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.