on Double Nickels

My longest tracks:

54:12 Baltimore by the jazz band Test, which I think is a whole set in Baltimore
32:13 25 - Tab by Monster Magnet
30:04 This Dust Makes That Mud by the Liars on They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top
27:37 Carnage Visors by The Cure
27:01 Bitches Brew by Miles Davis
26:23 Invasion by Revolutionary Ensemble on The Psyche
21:35 So That I May Come Back by Town and Country off their self-titled release

I skipped a couple Miles Davis numbers in there.

currently listening to The The's Soul Mining

You know how much I love you

Just listened to the podcast of last week's Sound Opinions which was dedicated to cover songs that are better than the original. Johnny Cash came up when a listener proposed that his version of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" was superior. Needless to say, when the subject of Cash covering contemporary "alternative" artists came up, there were many accolades for his version of Nine Inch Nails's "Hurt." But for my money, the Johnny Cash cover that puts both those to shame is his version of "I See a Darkness" by Bonnie Prince Billy.

Oldham's version is great. No doubt about it. He approaches the song with melancholy and it seems to be sung to himself in a kind of interior monologue, despite the fact that the lyrics are addressed to "You." And oddly, the chorus of "i see a darkness...." seems somehow triumphant. Like so many Oldham performances, there's a mysterious and otherworldly quality to it. I remember when I first heard that record, lying on the floor with a former girlfriend on a cold and snowy winter afternoon. In that scene, at that time in my life, lying on the floor, the darkness was mine, and I knew the girl couldn't save me, in part because I didn't love her.

When I first heard Cash's version, it was many years later, in a claustrophibic attic apartment lying in bed on a hot summer night with a different girlfriend. This girlfriend had had a bizarre and difficult childhood, she struggled with depression, but she had a fragile, magic center to her that was beautiful and rare. I loved her. Cash perfoms the song not with melancholy, but with resignation.. the weight of his years, his sins, and his regrets infuse every word. He sings it to us, not for us, and when he sings the chorus, he projects pure dread at the darkness and a terrifying uncertainty at whether love can save him from the darkness. In that attic apartment, it was my girlfriend who saw the darkness, and my love couldn't save her.

Not only does Cash's version best Oldham's, it's probably the best song on any of the American recordings. It's an amazing song. Period. As I said, Oldham's version is really good, but it's Cash's world-weary and wizened delivery that best captures the strange cocktail of dread, despair, and hope, and that is the terrible magic of the song. I get goosebumbs just thinking about it.

To this listener, Cash's version is the definitive version. Man, I miss him.

Go to Hype Machine and do a little compare and contrast. Here...I'll even make the link for you.


*Jumps up and down, to let everyone know she is here*

*Saunters away, thinking of the homeless guy I saw walking down the street, who sounded just like Tom Waits, if Tom Waits talked to himself in a violent fashion*

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Waitin' for the band to return from the show

MX-80 Sound have been a favorite of mine since I first heard them at age 20. Out of the Tunnel remains a huge personal favorite, and I buy every absurd release down to Rich Stim's pre-MX-80 art project Chinaboise (CD reissue on Gulcher). Last year, they released their first CD since 1997 or something, called We're an American Band, and it turned up in my CD player this morning. With their usual blend of behemototic guitar playing and utterly absurd/absurdist lyrics, it's a cool, fascinating listen. Where in their early years, they both sounded like rock music and made rock music at the same time (the same could probably be said of Pavement circa "Cut Your Hair"), MX-80 now solely sound like rock music. Huge guitar riffs, verses and choruses, primitive drumming are all there. In the end, though, it somehow isn't rock music, just a deformed post-structuralist summation or an artist's rendering. Yes, it does include a rather poetic deconstruction of the Grand Funk Railroad hit from which the album derives its title.

Now listening, amiina, "Seoul".

I'll be traveling the next few days and probably not posting to this blog. I'll catch you on the other side. Neither rubber sharks nor Feargal Sharkey will be involved, I reckon.

The Short & the Long of it...

Well, an interesting notion, to sort your songs by duration, which I sometimes do when I need a short track to fill up a mix CD, but I never really thought of which were my best, and, I don't use itunes, the program I use happens to sort things out by directory and I have many directories filled with songs on my 3 I actually fired up itunes (which I do have, but don't use) just to do this task...let's hope it sucks in all of my files...

The first thing I noticed was a preponderance of tracks from the American Hardcore soundtrack...great doc, and some great tunes... This is Boston Not LA - The Freeze clocking in at a whole 20 seconds...and Milwaukee legends die Kreuzen's "Think for Me" a whopping 1:37, which compared to some of the other tracks here, makes this like prog rock or something...

Beyond that I will offer up these curios...

Jimmy Gilmer - Sugar Shack 1:58 (perfect malt-shop bubblegum pop!)
Bob Dylan - Suze (the cough song) (instumental track ending with Dylan coughing) 1:58
Hank Williams - Honky Tonk Blues (an acoustic version) 1:59
Lisa Ekdahl - Flyg vilda Fagel (not what you think...Swedish folk singer) 2:00
Four King Cousins - God Only Knows 2:04 (one these gals was on My Three Sons!)

But most of these songs are longer, I must have some cool songs under 1 minute, I just can't
seem to get them into itunes at the moment...

At the other end of the spectrum, I've got some interesting ones as well...(and as well as some
of those Johanna Newsom Ys tracks)

Ella Fitzgerald - Basella 10:28
Louis Armstrong - Let's Do It 11:45
Pink Floyd - Interstellar Overdrive 9:43
Bob Dylan - Idiot Wind 8:52
Van Morrison - You Don't Pull No Punches, But You Don't Push The River 8:50

These are truely some epic tunes!

Anyhow, that's the short and the long of it...

Speaking of XTC...

Actually, the post about XTC was a few down the list; I lack all experience in posting, sequentially or otherwise! Still, seeing the word "XTC" (and, yes, those quotation marks are indeed necessary!) made me think of the following exchange from an interview with Andy Partridge in the new issue of MAGNET:

the interviewer asked if he had any stories like "the Led Zepelin shark story."

"The nearest I could get was my rubber-shark story. That was my notorious way of not being unfaithful when I was on tour."

"Come again?"

"It was the best blow job I ever had. I bought it at a Woolworth's in Melbourne, Australia, on tour. I saw this soft, rubber shark about a foot long and thought,'Wow, if I stuck my dick in that, it'd feel really good. I could be faithful and not tempted by all these women now that I'm married.' So I thought, 'I'm gonna buy this rubber shark and fuck it.' I bought the shark, and it felt great. You'd get some suction going, a vacuum effect, just terrific. I used to wedge it under a cushion or a chair and fuck this rubber shark. My suitcase was full at the time, so I had to buy an extra box to take it around. I remember going through New Zealand with it and the customs agent asking me, 'What's in the case, mate?' I said, 'Well, it's a rubber shark.' 'Wise guy,' then he'd open it up and it'd be a rubber shark. It was great."

"Did it have a name, this shark?"

"Sharky. [laughs] Although after a while that stopped, because then I'd think of Feargal Sharkey. The last thing - literally - you want to be thinking of when you're blowing your wad is the lead singer of the Undertones."

The boggles!

The Short List

Sometimes I'll listen to my iTunes library alphabetically by song, or sometimes alphabetically by artist, but my favorite is to sort songs by duration. In that spirit, here is a list of the 5 best songs under 1 minute, and the best 5 songs over 10 minutes.

The Short List (in no particular order)
1. Hit (Guided by Voices / Alien Lanes) :22
2. Stop (Pink Floyd / The Wall) :30
3. Tahuti, Splendid Scribe (Impossible Shapes /TUM) :51
4. My Mummy's Dead (John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band) :59
5. Denver (Willie Nelson / Red Headed Stranger) :55

The Long List (also in no particular order)
1. Only Skin (Joanna Newsom / Ys) 16:53
2. I Dream a Highway (Gillian Welch / Time, The Revelator) 14:39
3. Desolation Row (Bob Dylan / Highway 61 Revisited) 11:21
4. Spiders Kidsmoke (Wilco / A Ghost is Born) 10:48
5. Pigs (Pink Floyd / Animals) 11:28

These lists naturally lead me to the question: What are the best GBV soungs under 1 minute, and what are the best Bob Dylan songs over 10 minutes.

I'm curious what other people's iTunes sorting yields. Blog away, people.

[Crossposted at Bob Loblaw's Law Blog]

Randomizer, I am the

Titanarum: yes...I had been unconvinced of Detholz! greatness before witnessing their live show. It was truly transcendent rock and roll. Frankly, I'm a fan of the live act over their records.

Sites to link to? How about Hype Machine:

I love these MP3 aggregators. It's a neat way to see what's piercing the consciousness of the music bloggers of the world, and it's a fantastic way to listen to songs by folks you might not know. A bunch of new Dungen showed up right before their new album dropped last month, which was a great way to get excited about Dungen again (Ta Det Lugnt rocked my world last summer).

It was on Hype Machine that I first got to hear some of the new Wilco record, Sky Blue Sky. Not sure where people stand on Wilco, but I'll be goddamned if Sky Blue Sky is not fucking great. I can be listening and hea The Band, The Allman Bros. Zeppelin (ca. Phys Graf), and not a little Robert Fripp in Nels Cline's guitar playing. It's been a pleasure settling in with this record. I was at first unconvinced by Nels Cline's guitar wizardry and blistering fast technique, but the more I hear it, the more I like it. He's very tasteful and musical with his playing, and even when there's a lot of notes coming fast and furious, they all make wonderful sense.

Most recent album spins:
Joni Mitchell: Don Juan's Reckless Daughter
Midlake: The Trials of Van Occupanther
Stephen Malkmus: Face the Truth
Bitter Tears: The Ginning Corpse who Went to Town
Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

The first time I really kissed a girl....

....Seventeen Seconds by The Cure was on the stereo. My iTunes is playing it now, the exact song.

Her name was Brenda and she was a cheerleader at Rufus King, and had Gordon Gano's math book (the singer from the Violent Femmes). She was rather pretty, and she was way smart, but we didn't have too many common interests. And her lips I thought were the texture of worms. Ick! I'm glad all ladies don't suffer from worm-lip ick.

~Arum, at lunch
listening to "In Your House"

Silence the Memories

I saw Those X-Cleavers. I even went to high school dances where bands covered Silence the Critics. I even went to high school dances where Bon Ton Society played (a very new wave local ban). I even bought the Bon Ton Society twelve inch, Korg synth and all. I shudder to think.

currently listening to:
the mother and son feline team of Scamp and Edgar eat breakfast, noisefully

Monday, June 4, 2007

Silencing the Critics?

A reissue of two early-80s albums by a band in a small midwestern town, on a label known for reissues by SRC, Captain Beefheart, and Emitt Rhodes... it's amazing I hadn't bought it til now.

I knew about Those X-Cleavers from their appearance on the Milwaukee compilation The Great Lost Brew Wave. "Silence the Critics" is definitely not my favorite song, but I've periodically found it stuck in my head. As was inevitable, I grew curious to hear more, especially for $4 including shipping. The CD reissue on One Way includes two albums from 1982 and '84. The production sounds like a cheap imitation of commercial new wave, and some of the ska-tinged moves have aged awkwardly. At the same time, the songwriting is catchy and strong with memorable moments. It's an odd record that definitely sounds a bit dated, but it's also a fascinating and enjoyable view into an era long since passed. Not on par with the Dancing Cigarettes reissue on Gulcher (which is stylistically the closest thing that comes to mind) or the Human Switchboard LP (vaguely similar), but a fun listen with both a saccharine happiness and an odd dark side.

Another list: Music sites and resources worthwhile

Something great on the web worth linking to regarding music?

Submit your idea and an explanation why it's of measurable worth, and I'll link to it in the side bar.

I'm going with Aurgasm, a music blog I like, and Dusty Groove, a store a favor.


All You Biznitches: (I actually listen to you):

JetAsprin: Dungen was the band in Rushmor that you recommended, that was on display next to Dinosaur Jr.

SFSorrow: I was listening to that Renderers album just the other day. I think you, I, and the band have it on iTunes and almost no one else.

Choco: I'm finding Psychic TV harder to listen to as I get older. I put on Coil the other day and wondered if I could tolerate it if 15+ years of experience with it hadn't accustomed me.

Thee Swansiest of Swans: Detholz sounded good on the page, but I wasn't convinced I needed it in my collection yet. Loud music often takes a live performance to convince me.


In the begining here, it'll be a while before we all have a feel for who each other is, what their style and interests are, even in some cases what their moniker represents.

So, I propose this, that I make a list of what city or state or country you are from. Email me if I may include you thusly. And you will Represent! And there will be something tangible and real to keep in mind with your handle.

~Arum, representing Bay View, WI
listening to some horrible radio station in a cafe

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Explode Together

Today's oddest listening, of a record that seems to exist on-line only in a negative All Music review, was XTC's Go +. It's a 5 song 12" of dub-influenced "remixes" of tracks from their then-new album Go 2. It initially came as a bonus EP with the album itself (don't blame it for today's remix trend), but was then released on its own. For a record that had 15,000 copies given away for free, I'd expect it to turn up more often. Some of the songs just sound like lazy reconstructions of XTC songs, most notably a sped-up instrumental of "Battery Brides" called "A Dictionary of Modern Marriage". Others, like opener "Dance with Me, Germany", are harder to identify. I find it more consistent than the Mr. Partridge Take Away LP that appears alongside it on the CD reissue called Explode Together. It's also vaguely reminiscent of Basement 5's In Dub, where Martin Hannett similarly destroys tracks from their 1965-1980 LP. Despite its on-line mauling and general invisibility, I'd definitely recommend a listen to Go + for its odd alternation of interesting novelty and genuinely inspired weirdness. The 45-RPM 12" format is a nice one, and the record is cut well for a promo aside.

Rendered obscure, not quite forgotten

No list here, but a tale from last night's listening.

I've been a Renderers fan for years, inspired by 1998's amazing A Dream of the Sea. To describe it as a perverse cross of Crazy Horse and Sonic Youth sounds like an offensive cliche, but 9 years later, the description still seems vaguely apt. Their earlier records never had quite the same energy or attitude--they often felt a bit mopey and lethargic.

Since they hadn't released anything in 8 years, I was surprised to find a (then) new CD last year. (turns out it was recorded in 2003 and took a few years til release.) The core of the group is husband and wife team Brian & Maryrose Crook. The recent CD, Ghosts of our Vegas Lives, is credited as Maryrose Crook with the Renderers. She writes and sings everything this time, but Brian still turns up on inspired guitar, and Robbie Yates (Dead C, ex-Verlaines) repeats his drum role from A Dream of the Sea. On first listen months back, it left me feeling a bit flat. It's laid-back and lacks the frantic energy that stood out on A Dream of the Sea, so it ended up reminding me of their earlier, overly-restrained albums.

Last night, it resonated with me a lot more. Strangely, the higher-energy songs felt a bit mopey again, but the really slow, fragile ones struck a chord that was hard to miss. It wasn't restraint--the energy of the songs was really defined by their tempo and pacing, not withheld by them. Maryrose Crook's vocals can still bring tears and her songwriting still stands out. Despite the unremarkable recording (a lo-fi sound more rough than charming) and 50 minute running time that's longer than the album needs to be, it's still a pretty strong record.

Nerd-o fact found in Web search: Will Oldham covered the title track "Dream of the Sea" on some record of his.

Soundtrack for this post, in a totally unrelated vein, Wolter Weirbos, "A Demonstration", from X-Caliber, his solo trombone CD from 1996 or so on ICP.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

With the program

Sorry, I will pay more attention. Here's my list. It concerns dangerously cheap vinyl.

The Edgar Winter Group - They Only Come Out At Night
(Dude: "Frankenstein")
John Fahey & His Orchestra - Old Fashioned Love
The Firesign Theater - Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers
Einsturzende Neubauten - Fuenf Auf Der Nach Oben Offenen Richterskala
Various - The Concert For Bangladesh
(3 LPs: $1: all the Ravi Shankar I might need: totally unplayed)
Psychic TV - Themes 2
("For optimum effect use a blue light bulb to illuminate your surroundings whilst listening to this piece" - Yeah, that must be why I haven't gotten to this)

All were "bargain" purchases, no more than 4 dollars, but I've played each maybe once (or between that and not at all). I think I've had all of these a minimum of four years.

Victory Song

Hi. I've gotta talk to Titanarum and see what the idea is here, but already I've been invited in without particular instruction, so...
I was just out record shopping at Amoeba and they had Ween's "Pure Guava" album playing. When that came out, I was working at record stores and one night my co-worker Laura had to help a guy looking for music to soundtrack his video production. The guy told her he needed something "triumphant, inspirational" (I think his footage might have involved a high school track team), and she blanked on absolutely everything she'd ever heard except the delirious joy of "Push The Little Daisies." Filmmaker guy wound up going with Whitney Houston, of course.
I was never much of a Ween fan, but when I win at the Olympics, I know what song the orchestra has gotta play.

Currently listening: Blonde Redhead "23"

most recent listening

Omitted that part, probably only fair to include by what appears to be established convention in these parts: Can, "You Doo Right"

some lists

3+2 = 5, a total of 2 lists from yesterday...
3 actual encounters mentioned by a friend in the same lunch conversation: Lou Reed, Joel Coen, Paul Simon (and I thought my life was strange)
2 records that I bought yesterday because I found them for cheap: Badfinger No Dice, Archie Shepp Steam

Thanks for inviting me to join, Titanarum--it's good to be here.

(and yes, one Prettty Things record inspired my not-so-anonymous moniker here)

Friday, June 1, 2007

Five Songs Gardening Robbed Me Of

Alright, list time, heregoes:

I was outside working in the yard and accidentally left the music on inside. I was deadheading tulips, mostly, and cursing little maple trees out. JetAspirin knows my yard. There's a lot of tulips to take down after they bloom.

So, the miracle of modern technology, also known on this computer as iTunes, allows me to see what I missed.

Here are 5 songs I would've enjoyed hearing that technology wanted me to hear but I resisted for the touch of the earth and the green glow of chlorophyll.

American Music ~ Violent Femmes

Really I only like the first album, the Bsides to Gone Daddy Gone, and half-to-most of Hallowed Ground, but I've come to really like this song. Poke fun of me if you will.

Propadada ~ The Ex & Tom Cora
I had to go back and figure out which song this was, because I don't know titles except for State of Shock from this era. Funny thing how CDs make 'track 2' and 'track 4' what you knew of a song, and now song titles are back in the consciousness. Tom Cora and the Ex, a perfect pairing. They complemented each other and grew in each other's company.

Candy Says ~ Thalia Zedek
I prefer You're a Big Girl Now on this EP, but I like the whole thing. VU is one of the rare bands I prefer to listen to covers of than the actual band. Heresy, I know! She's My Best Friend by Wedding Present is perfect, for instance.

You Have Cum In Your Hair And Your Dick Is Hanging Out ~ Palace
Good song, startling title. Anyone know the set up of the joke that the title is the punchline to? Or can you make something up?

Party With Me Punker ~ Minutemen
"Party with me punkers, in a condo, in an air raid shelter... with marijuana, with a clenched fist!" At least that's how I always heard the lyrics. Damn the internet if my memory can now be proved wrong.
now listening to Sitting There Standing ~The Chocolate Watch Band

Lists, lists, lists... Make a list!

I'm such a fan of lists. When it comes to music, that's one of my favorite things about iTunes. I've made lists of songs to rake magnolia petals to (yes, they drop with such density and have such weight, you need to rake them), songs from 1981-83, improbably good cover songs, songs to have sex to, songs to try to get someone to have sex to, songs by artists that have almost nothing in common but somehow work together, songs to work to, songs to drive to, driving songs (which are different -- driving songs have a lot of repetition).

Anyway. I start the social aspect of this by inviting participants to make a list or five.

I think we can even keep lists on the side of this weblog if we wish. "We have the technology today" or so I would say if I were a particular not-fair-to-call-indie-rock guitarist. That's your quiz of the day, what's the lyric from?

listening to:
Tom T Hall
Spokane Motel Blues

Currently sitting on my desk...

My desk is flooded with stuff...including the Horrors "Strange House", perfect
goth-y send up to early Birthday Party, Chrome, sort of mining the territory
of Six Finger Satellite...quite rocking. Dungen, Swedish folk-psych rock, Tio Bitar...
Dolly Parton's Jolene (came out '73)...and somebody ripped me the entire soundtrack
to Cowboy Bebop...which is suprisingly really am I listening to any of it?
Not at the moment...must concentrate on work...1's, 0's...


Last night my band had the good fortune to open for the Detholz! at the Metro, here in Chicago. Nothing could have prepared me for the electicity and excitement of their set. They were absolutley fantastic. It was one of those all-too-rare moments of musical transcendance...I was completely ecstatic...out of my another world as DETHOLZ! tore through their set.

When it was over and I was headed home, I felt like I was living the Lou Reed life was saved by Rock and Roll. ROCK AND ROLL!!!! Yeah. It was alright.

Next time you see Detholz! coming to your town, do not miss it. Go and stand right at the front of the stage and drink it in.

More nothingness

Ah, nothing to say... yet.

currently listening to: Big Black's Bazooka Joe