Monday, March 26, 2007

"I would like to call certain people murderers."

I don't really have an album to talk about today. You should definitely own Meat Puppets II ("Aurora Borealis", "Teenager(S)") and Bjork's first record is incredible, but mainly you need, NEED to watch Dream Deceivers: The Story of James Vance & Judas Priest, the documentary on the Judas Priest suicide/subliminal messages trial back in 1986. It's not widely available, so this is probably the only chance you'll have to see it. Fans of Preacher's Arse-face, take extreme note. Shit is CRAZY. Major appreciation to WFMU's Beware of the Blog for being so fucking great.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I feel so glotious when I fly in my bonahr.
I'm gonna finish up "Essentials" week by talking about Men's Recovery Project as best as I can, and I guess specifically about The Very Best of Men's Recovery Project. The easiest way to sum them up would be to say that--with their synthesizers, stage theatrics, and songs that seemed to be about humans sung from the point of view of another species--they were to the hardcore scene of the mid-90s what Devo must have been to the rock (or punk or new wave) worlds of the late 70s/early 80s, and even recalled the kind of bizzaro material found on Devo's Hardcore collections. But I would argue that they they were possibly more surreal (and less structured) than even Devo was at their most uninhibited, and maybe even funnier. There's also something cheaper about MRP that's really endearing, and that feeling that they were genuinely in another fucking universe (just listen to "Bleeding Gash"!) all the time, and that nobody will ever be able to recreate what it must have been like to be in that universe. Their Very Best of... compilation is a perfect sampling of the aural absurdity Sam McPheeters, Neil Burke and their occassional guests had to offer, and draws from (probably?) everything they ever released, even the record I'm still not sure they really put out, 2001's Night Pirate LP. I'd also highly recommend The Golden Triumph of Naked Hostility, which compiles a bunch, maybe all of their 7"s (Normal Man, Botanica Mysteria, Immense Ovary Reject, et al.), if you can find it. Oh and Million Man March.

Men's Recovery Project - "Bleeding Gash"
Men's Recovery Project - "Get The Fuck Out of My Office"
Men's Recovery Project - "Avoid Pregnancy During Alcohol"
Men's Recovery Project - "Sexual Pervert"

Song of the day is Gonzales' "Gogol". Yeah, I've never heard of him either. Other song of the day is Ghostface's "Chunky".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The sun just went behind a cloud.
Although its maybe been surpassed in my mind by his brilliant 1971 concept-debut Yesterday's Wine, Willie Nelson's 2003 collection of assorted early/mid-'60s demo recordings, Crazy: The Demo Sessions, has a lock on my heart and stands as the starting point for my unstoppable love and appreciation for Shotgun Willie. I remember randomly catching an NPR review of the, at the time, recently-released demo set and being completely floored by the first thirty seconds of "Opportunity To Cry", which sounded to me like he'd recorded it live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere at some ungodly hour, at the absolute lowest point of his entire life. There's a lot of that feeling on this record, so if you're into the spare, the depressing, and the beautifully-written, you'll probably love this. There's also some great full-band, up-tempo stuff ("Things to Remember", "I Gotta Get Drunk"), lots of previously unissued versions of major classics, and some top-secret unlisted bonus songs at the end. I don't know if I can stress enough how badly you can't go wrong with this record. Seriously, we're talking, like, Harvey Milk essential.

Willie Nelson - "Opportunity To Cry"
Willie Nelson - "Darkness On The Face Of The Earth"
Willie Nelson - "I Gotta Get Drunk"
Willie Nelson - "Something To Think About"

Today's song of the day is The Expressions' "These Moments". Yesterday's other song of the day was Servotron's "Theme For An Ultimate and Inevitable Victory", in honor of Kurt Werts getting elected (AGAIN) as Village Trustee. Video of the day is one of the Professor Brothers episodes ("Late Date"), because it's fucking funny. An extreme thank you to Jessica Hopper for posting some of these on her blog.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Get it up and also get it on.
(sigh)....Harvey Milk's long out-of-print 1998 album The Pleaser was on my ultimate Christmas wishlist last year, a list that included mostly impossible, impratical gifts that I had no intention of receiving in my lifetime, and which I anticipated my children or my children's children might devote their whole lives to tracking down, a la the movie National Treasure. But lo and behold, here it is! It's a St. Patrick's Day Christmas miracle! On their last recorded effort before disbanding for several years, the Milk dudes trade their sludgey, white-spaceness ("musical chinese water torture to the uninitiated", as Henry H. Owings describes it) for some unbelievable KISS/Zeppelin/ZZ Top shit, albeit KISS/Zeppelin/ZZ Top shit that's obviously being played by Harvey Milk. It was also apparently done as an attempt to kill indie rock, which basically exalts this record to someplace higher than what my assessment of higher could be, someplace (like everything else they've done) beyond essential.

Harvey Milk - "Misery" (from The Pleaser)
Harvey Milk - "Shame"(from The Pleaser)
Harvey Milk - "Rock & Roll Party Tonite" (from The Pleaser)

Song of the day is Andy Kim's 1974 hit, "Rock Me Gently". I had a weird thing for the snippet of this song that was featured in an ad for a Hits of the '70s compilation that ran in the fall of 1996. It's got a certain Neil Diamond, good-time feel, and I can't say no to Neil Diamond good times.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"They're gonna turn the power off...on your very lives."
Alright! Harriet the Spy Week continues...and ends. Whoops. But we've got some doozies. First off: two tracks from their very out of print, one-sided, limited tour 7", issued just in time for their summer 1998 tour. I've seen copies of this record with funny things etched on the blank B side, but my copy is just blank. Also of note: these are the last recordings they ever did, and were "recorded with haste, May 1998 in our home". "Synthetic Synthesis" is kind of long and pretty depressing on all fronts but with great lines like "let's be pieces of shit together", while "So Called Reality" is also pretty depressing but with some outstanding guitar notes towards the end. Meanwhile, the Live 1998 split with the Party of Helicopters finds them raging through two songs at the More Than Music Carnival in Columbus, OH. Very lively and awesome versions of "The Forgettable Fire" and "When Will Gentlemen Rule the World?", and precisely the kind of stage banter I dream about. Why was this wasn't expanded into an entire album I will never fully understand.

Harriet the Spy - "Synthetic Synthesis" (from the Summer 1998 Tour 7")
Harriet the Spy - "So Called Reality" (from the Summer 1998 Tour 7")
Harriet the Spy - "The Forgettable Fire" (from the Live 1998 7")
Harriet the Spy - "When Will Gentlemen Rule the World?" (from the Live 1998 7")

Song of the day is the Nation of Ulysses' "N.O.U. Cooking With Gas!", from one of those Kill Rock Stars compilations, maybe the first one. Its a jazz jam similar to their cut on the Feer of Smell comp, or like those couple songs on Plays Pretty For Baby. Video of the day is THIS!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Peanut butter on my pants.
I'm going to pause the Harriet the Spy talk and talk real quick about the Kids Soundtrack (maybe this should've been talked about last week?) because I got thinking about it today. I know when I first saw that movie I had to rewind the first part over and over again just so I could hear that Deluxx Folk Implosion song, "Daddy Never Understood". Did anyone else do that? How fucking awesome is that song? When that mellotron part (or whatever it is) kicks in? Fuck. I don't even remember what else happened in that movie. Who cares? That song and that soundtrack (which also includes a bunch of "regular" Folk Implosion songs, Slint's absolute destroyer "Good Morning Captain", and a couple Daniel Johnston songs that are more tolerable 10+ years later) wound up providing the soundtrack (literally) for summer '96 in Newark, NY--which included long stretches of not having my parents around, Drivers Ed classes, and repeated viewings of 1991: The Year Punk Broke--and probably ranks in my top five favorite soundtracks of all time. If you have this, the Take a Look Inside... record, the Pole Position single, and the DFI 7", you're totally set for life as far as Folk Implosion stuff goes.

Deluxx Folk Implosion - "Daddy Never Understood" (from Kids: OST)
Folk Implosion - "Jenny's Theme" (from Kids: OST)
Folk Implosion - "Raise the Bells" (from Kids: OST)
Folk Implosion - "Summer's Over" (from the Pole Position single)

Song of the day is Ennio Morricone's "Una Pistola Per Ringo". Video of the day is Prince KILLING SHIT at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame a few years ago (go to the 3:30 mark).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Who axed you anyway?
There's a chance this could turn into "Harriet the Spy Week" if Tyler will allow me to beat up his free time a little. But even if it doesn't let's just take this opportunity to talk about the Harriet side of their split 7" with Fat Day anyway. So here we have a couple more vinyl-only jams that didn't make the cut on Anthology of Selected Recordings, though probably because they weren't released until after that collection came out (either that, or they were as hated/mis-placed by the band as their impeccably named demo tapes). While not their strongest showing production-wise, "When Will Gentlemen Rule the World?" and "How We Got On Kill Rock Stars" are still worth a damn for their unrivaled guitar work, propulsive/sloppy/intricate punk rock, and brilliant off-hand blunt hatred ("I'll say anything to never have to talk to you")--all Harriet the Spy trademarks. The version of "How We Got On..." from the Troubleman Mix Tape is better, but its nice to hear alternate versions sometimes (ie. "Cum Stomache" from Unfuckwithable vs. "Cum Stomache" from Anthology...; everybody wins!).

Harriet the Spy - "When Will Gentlemen Rule the World?" (from the Fat Day/Harriet the Spy 7")
Harriet the Spy - "How We Got On Kill Rock Stars" (from the Fat Day/Harriet the Spy 7")
Harriet the Spy - "How We Got On Kill Rock Stars" (from the Troubleman Mix Tape comp.)

Song of the day is Elvis Costello and the Attractions' "Beyond Belief", off Imperial Bedroom. Full credit goes to Chad Clark for piquing my interest. Video of the day is Boston's "More Than A Feeling", in memory of Brad Delp (RIP). Only in the last year have I realized how much I geniunely love Boston. Don't even try to fuck with them.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pick me a tune, sing it like a black man.
I'm not sure how it compares to the rest of his catalog, but Neil Diamond's 1970 album Taproot Manuscript is fucking bizarre, sounding like standard Diamond fare on side A, then shifting abruptly to an African song-cycle for children on side B. Of course since its Neil Diamond, all the songs are great (its especially hard to go wrong with songs like "Cracklin' Rosie" and "Free Life") and I have to respect his willingness to experiment, but that doesn't prevent "Childsong" and "I Am the Lion" from being some of the most sweetly hilarious shit ever, nor does it prevent songs like "Soolaimon", "Missa", or...fuck it, the entirety of side B from sounding like some proto-Lion King Soundtrack pageantry (albeit wayyyyyy better; '70s cheese slays '90s cheese with a vengeance). Full credit goes to Melanie Wood for introducing me to this forgotten gem. All tracks taken from her family's original vinyl copy of the album, too, so enjoy the snaps and pops.

Neil Diamond - "Childsong" (from Taproot Manuscript)
Neil Diamond - "I Am the Lion" (from Taproot Manuscript)
Neil Diamond - "Soolaimon" (from Taproot Manuscript)
Neil Diamond - "Cracklin' Rosie" (from Taproot Manuscript)

Song of the day is The Grumpies' "No One Knows Why", rounding out "Kids Week". Should you choose to listen to this song, you may want to imagine a band made up of kittens who also solve mysteries on the side. That's generally how I used to approach The Grumpies. Other song of the day is Fat Day's "Quintland". Videos of the week were a couple of VBS joints--the Soft Focus interview with Chan Marshall and their latest installment of Sublime Frequencies (seriously check this shit out).

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We've got the fever down at Hooper's.
Although I don't have any specific memories of boogie-ing down to it as a kid, I like to think I seriously cut a rug to 1978's Sesame Street Fever--the amazing Robin Gibb-assisted disco concept album featuring most of the major players (Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, The Count, and someone named Marty?). I say "concept album" because apparently its about disco fever sweeping through and infecting the residents of Sesame Street and causing them to "go down to the disco to...boogie", as Grover puts it in "Has Anybody Seen My Dog?". Sounds good to me! It really does sound good, too, particularly the tracks on side B, which include Robin Gibb's absolute stunner (not kidding) "Trash", Cookie Monster and the Girls' deeply funky, celebratory "C is for Cookie", and Marty and Grover's gut-wrenching tale of love and loss that's sure to make you move your feet, "Has Anybody Seen My Dog?". Not sure if this is still in print, so enjoy!

Cookie Monster and the Girls - "C is for Cookie" (from Sesame Street Fever)
Marty and Grover - "Has Anybody Seen My Dog?" (from Sesame Street Fever)
Robin Gibb - "Trash" (from Sesame Street Fever)

Song of the day is either Daniel Johnston's take on "I Saw Her Standing There" or The Rolling Stones' "Emotional Rescue", which is admittedly a much better video. Video of the day is Delfin Quishpe's "The Twin Towers" (lyrics here), no question.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thanks a hundred, cap'm.
I think the theme for this week is going to be "Music that could reasonably be considered 'kids music' that I also really like", and since I've had "The Wizard's Baker Rock Opera" songs stuck in my head for most of the past week, let's talk about Home Movies. For those who don't know, Home Movies was one of the few consistently funny (maybe because it wasn't 15 straight minutes of non-sequitors every week?) shows the Adult Swim folks ever aired, and featured some of the best songs I've ever heard in a cartoon, not counting the music of the original Scooby-Doo show, which I can program in my head on a loop almost on command. All of the songs--including incidental pieces and opening/end credit themes--were written and performed by main writer and voicer Brendon Small (who now does that show Metalocalypse (sp?) which I still haven't checked out), which is pretty insane considering the range of material involved (guitar shredding, folky strumming, showtunes, etc.). Check out the Season 4 DVD collection for both the 52-song Bonus CD featuring nearly every piece of music composed for the show (except "Freaky Out-y", the song that drives even Prurient fans off the deep end) and the episode entitled "Bye Bye, Greasy".

Brendon Small and Jon Benjamin - "The Compliments Song"
Brendon Small - "Duane's Big Solo"
Brendon Small, Jon Benjamin, Melissa Galsky, Janine Ditullio, and Todd Barry - "Psycho-Delicate (Medley)"
Brendon Small - "Brendon's Camera"

Song of the day for last night's drive in upstate New York was Claudine Longet's "Snow", if not Wrangler Brutes' "White Out". I think today's song is "Dirty Fingernails", from the non-suck version of Modest Mouse. Video of the day is the majorly kid-friendly video for Kanye West's "Throw Some D's On That Bitch" or whatever its called.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

There's a light on in the house.
Holy crap, I took a major vacation from this page for a bit, making Dr. Dog's "The Way the Lazy Do" the official song of the past week, I suppose. But I don't know if that's the most appropriate pick since I spent a good chunk of last week putting together a mix tape for a baker who was going on vacation (that sounds like code for something, but that's literally what I did), so it wasn't like I was doing nothing. Plus the real best Dr. Dog song of the week--and there were a lot to choose from--was "From", a previously unreleased track recorded live as part of a Daytrotter Session in mid-February. The rest of the songs can be found here, but "From" is the real killer, showing that they can homage the shit out of Neil Young just like they can the Beatles, and do it beautifully without sounding like they're even trying. Also, their write-ups on each song are fantastic.

And speaking of mix tapes, I read the interview with Rob Sheffield on Fluxblog (its a three-parter, you have to scroll down a bit), and though I had planned on never ever ever reading his book just based on the title, I kind of want to now. If you're prone to obsessing over music, have a history with cassette tapes, and have had crushes, you'll probably want to read it, too. The interview is a really good read, and I particularly liked the discussions of old zines and favorite album-combo tapes (I can't think of another way to describe them, its fucking early). I think my favorite of all time was my tape with Sonic Youth's Sister on side A and Gravediggaz' 6 Feet Deep on side B. Oh and when they talk about that Dump song, you should check it out because its pretty good.

Anywho, (ir)regular content should resume tomorrow, the beginning of a really long week.