Thursday, February 22, 2007

Consolation in the stardust of a bong.
Silver Jews' Tanglewood Numbers won a whole bunch of awards in my head this past year--including best lay-out, best album-opening lines ("Where's the paper bag that holds the liquor?/Just in case I feel the need to puke"), best random lines that popped in my head while I was working ("Andre was a young black Santa Claus", "His sister was like the heat coming off the back of an old TV", "Get a load of this fucking view, its the best in the west!"), etc., and it made my best of 2006 list even though it came out in 2005--that's how goddamn good it is! I could really go on and on about it, but I already did. Here's the review I wrote like a year ago for the forthcoming debut issue of The Chuds Present:

"I always figured a band called 'Silver Jews' would be terrible but then I saw that thing in Vice with those pictures of Dave Berman and Harmony Korine harassing an anti-immigration rally with a sign that said 'You are the bottom-feeders of American life so we're going to replace you with cool Mexicans' and 'Go back to Pussy-stan' and I had to re-assess things. So yeah, I'm a newbie when it comes to Berman and his Silver Jews stuff, and I have zero insight into how this compares to the rest of his shit. Has he always done low-key, later-Pavement-sounding stuff, but with a plain-spoken Southern baritone guy doing vocals instead of a smart-alecky nerdnik? Because this shit is good. It actually reminds me of being in Newark around NewarkFest time (beginning of June) for some reason, which might seem incredibly insulting if you think about the dread of seeing former high school classmates you had specific plans to avoid at all costs forever, who will undoubtedly recognize you and try to catch up with you. I guess I'm just picturing the nice weather and the wealth of human absurdity that a three-day carnival/celebration in a small rural town in upstate New York can bring out of the slowly rotting woodwork, in the most explicit, undiluted ways possible. It can be hilarious and off-putting and maybe even deeply depressing, usually at the same time or in very quick succession. All of which roughly translates to a great time, and this album is the soundtrack I'd prefer to have blasting as I'm laughing and wincing my way through it."

Silver Jews - "Punks in the Beerlight"
Silver Jews - "Sometimes a Pony Gets Depressed"
Silver Jews - "Sleeping is the Only Love"

Song of the day is Sunn 0))) and Boris and Jesse Sykes' "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)" even though its kind of cheesy. Runner-up is Owls' "We Are the Owls" even though its not the best Owls song.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'll show you my endzone dance.
I try to champion Bastro as much as I can, even though I feel like a tease championing a band whose records aren't readily available, apart from the Antlers: Live 1991 record (which is more of a Gastr Del Sol practice tape) and random eBay listings. The situation was remedied briefly back in early 2005, when Drag City re-issued their two proper full-lengths--1989's Diablo Guapo and 1990's Sing the Troubled Beast--as a one-disc set, but even that cd fell out of print by the end of that year, leaving only the tiniest of windows to easily grab a copy of the best collision of the Minutemen, mid-'80s DC hardcore, and abrasive Big Black-ish stuff you will ever hear. Its seriously ridiculous, if not criminal, that these two records--not to mention their remarkable debut, the Rode Hard and Put Up Wet EP--aren't widely available, and I hope Drag City or somebody, anybody! decides to re-remedy the situation. Sing the Troubled Beast feels a little more anthemic, if still schizo, like a Revolution Summer spent locked in a sweltering basement; Diablo Guapo alternates between outright noise frenzy and goofyness, and gets more incredible on every listen. You should just start scouring the interweb for copies of these jams, you won't be disappointed ( can't find them, I mean). Oh and its also worth pointing out that the dudes behind all this were David Grubbs, John McEntire, and Clark Johnson (but not this Clark Johnson, as far as I know), who have all done many, many other great things.

Bastro - "Demons Begone" (from Sing the Troubled Beast)
Bastro - "Noise/Star" (from Sing the Troubled Beast)
Bastro - "Engaging the Reverend" (from Diablo Guapo)
Bastro - "Decent Skin" (from Diablo Guapo)

Song of the day is No Trend's "Human Garbage" and I want to send it out to Tom Fields, Linda Warner, and everyone who lives in my neighborhood.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Honey, he's back from the grave.
This past weekend was a super church-y one for me--my niece was baptised, plunked down into the lukewarm holy waters and anointed with weirdo oils by a man who sings poorly, and there was much rejoicing--so its kind of fitting that I've been rockin' Loose Fur's Born Again in the USA on repeat (almost as fitting as hearing "Spanish Bombs" on the way to see Pan's Labyrinth). For those who don't know, Loose Fur is the side band featuring Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Glenn Kotche, as well as Wilco producer and super genius, Jim O'Rourke. Their first record, 2003's Loose Fur, was great except the songs went on FOR FUCKING EVER and felt half-finished. But on Born Again..., they tighten shit up (except on "Wreckroom", but only on the second half, and the first half is fucking brilliant) and make everything super catchy, and wind up sounding like a punk rock version of Wilco that also sounds like Faraquet. I'm pretty sure everyone slept on this album except for Tyler and myself, but don't let that sour you. Its awesome on every level, the Tomoo Gokita artwork level in particular. Oh and they have a video.

Loose Fur - "The Ruling Class" (from Born Again in the USA)
Loose Fur - "Stupid As The Sun" (from Born Again in the USA)
Loose Fur - "Wreckroom" (from Born Again in the USA)

Song of the day is "The Partisan", from Leonard Cohen's Songs From a Room. Not sure if there's a specific reason this reminds me of my mom when I was a little kid, but it definitely does. Its probably just the parts sung in French.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

You're thinking about equilibrium.
I've been itchin' to put some rare-ish stuff up here lately, but since my somewhat hard-to-find shit is all on vinyl and since I'm pretty ignorant on how to transfer vinyl to Tyler's computer, all that stuff is gonna have to wait. HOWEVER, I remembered I have a copy of Horses' (maybe) lone release--a 4-song cd-r they sold at one of their few shows, with Q and Not U and some annoying "dance party band"/garbage at North Six about a year and half ago. Horses featured 3 ex-Black Eyes dudes (non-shrieking vocalist Hugh McElroy and the two guys who played drums, whose names I can't of them's named Dan, I think?) and a guitarist (not sure about her name either) from DC-based mathematicians Et At It, and managed to last about a year or so before packing it in and moving on to other things (much of which can be investigated at the Ruffian Records site). They weren't too far off from what Black Eyes was for the three years they were together--a no-wavey, heavy-on-the-rhythm post-punk band that always sounded fresh and galvanizing, while nearly all of their contemporaries sounded either incredibly forced and mediocre or simply awful. But where Black Eyes seemed to trade almost entirely in desperate reactions to weird social/political/sexual interactions, Horses felt a little more subdued, even kind of spooky (low, chanted vocals; darker tones; lots of talk about death) while still throwing in the kind of polyrhythms and bass grooves you might have found on Black Eyes (but none of the free jazz skronk you might have found on Cough, unfortunately). Their cd-r sounds like it was 4-tracked or possibly even layed down on a boombox--there's literally no other information about the recording or the band aside from what's written on the cover (see image above)--so prepare yourself for some definite rawness. They played so many more songs at that show, though, and I wish they'd had a chance to lay them all down and put it out. Shit was tight.

Horses - "Track 1" (from 4567)
Horses - "Track 2" (from 4567)
Horses - "Track 3" (from 4567)
Horses - "Track 4" (from 4567)

I know I'd said that yesterday's song of the day would be "Is It Me You Really Love", but it was actually The B-52's "Whammy Kiss", if only for the part that goes "He cannot stand to go into work/when he needs some whammy love". That's pretty romantic, right? Today's song is the not-so-romantic "Grounds For Divorce" from the forthcoming Big Business jam, which is pretty much full of songs of the day. Site of the day is a pretty thorough look at You Can't Do That On Television.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Guess what?
Nostalgia sucks.

That being said, NOFX's Fuck the Kids 7" instantly takes me back to any and all events that may have happened between summer 1997 and summer 1998. This record may have been even more of a soundtrack to senior-year me than what I thought was the prevailing soundtrack (Minor Threat's Complete Discography), but at the very least (and perhaps most importantly) it was the vinyl face that launched a thousand Chuds ships--or to put it another way, it was the record that hastened my entry into the world of people who play music, via a band called The Chuds. And obviously I'm talking the original, Newark-based Chuds, not this monstrosity. I haven't paid much attention to NOFX since So Long and Thanks For All The Shoes, so I can't really say if they've gone downhill. They're still at the top of my "best of the bands I've been obsessed with at various points in my life" list, though, just based on Fuck the Kids (and Ribbed, White Trash..., The Longest Line, Punk in Drublic, Heavy Petting Zoo, So Long..., and the song "Six Pack Girls") alone.

NOFX - "Reagan Sucks"
NOFX - "My Name's Bud"
NOFX - "Please Stop Fucking My Mom"

Song of the day is The Damned's "Fish", from Damned Damned Damned. Song of the day for this past Saturday is Madvillain's "Great Day". Song for the approaching Valentine's Day Massacre (aka me working in a sub-zero blizzard) is Black Velvet's "Is It Me You Really Love" courtesy of Truth and Soul on myspace.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I will break my arm.
I've been rockin' David Bowie's The Man Who Sold The World (aka Bowie's take on the Sabbath-y prog thing) a lot lately, and its pretty sweet. I mean it feels like he's playing with other people's ideas and hasn't quite found his voice yet (this is '72, long floppy hair time), and the lyrics are kind of cheesy, so its hard for me to really love the shit out of it. But I do like the shit out of it. In particular, I've been liking the shit out of "All the Madmen" (even with the flute solo...shit, maybe because of the flute solo) and "She Shook Me Cold"'s last couple minutes. Holy FUCK. Mick Ronson is the shit:

David Bowie - "All the Madmen" (from The Man Who Sold The World)
David Bowie - "She Shook Me Cold" (from The Man Who Sold The World)

Song of the day for yesterday was Ida's "Shrug", from their 2000 release, Will You Find Me. Song of the day for today is The Jesus Lizard's "Monkey Trick", from the almighty Goat. Fuck all that Young Widows bullshit. Runner-up song of the day is Electric Light Orchestra's "Daybreaker". Live performance of the day was Carlos F. singing "Hakuna Matata"(sp?). Thing-said-by-my-mom of the day was "Pomegranates--those are like love machines, aren't they?" Phone call of the day is "Eddie Money".

Monday, February 05, 2007

Try to be right in whatever I say.
Speaking of Talking Heads again--before the release of their Once in a Lifetime best-of box set (and its counterpart--the shorter, best of the best-of The Best of Talking Heads) in 2003, there was 1992's two-disc Sand In the Vaseline collection. And while it lacks the beautiful packaging, genius video program, and about a third of the tracklist of the Lifetime set, Vaseline does include one mad crucial song, "I Want To Live", not found on any other Talking Heads collection (or album, to the best of my knowledge). Working with the same line-up (Byrne, Weymouth, Frantz only, I think) and production set-up as the probably more well-known, brilliant pre-77 /demo track, "Sugar On My Tongue", "I Want To Live" completes what I imagine in my head to be one of the best singles never actually released from the pretty much flawless New York punk scene of the mid-'70s. If they'd never released anything other than these two tracks, they would still be one of my favorite bands of all time (although I guess I'm glad they went on to make a shitload more great songs and basically every great video ever.):

Talking Heads - "Sugar On My Tongue" (from Sand in the Vaseline)
Talking Heads - "I Want To Live" (from Sand in the Vaseline)

Song of the day is Harriet the Spy's "This Music Festival Sucks", in honor of the little album nobody wanted. Feel free to replace the words "music festival" with "motherfucking deep freeze I can feel coming in through my not-so-good bedroom windows". I need some plastic sheets to seal them up. Videos of the day are Dr. Dog's "My Old Ways" and even more Nation of Ulysses. Oh and VBS is up and running!!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Smokin' bones in the staircase.
For the past couple weeks I've listened to almost nothing but the first of El Michels Affair's Shaolin Series 45s (where they do incredible full-band instrumental covers of Wu-Tang classics), which features their brilliant re-interpretation of the gold-standard classic "C.R.E.A.M." on the A-side, and a jaw-dropping take on Raekwon the Chef's "Glaciers of Ice" on side B. Anything Wu-related is an easy sell for me (they're basically the starting point for my love of hip-hop, or re-starting point, I should say), but this shit is seriously GOLDEN. Thank you, Truth and Soul. El Michels Affair is what every soul/funk band should sound like--like they're straight out of the late '60s/early '70s and wicked wicked dusty. I think they're my new favorite band, or they're at least giving Soiled Mattress a run for their money. Its a tough call. But these jams are more guaranteed day-brighteners, life-exciterers, etc.-- so don't dawdle:

El Michels Affair - "C.R.E.A.M." (from The Shaolin Series Vol. 1)
El Michels Affair - "Glaciers of Ice" (from The Shaolin Series Vol. 1)
El Michels Affair - "Behind the Blue Curtains" (from Sounding Out the City)

Song of the day is the songs I was just talking about. Video of the day is Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless", which I guess I never saw because I fell asleep the one time I tried to watch the DVD from the Once in a Lifetime set. And speaking of Talking Heads and that video and sleep--I had a dream last night that I was visiting my friend Andrew at work, and I was telling him about the video, and he was pissed because he wanted to see it but he didn't get out of work for a few more hours. And I was like, "You'll just have to wait." and it sounded EXACTLY like the part in "Stereo" (go to the :37 mark), and we both thought it was pretty strange.

PS -- You have until 12:35 PST on February 4th to snag your copy of Harriet the Spy's Anthology of Selected Recordings. What's that? You don't need it? Ummm, did you read the song titles?