Thursday, May 24, 2007

Coach tought me to sing, he couldn't teach me to love.
The initial plan for my junior prom was this: My friend Andrew and I--the only two dateless wonders within our crews and sub-crews of friends, as I recall, and maybe less than chuffed about it--would dress up and tag along with a few of those romantic winners for the usual pre-prom dinner and limo riding, and then drop the loving couples at the prom itself, hijack (not literally) the limo, and watch crappy soft porn videos while everyone else made treasured memories inside the Newark High School gymnasium. Out of context that sounds kind of creepy and pervy, but classic Skinemax films were pretty de rigeur for junior year hang-out sessions at our friend Joanna's house, and I can attest that they were watched strictly for laughs, devoid of any and all steaminess and/or mid-90s eroticism. Of course they were also generally watched in big groups, which might be why the idea of just us two dudes watching soft porn quickly lost its appeal--it would have run contrary to the spirit in which those films needed to be watched and wound up some weird conceptual joke that neither of us really felt like making (not to mention the two films selected for us were an episode of Red Shoe Diaries starring Ally Sheedy and a movie that's probably still too hardcore for me now, called Auto Erotica). So we dropped the facade and hit up the prom proper. I danced awkwardly with a girl I wasn't into, goofed around, checked out everyone all gussied up, and had a pretty good time. The night wore on, and a bunch of us bailed on the gym, went to the now-defunct Perkins, and wound up staying at our friend Laura's house, where I fell asleep watching strange movies on the USA Network.

The following day my parents let me drive them up to Borders in Henrietta (I had a driving test coming up), and I forced them to listen to Devo's Greatest Hits all the way there. My dad got a kick out of "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA", but I think they were happy once they were able to get out of the car. I didn't have my P&C job yet, so I don't know how I had any money, but I managed to pick up Pavement's Brighten the Corners--kind of the End Hits and Steady Diet of their oeuvre, all in one--and it became my ultimate record of the summer (much to the chagrin of both my mom, who got freaked out when I played the creepy part in "Transport Is Arranged" while driving through a cemetary on the way back from dinner at our local Country Club, and Jason Wetmore who, on a separate occassion, said "I don't like this!" from the back of my overcrowded van once "Date With Ikea" started), at least until I purchased Minor Threat's Complete Discography from that same Borders a couple months later and got set off on an entirely different trajectory. Still, Corners resonated with me so much that even while I was devolving into a cheesy Fat Wreck Chords mess and trading in all of my Sonic Youth cds, I was still listening to it (and whatever other Pavement records I could get my hands on) exhaustively, exalting it to the top of all mental lists, littering mix tapes with "Stereo" and "Shady Lane" and possibly "Old To Begin", and accidentally memorizing every word of the only record I know all the words to.

Pavement - "Shady Lane/J vs. S"
Pavement - "Transport Is Arranged"
Pavement - "Old To Begin"
Devo - "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA"

So much more to talk about! Unreleased Nation of Ulysses demos, depressing answering machine tape (submitted by Jason Yawn Factory) at Chunklet. No Age video at here. Songs of the day, like "Into The Hollow" (or anything from Era Vulgaris) and "Stuck On An Island". Songs of the Memorial Day (aka Take Back the Center Street Day) weekend, like some Favela Funk--1, 2. RIP Charles Nelson Reilly, long live Match Game.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

You get me in a crowd of high class people and then you act real rude to me.
Songs of the week for...I don't know, like the last 10 days. And begin:

The Isley Brothers - "Voyage to Atlantis" (from Go For Your Guns)
Bill Withers - "Use Me" (from Still Bill)
The first time I heard this Isley Brothers song was the other day on my way home from work, and I wound up hearing it again as soon as I got in my car the following morning. This was probably just a coincidence (and/or a wake-up call for Sirius channel 53 to add more songs to their library), but what if it wasn't?? Anyway, it's a good song with sweet guitar work. Plus I don't know what's more awesome--the idea that the song might actually be about going on a voyage to Atlantis sung from the point-of-view of a former inhabitant, or the idea of "going on a voyage to Atlantis" as a euphemism for fucking. Meanwhile, Bill Withers shrugs off a dysfunctional relationship because he's the nicest guy on earth. I was a little creeped out that the guy from Gym Class Heroes had "Use Me" AND an Isley Brothers song on some list he did for Nylon Guy, but we do both have a Geneva connection (just as creepy - ed.).

UGK featuring Outkast - "International Players' Anthem" (from UGK Underground Kings)
I finally heard this song in its entirety yesterday after weeks of catching the last 5 seconds of it, and shit is good. Not great, but good. Andre 3000's verse at the beginning is decent, Big Boi's verse at the end is fucking fantastic, and the beat (I think courtesy of Three Six Mafia) is beautiful.

Monks - "Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice", "Love Came Tumblin' Down" (from Black Monk Time)
Black Monk Time gets better every year, and makes me both proud of myself for being inexplicably obsessed with finding a copy when I was in high school and mad at myself for not picking up everything else in the short-lived Infinite Zero catalog. For those not up on the Monks story, check here. These are just random picks that have been stuck in my head lately, especially the guitar solo in "Boys Are Boys...". Also, something about "Love Came Tumblin' Down" (the repetitive-ness? the chunky-ness?) makes me think of Shellac.

Galaxie 500 - "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste" (from Peel Sessions)
Songs like this are the reason I don't flinch or recoil or barf when people use the term "indie rock". In fact, this--a loud, amazing rock version of a Jonathan Richman song--is almost note for note what comes to mind when that term gets thrown around, even though I get the feeling this isn't what people are talking about anymore.

Jacques Dutronc - "L'Espace d'Une Fille", "On Nous Cache Tout, On Nous Dit Rien" (from Les Playboys)
My obsession with Dutronc continues! Like the Monks picks, these are sort of random selections (this time from the first disc of a 3-disc mid-to-late-60s era Dutronc set) that I can't get out of my head. The only bummer about "On Nous Cache Tout..." is that it's mixed differently here than it is on the original Les Play Boys EP, and the awesome drum fills at the end of every line in each verse section--the ones that totally make the whole song!--got brought way down. Sacre bleu (sp?)!

The Beatles - "You Never Give Me Your Money" (from Abbey Road)
Harvey Milk - "War" (from Special Wishes)
I had a dream the other night that I picked up the cd single for "War", which included two unreleased live tracks and came with a bonus action figure of a tree that had a face and two branches/arms--sort of what trees always look like whenever they come to life. "You Never Give Me Your Money" will be on repeat in my mind probably for the rest of my life. I don't know why I paired these up.

Elliott Smith - "Whatever (Folk Tune in C)", "New Disaster", "Either/Or", "Pretty Mary K (other version)" (from New Moon)
I had a hard time figuring out which songs to spotlight, but I finally narrowed it down to a quarter of New Moon's second disc. Every song on both discs is a no-brainer classic, though, and from my favorite era of his ('94-'97), when everything was, for the most part, super raw. But yeah, these songs are all from the 2nd disc, and, with the exception of "Whatever...", are all Either/Or outtakes that leave most people's shining moments in the fucking dust.

Gary Wilson - "Soul Travel", "Rhythm In Your Eyes", "New York Surf" (from Forgotten Lovers)
Every Gary Wilson song starts out sounding like the best song I've ever heard and then usually veers into bizarre territory or just kind of hangs out and winds up sounding like the most pretty good song I've ever heard. But some of them are the best songs I've ever heard, and here's three of them. Forgotten Lovers may even be better than Mary Had Brown Hair, but not better than the cover of Mary Had Brown Hair.

Song that's also on the list but not listed is No Age's "Great Faces". Video is Amps For Christ on Practice Space. Also, I'm taking up a weekly post routine for at least the summer, if not the remainder of eternity, and I might throw in a podcast somewhere down the line, which will probably be called "Rappin' Ronnie Reagan Tape".

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I probably forgot more than you'll ever need.
Objectively I don't know how In Cold Blood stacks up against the 100,000 million Johnny Thunders albums, bootlegs, collections, or bootleg album collections since it's the only Thunders record I've listened to in its entirety (I've also listened to, I think, five minutes of Hurt Me). But I do know that my dub of Nick MacLaren's dub (which only included the first five, in-studio recordings), squeezed onto the end of a 120-minute tape immediately following Black Flag, went missing sometime after being listened to on a chartered bus to Washington, DC in the fall of 1997, sending a small part of me into a severe panic. If there was a way for me to have filed a missing persons report for a tape, I would have. But eventually I realized there was this thing called the internet and I managed to track down a copy of it--released on cd by Dojo Limited in '95, but originally released on LP by New Rose in '83, I think--thus ressurecting another of my high school-era favorites from the high school-era graveyard (props to finding my Wookiee tape a couple weeks ago, as well!), sort of. So yeah, the hazy haze of nostalgia is probably making some non-essential, crappy New York punk/drunk rock outtakes sound much more revolutionary than they really are, but I'm going to stand by these songs (the first five songs, anyway; the live set tacked on the end will have to fend for itself). They're catchy and sleazy and, in the case of "Diary of a Lover", terrible, but they're SINCERELY catchy, sleazy, and terrible, and that goes a long way. Plus the version of "Green Onions" is dirty as hell and kind of sacrilegious, and all the studio tracks were produced dutifully by sometime Stones producer Jimmy Miller.

Johnny Thunders - "In Cold Blood" (from In Cold Blood)
Johnny Thunders - "Green Onions" (from In Cold Blood)
Johnny Thunders - "Diary of a Lover" (from In Cold Blood)

Brighten the Corners song of the day is "Blue Hawaiian", runner-up is "Type Slowly". In On The Kill Taker demos song of the day is "23 Beats Off", but keep it hush-hush. Video of the day is...yikes, Black Oak Arkansas' "Hot & Nasty" (or absolutely anything listed in this WFMU post). Remember when VH1 Classic used to play videos?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

D as in Denison, E as in Enison.
While I'm waiting for my Denison Kimball Trio 7" to arrive on my doorstep, I figured I'd talk a little about Duane Denison and his work with The Jesus Lizard. I'm not really a historian on Denison, though (I'm not familiar with the works of Firewater or Tomahawk), and I'm only a novice Lizard dude. But I can still say that his guitar work is fucking great--adding so much terrifying color, just-slightly-off-from-each-other layered guitar lines that give you that squirmy/mind split open feeling (like Joey Santiago does with his one note bend-ups, but in greater numbers), and a sense of restraint and tastefulness in all the right places ON TOP of his and the rest of the band's great pummelling math blues attacks. As much as the band wouldn't be what it is/was without David Yow's raving derelict vocals and should rightfully be remembered for just that, it's Denison's experimental, almost jazz approach to the dirty rock game that really does it for me--the moments when his guitar alone seems to blow open the entire song ("If You Had Lips", "Boilermaker"), or when his guitar without a doubt, definitely does blow open the entire song ("Monkey Trick").

The Jesus Lizard - "If You Had Lips" (from Head)
The Jesus Lizard - "Pastoral" (from Head)
The Jesus Lizard - "Boilermaker" (from Liar)
The Jesus Lizard - "Monkey Trick" (from Goat)

Mad decent songs are The Free Design's "Bubbles" and Pavement's "Zurich is Stained". The former was in my head all weekend, the latter all day today. Videos are Them and the Huskers on TV (not at the same time).