Sunday, October 21, 2012

There's a lion in my pocket.
I'm reeling from whiskey and black tie fundraiser house party crashing and Afro-Licious not winning the BRAWL event last night, but here are some things:

Still haven't totally processed last weekend's incredible Tyler-Leah wedding, but Leah walking down the aisle to Dave Pajo's version of "Hybrid Moments" was something else. You can hear romance in the Misfits because it's there. 100 or so people were standing, trying to keep it together and beaming while Pajo sang "If you're gonna scream, scream with me...". Tyler and Leah's marriage vows knocked me out completely -- Tyler referencing the oncoming super nova death of the universe, Leah talking about her heart and the real world. Two of the absolute greats of all time, and I got to officiate it. Not bad.

Pajo - "Hybrid Moments"

I also kept thinking about starting the service with "Dearly beloved..." with organs playing in the background, and then kept thinking about the Purple One. "Let's Go Crazy" started out the dance portion of the night, and I was standing at the bar when one of the bartenders heard the opening spiel and pointed upwards at the speakers (the heavens?) and said "OH SNAP" and spoke/sang along to the whole thing. The next day I suddenly got Dump's rendition of "1999" in my head, from That Skinny Motherfucker With The High Voice?, and it's been stuck there ever since.  I'd forgotten about Dump (James McNew from Yo La Tengo) -- I'd loved "International Airport" when I first heard it a while ago, got a split 7" he did with Lambchop and then moved onto whatever else. But then somebody posted this tribute/re-working cassette recently and I dug in. He turns "1999" into drone church 808 pop, what used to be an instant dance song into positive meditation, speculating on eternity. It's ok to mess with the canon sometimes. His take on "Erotic City" is great, too, a rocker that most bands would envy (also: the original for comparison). I'm trying to find who posted the whole thing, let me look. Also, always wished I'd been the one to come up with "I was dreaming when I wrote this" as an opening line.

Dump - "1999"
Dump - "Erotic City"

I gave Mac Demarco's new record a shot and I kind of love it. The guitars sound great, everything is easy-going. It's not strict light rock, there's enough fucking around for it to work. It's like a record for poor, scruffy Steely Dan/Boz Scaggs/Rundgren fans? I guess? "Dreaming" is my favorite right now. "Cooking Up Something Good" starts off sounding like soundtrack music for a new Swiffer or the hottest brands at TJ Maxx, or like a cartoon animal walking down the street, but it's bent just enough that it's not exactly those things. And then the chorus is soooooo good.

Mac Demarco - "Dreaming"
Mac Demarco - "Cooking Up Something Good"

Oh shit, also: my friends Hollow Hills just put out a Halloween tape -- Haunted Hollow Hills! Limited physical copies and it's all covers -- Roky Erickson, Venom, Teddy Durant. GET THIS THING!  Eat some spooky nerds, drink cider, get in league with Satan.  I think they'll be playing shows in NYC soon, too, so look for that, New Yorkers.

Lastly: it can be weird when people you know are doing the best stuff around. Not weird bad, and not that you weren't expecting greatness, but sometimes they go way beyond. Tyler and Leah made a one-sided 7" single as a wedding favor and I still can't get over how good it is. I don't know if I'm allowed to post that song, so I'll hold off. I also just heard this song by Pleistocene and it blew me away. I've only talked to Katie Preston maybe twice. I actually just saw her last night and she had three beers in her hands. But holy shit, "To Bushwick" is great. Fuzzy intricate pop and real talk, so many good ideas and none of them seem labored-over. Legit stunning.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

space and time (cont.)

Brief notes on some things! The new issue of geneva13 is out and has another music column by me. Topics covered are the usual -- underground and not underground, or shouldn't be below the radar or likely won't be for long, or recognizable immediately. Oh and I made a mix for that issue, too.

I wrote about Angel Olsen's Lady Of The Waterpark tape, and said she draws from deep early folk music but makes it sound "current", but I think what I really meant was "relevant to your life right now". Saying she makes it current might lead people to think she does Woody Guthrie but auto-tuned,  or that she's working with T-Bone Burnett, which is not the case. If you've heard any singer-songwriter music or folk music in your life, she sounds familiar. But what's interesting is that in listening to Strange Cacti or the clip above, I didn't hear finger-picking that people did like 90 years ago in the Appalachian mountains or 50 years ago in the English countryside, or the kind of theatrical or exaggerated phrasing/vibrato/lowering that singers used to tell the story of the song or kick in extra feeling or extra haunting spells. I heard spare home-recorded music that was (I kind of hate using this word) hypnotic, and clearly beautiful, and lyrics that weren't early America/pre-war/'60s cottage specific. Maybe it's just that knowing she's in modern-day Chicago and exists in color digital video on YouTube is distracting from the oak wood of her songs, but I think it's an achievement to make existential, believable, stunning songs for 2012 out of the old playbook, to go back without making it feel like a history lesson. It's no wonder she's been playing with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, who does a similar thing, although I'm much more drawn to her. (Also, I'm waiting not so patiently for her new record to arrive at my house. Tracking info says it left the sorting facility in Warrendale, PA on September 6th. I work for the USPS and I know that sometimes things don't get scanned, that it's nothing sinister, just a slip-up. But I need that record. When I say not so patiently, I mean UGH I'M DYING.)

Soccer Team, who are awesome, just started a blog where they're posting demos/covers/alternate takes and it RULES. Last time I checked they put up a slower practice take of "Here's Why Dancers Smoke", which was already a great song with lyrics that seem to have come from very careful observation, and has some laughing towards the end that will make you want to be friends with them. Actually the whole blog will make you want to hang out with them and talk about music. And their Mark Lanegan covers!  I'm (finally) downloading Bubblegum as we speak.

Speaking of finally, the What It Is! 45 box set is in my home at last, a month or so after I saw it at a record store in Pittsburgh, passed on it, panicked, went back the next day only to find the store closed, then arranged for my friend Brady to pick it up for me and hand it off to our friend Ilona so she could bring it to me when she started school at the Eastman House. But I have it! Haven't worked through all the singles, but my fave so far is The Mighty Hannibal's "Somebody In The World For You". I like it for the most obvious reason -- it jams. You're into it as soon as you hear it. It sounds like a lot of things and all of those things are good. PMA vibes galore (not to be corny) and a groove.

Also, Eddie Hazel. He's in the box set, too, but holy shit, check him out slaying the Beatles. Also, I'd like a full wall in my apartment to be the cover of Games, Dames and Guitar Thangs, the way people sometimes have nature scenes wall-papered in their dens or dentist offices.

Oh shit, and Nina Simone's "Baltimore". I heard this the other day when I was reading Mish Way's 'Remembering The Dumb Moments That Shaped Me Through Songs' over at Vice. It's a great piece about drug soundtracks and adolescence/post-adolescence, a quick thing about a tape with Hole on one side and a mix with "Carry The Zero" starting off the other side, and a bunch of other songs that you know. These are your memories too, probably, give or take. And then there's "Baltimore", playing on repeat now that you've heard it.

Lastly: how did I not know this Harry Pussy collection was out? All I heard about was the Let's Build A Pussy re-issue, which frankly didn't need to happen. Least interesting of all the HP records, though kind of funny. But really, that conceptual joke over the In An Emergency LP? Or the fucking Tour LP? Or the 8" lathe split that I almost got for $100 a few years ago, but I was in DC walking around with family and wearing a Sunn0))) shirt and missing the end of the auction? Weird choice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In the interest of making dude with dong not the first thing you see anymore, and also in the interest of hi-lighting a song I like a lot, here's Cat Power's "Ruin". Can't wait for Sun. CAN'T WAIT.  Chan Marshall forever, all the trophies ever, I give lots of fucks, etc etc.

Also, "Crabs In My Pants". Also, you should get that Brian Jonestown tape on Burger. Not kidding, great lost '90s record that you always needed. Too good to just be coming out now in kinda limited numbers. Not a stretch to call it classic.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer came much too suddenly.
I'm pausing Badlands right now to post up this thing I found on my old computer, from 2008-ish, back when I was going to do a print zine called Werts Up. I had it in my head to review two records -- the Beekeeper/Ida split 7" and Unrest's Animal Park. I never finished the Beekeeper piece (might try to do that soon), but Animal Park was done and ready to go. So here it is, instead of a write-up about the Perfect Teeth vinyl re-ish. (Sidenote: I wasn't expecting that gold Shroud of Turin box, with Cath Carroll's ghost face staring at me--did I get some weird golden ticket version? I thought I was getting an exact replica of the one I saw in the Touchable Sound book.) Anyway, apologies for some rough, incomplete Unrest knowledge, and for tons of extra irrelevant info here. It was an odd time, maybe odd details felt appropriate. Although wildly adventurous and brave music soundtracking a lot of hesitation and deep car thought isn't all that strange:

Unrest were pretty weird.  Their Yes She Is My Skinhead Girl single had photos of Sammy Davis Jr. on the front and back covers -- one where he's whispering into the ear of a young blonde female, and another where he's standing next to Martin Luther King and they're both looking to their left -- and lyrics like "I want to fuck you all the time". Their Animal Park 7" has a shot of a guy heating up a tea kettle on the stove while his dick is hanging out.  They were really into Cath Carroll and Isabel Bishop and had an album called Kustom Karnal Blackxploitation.  This was while they were essentially an indie pop band that also did extended minimalist slow jams and atmospheric noise pieces and sometimes disjointed post-punk.  It's the kind of thing that can end up sounding too precious or sort of typical, and I guess they were that way a little bit.  But when I first started working in Phelps, I would listen to their Imperial f.f.r.r. record in my car before I had to go in, and get weirded out by how painfully honest and psychologically heavy they could be.  They have a song called "June" that starts out all bouncy and catchy with just the bass and drums, and Bridget Cross sings "As you lay dying/morphine and ice cream/staining your sheets and/confusing your mind/and it reminds me/they still get paid when you die".  About half-way through it switches to tropical, breezy '60s pop with her singing "Crawling through the snow/crawling through the blood".  On "Cherry Cream On", Mark Robinson sings rambling half-sentences that are part teen innocence and part graphic sex talk.  Everything they did on that record felt realer than real and almost embarrassing, like they didn't quite know when to stop, refusing to hold back on any thought they had.  And I would sit there listening and pore over the liner notes and notice stuff like how they listed the geographical coordinates for everyone involved with the record and the beats-per-minute for every song, which seemed like a Shellac thing to do or like something you'd find on a late '90s screamo record, and then suddenly realize I was about to be late for work.  Sometimes I could tell it was time to go in by looking out and seeing Bevin, the girl who did maintenance work in the morning, pulling into the parking lot or walking over to the office.  She was roughly my age and funny and insanely skinny, and in the wintertime she would wear this huge old coat (I think it was dark green) that went down to her knees, maybe past her knees, with a big hat and a big scarf, everything a different color.  She looked like an old-world peasant or something, walking down the street, but she really made it work.  She was also into Civil War re-enacting, and she managed to pull that off, too.  She could do basically anything.  I always thought she and I could probably be friends, but I could never come up with anything good to say to her, so we just said "Hey" to each other in the mornings, and she cleaned the floors and I delivered the mail awkwardly and that was that.  The first song on Animal Park has a chorus that goes "Why does anybody say anything they say anyway?", which reads kind of defeated or maybe disappointed, and it sounds a little like that when you listen to it.  But if you hear it at the right time, it just sounds like a good question.

Unrest - "Afternoon Train"
Unrest - "Light Command"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

it's Mother's Day, and this is always the first song that comes to mind, other than that song Tyler Farren would know, that's like 2 seconds long by some hardcore band that just goes "MOM!", with a quick count-in and one chord, a song that's essentially just a thud. I celebrated Ma's Day yesterday with the whole family, bought a young lilac plant at the Lilac Fest so my mom could add it to her garden-line, picked up chilled French chardonnay with a nice gold label so she could get buzzed on something light. Linda Werts does a million things with no-nonsense ease and laughs at my weird comments/surprise at the goings-on in Newark. She's a solid lady and does good work and I look a lot like her. So yeah, special wishes on this special day, again and again.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Too weak to fully undress.
Yo, check this Bill Callahan set in NY last summer. Guitar wizardry and hoots from the crowd, etc. We should all aspire to something along these lines.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just to see your face, you know it makes me feel aces.

I'm crazy busy, but here's a quick round-up. First, Henry's Dress. I listened to their half of their split 7"with Rocketship about 100 times on the way home from work today. It was hard not to. The songs are brainy charmers, exactly as noisy and poppy and oddly arranged as I want them to be. I have yet to hear a band (from any era) do it this well. Also, if there's a previously unknown/secret '90s influence on Dick Snare, I think HD are probably it? Also, where the hell are the exhaustive, beautifully-packaged Henry's Dress reissues already? SLUMBERLAND?

Henry's Dress - "Over 21"
Henry's Dress - "Can't Make It Move"

I could be wrong, but I think maybe everyone should be obsessed with Chet Baker. If you need a place to start, check out Bruce Weber's documentary, Let's Get Lost. I just found out you can watch the whole thing here.  DO IT.  Then maybe you'll be like me, and the most listened-to album on your iTunes will be Chet, his album from 1950 whatever. It's hard to care about modern music when you hear Chet. You imagine smoky parallel worlds, and everything is dreamy and slow. It's music for the world as it should be, even if it's just your own world right there in your room, or right there with someone. Like, why is anyone not listening to "Alone Together"? Maybe you have something against West Coast jazz, or you hear this and think "sentimental dad music" or Frasier or something. I won't go overboard here. I'll just say there's so much more to it than that.

Chet Baker - "Alone Together"
Chet Baker - "If You Could See Me Now"
Chet Baker - "Tis Autumn"

I was reading John Jeremiah Sullivan's Pulphead the other day (which is an excellent book, at least after the piece on the Christian Rock festival, which I didn't finish), and finally got through the essay about the Southern Death Cult cave paintings and moved onto the "Unknown Bards" piece, and got really excited to hear Geeshie Wiley's "Last Kind Words Blues". Then, after finding it on YouTube, I realized I'd already heard it, nearly 15 years ago, while watching Crumb on my parents' couch at three in the morning. But holy hell, what a song.

 Lastly: I've been listening to Felt a lot. I'm not a Felt scholar, so I won't get into their history. They have a lot of records, kind of intimidating. I remember reading this interview with Lawrence Hayward a few years ago, and that was enough for me to download Forever Breathes The Lonely Word. Now I'm on to Absolute Classic Masterpieces, which is in the Hall of Fame of Titles. The songs I keep going back to (or can't keep from hearing in my head) are "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow" and "Crystal Ball".  Everyone's got a thing for '80s Brit stuff, right? Stuff that's a little too precious, but you don't care? This is one of those things, great and jangly (those guitars!), wussy sing-talking and weirdly on-point lyrics, somehow radical and stately.

Felt - "Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow"
Felt - "Crystal Ball"
Felt - "The World Is As Soft As Lace"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The smell of burning leather, as we hold each other tight. 
Some videos to look at, and a few thoughts on each:

Do you ever wonder what your beliefs really consist of? I'm not talking religious beliefs. I mean what, at your core, you truly give a shit about. One time I was challenged to give a description of what I care about, and I say 'challenged' because it was asked not so much with gentle curiosity, but with a sort of 'prove to me you have character, right now' attitude. It was as much accusation as it was question. And it was coming from a girl for whom I had endless warm love-y feelings, so it was extra acutely wonderful (I was also driving, stuck behind someone going 3 mph under the speed limit). No idea what I answered, and I'm sure I didn't say what I was really thinking, but right now I believe in a world where there is room for what is happening in this live Tubes video. I caught this for the first time a few weeks ago at my friends' house and I keep thinking back to it, not just because it's sexy and wild and the music is great and the transition from "Don't Touch Me There" to "Mondo Bondage"--visually and musically--is so well-executed. But also because seeing this made me realize how much of a drag most shit is. I know that's real descriptive. What I mean is, thank christ things like the spring 1977 Tubes tour existed so that life isn't just the feeling of waiting at the check-out line at the grocery store and hearing your boss talk about Newt Gingrich. There's some questionable content in this clip, but fuck it, questionable is a good thing. Isn't life more exciting that way? Am I taking this too seriously?? Also, musical theater is rough, but this works. I don't know why. Also, watch The Tubes 1978 Documentary to get a better idea of the band, and go get copies of their first two records.

On a lighter note, Shirt Tales. Look for punk shirts!

And then Bill Evans. It's sunday as I'm writing this, so this makes sense. It's also just beautiful, and I found out where that sample from Madvillain's "Raid" came from. Seriously, I've listened to this full set 4 and half times today, while I read the new Paris Review. FYI: the Terry Southern interview is pretty good, and the short story by David Searcy ("El Camino Doloroso") is good enough that I almost ordered one of his books right after I read it. Haven't gotten into the John Jeremiah Sullivan piece yet. Shit is like 60 pages! I'm going to read the Crass interviews from the new ANP Quarterly right now. See ya.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I wasn't that surprised.
Some notes on two 7 inches from 2011. Grass Widow released Milo Minute on their own label, HLR, last year, and when I got it, I didn't listen to it right away. Something about their Past Time LP left me worn out, although I've since come to my senses. Past Time is excellent, an album of effortless, slightly mathematical hooks (see "Shadow"). It's tempting to just emphasize the radical girl-ness of them, to place them on a riot grrrl continuum (they're all-female, they have a record on Kill Rock Stars, they've played with the reunited Raincoats), but there's more. The video for "11 of Diamonds" almost feels Maya Deren-ish, like avant-garde beach noir from the earliest days of counter-culture America. On the flip side of Milo Minute, they cover Neo Boys and Wire, and in interviews they've cited '60s Brits The Move as an influence. And while their strength is often in their restraint (no wild distortion, no super fast parts or freak-outs), they have something of the pop rush and bounce of The Buzzcocks, and they hint at the briskness and poetics, the guitar jangle and bass rumble and adventurousness, of the Minutemen, but take it in another direction. They're a model female punk trio, no question, but you can go deeper and wider with them. "Milo Minute", the song, feels like their attempt at a jaunty 2-minute pop burst--plenty of craft, without a ton of overthinking. In the video for "Milo Minute", they go to Boston's Franklin Park Zoo and play music for gorillas, and it's here, with the band on one side of the plexiglass and a gorilla habitat on the other, that the song seems to grow. The band is so charming, they seem like they were going to the zoo to play anyway, and then said "oh! you should bring your camera, we need to make a video!" I did have some questions, mainly about whether or not it was good for gorillas to hear amplified instruments and drums, and then also what their hearing frequency was like. Is it like a dog's? Dogs don't seem to notice bands. The gorillas seem fine with it, especially by the end. Grass Widow have a way of making the complicated very uncomplicated and natural. They make it look not only easy, but desirable.

Grass Widow - "Milo Minute"
Grass Widow - "Time Keeps Time"

 One of the things I don't like about rock duos is that there's always some kind of shtick. They're married, or they're dating, or they're smiling too much, or they're really "stripped down", or they're really LOUD FOR A TWO-PIECE, or they only wear certain colors. It's rare that they're just two people in a band and that's it. Soccer Team is one of those rare bands. They're platonic (I think) and modest, and the closest they come to a gimmick is the use of a lot of tremolo, especially for a band that is not at all a garage band. The 3-song EP they released last year was partly recorded in 2006--the same year their last record, "Volunteered" Civility and Professionalism, was released--and partly in 2010. It sounds like it--same home-recorded (4-track cassette, 8-track reel-to-reel) DC indie rock, same wry humor and wordiness. They're smart and funny, and sound like they're experimenting without losing sight of the song. "World Series Apathy" rolls out images of damaged ear drums, Gods and Goddesses, long goodbyes. Ryan Nelson drops the line "clouds will cover every person and sweep through every living thing". He sounds like a mostly-composed post-breakup man trying not to think "defeat", possibly with the benefit of some distance, while cycling the line "Did we cry 'assistance!' when our hearts sank into the sea?" and not making it sound like bad emo. "Mental Anguish Is Your Friend" is a stunner and gets better with every listen. Melissa Quinley calls to mind Mary Timony or Liz Phair, the same lower register female voice, and gives off what sounds like a one-take perfect set of imperfect notes. I'm just reading over all the lyrics now. Fuck, is this record bleak, way more so than "Volunteered".  It's all doomed and damned, fuck this and fuck that, "I can't wait to die alone and broke". Nothing is gonna be ok, but we can kinda laugh about it? Maybe?

Soccer Team - "World Series Apathy"
Soccer Team - "Mental Anguish Is Your Friend"

Elsewhere--I watched a bunch of Cat Power interviews the other day, these two for example. And I listened to Container's "Rattler" on the way home from work. Gnar dance stuff! Oh and check out this Yaphet Kotto gem. Incredible. Ok, that's all I got for now. More tomorrow!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Some belated notes on Davy Jones. The Monkees were my first favorite band, the first I identified as clearly being the coolest. I spent hours on the green shag carpet of our TV room watching re-runs of their show on some local Fox affiliate,  and I remember telling a friend of my sister's that Davy was my favorite, although I think I switched to Mickey because he was funnier and I thought his songs were better. I remember walking down the streets of Toronto as a 6-year-old, holding a Monkees 45 my sisters had just bought me because they were especially cool (still are). Years later I started a band called The Chuds and we wrote a "Chuds Theme Song" because the subliminal power of the Monkees was THAT STRONG. As a high school straight edge kid who mostly wanted to listen to S.O.A., I didn't enjoy/understand Head at all, didn't want anything to do with it. I saw it again a month ago (as a 32-year-old Genny drinker who still wants to listen to S.O.A.) and I could not have been more wrong--it's one of the greatest movies of all time. You need to see it. So good and so fucking funny. Anyway, you should know that The Monkees were great, and that Davy was great. Here are a couple clips I saw in the past few days that I watched multiple times. RIP RIP RIP.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That's when I get the shakes all over me.  A couple quick things.  This is a speed post!  First, Raylene And The Blue Angels.  I picked up Destroy That Boy: More Girls With Guitars after hearing She Trinity's wild/proggy "Climb That Tree" on Mike Yates' Normal Happiness show on WITR (between that and Genevieve Waller's There's No Tomorrow show on WRUR, we're living in a very cool era for local college radio), and it's been on steady rotation ever since. Tons of highlights, and I maybe wanna talk about The Liverbirds' "He's Something Else" also. But Raylene and Co's "Shakin' All Over" will not leave my head.  You know this song already because everybody's done it (even Fugazi).  It could just be standard '60s vague coded hornyness, but I'm fine with that. And Raylene's voice sells it. It's rock n' roll fun and there's a sax, and again, anxiousness and getting all fired up and excited (all meanings, I guess). Would go nicely on a tape with Link Wray, The Monks, Brenda Lee, Ohio Express, Tommy James, etc. Also, rock n' roll literally means sex. I hope everyone knows that.

Raylene and The Blue Angels - "Shakin' All Over"

Elsewhere: When I think of Dirty Three, I think of the time I listened to Ocean Songs almost in its entirety on the way home from my friends' wedding a few years back. Not typical celebratory love music, but there it was. "The Restless Waves" almost made it on a lot of mix tapes around 2005, for whatever reason. And then I kind of drifted away from anything post-rock-y and had to listen to the Ramones, Modern Lovers, Buzzcocks, early Stones, et al, like a purging of anything with long melancholy sweeps, anything way over 3 minutes. "Rising Below", from their upcoming record, sounds good now. Maybe it's the weather (steady, not freezing, grey)? The long drives to work? Silver Mt Zion just played in Buffalo, and I thought about going to that. There's a comforting looseness about Dirty Three that I don't find in the Godspeed/Mt Zion stuff, though (or didn't, it's been a while). It's almost surprising Dirty Three manage to get to the part of the song where it gets intense and crazy. But they know what they're doing, and when you realize they weren't just fumbling through the chaos, it's a treat. There's something broad and nuanced going on, some kind of Frontiersman thing, some grown men concerns. Maybe I'm just thinking about how they look. I have to say a full album of meandering, cascading instrumentals might still be tough for me to get through. But this 5 and a half minute easy-going slow burst feels right.

Dirty Three - "Rising Below"

More elsewhere: I've been going back to Weasel Walter's '70s mix regularly because it's way too good. Also, all of the best bootlegs are probs on Doom & Gloom From The Tomb. I know this Neil Young live boot is the best shit, and this collection of Television demos and influences is solid (even if you have minimal interest in Television, the first disc is a quality mix).  Also, I got this Prince zine for my birthday and it's really good.  Kind of "Intro to Prince" crash course and "Guide to later era Prince stuff you were wondering about". ALSO, Rookie Mag posted up this clip of X doing "The World's A Mess; It's In My Kiss", which you might know as one of the greatest songs of all time by one of the greatest bands of all time. High time someone talked up Exene Cervenka.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ditch that place and get a snack.
Hey. Ok, so here's a new post, which is actually an article I wrote back in September for geneva13, where I've been writing music columns for like 3 years now (also, I don't know if a zine is really a "where", but I'm tired and I need to make dinner and my clothes smell like kerosene, so a little booklet is now a "where".) I've never wanted to post any of my g13 columns here because it felt like cheating somehow, to write something for one publication and then just throw it somewhere else, too. But I want to get the ball rolling on this blog again, or get some momentum going, because I still like music more than most things and I want to write, not even to get good at it or have it eventually lead to something, but just to fucking do it. Just because it's better to fucking do something, and it's better to have an opinion on music/art/words/jamz and actually give a shit. So here's a post. After this I'm going to post nearly everyday, probably just about one song. Like one song everyday, a song I just heard or a song I've been thinking about since I was 16, or whatever. Oh also, for the most recent issue of g13, I made a downloadable mixtape, which you can get from their site. I also made a mix for my grrrl Kaci's mixtape party back in January, which you can download here. There's one song that made it onto both mixes because it's SO GOOD. Anyway, read my shit and listen to some shit and shit the shit:

Margo Guryan - "Sunday Morning" from Take A Picture
My understanding of Margo Guryan is that she was a jazz-obsessed, gifted compositional scholar blissfully uninterested in pop music, until a friend played her The Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", at which point her mind was blown. Take A Picture, her one and only album, released in 1968, somehow went nowhere at the time, despite the fact that it's dreamy and radical, full of remarkable pop structures, wispy vocals and chord changes all over the place and light jazz touches. Guryan goes for something beyond the epic teen drama and strict sugar rush of a good girl group single. She's not afraid to freak people out with exceptionally weird moments ("Love"), or use proto-King Crimson off-time rhythms and crazed violin ("Don't Go Away"). And on "Sunday Morning", she exalts the relaxed and grounded (but not lesser) pleasures of waking up with the one you love, drinking coffee, easing into the day. Have you ever heard someone so pumped about having a day to just hang? Raw, booming drums and domestic normalcy sound really good together.

Gray - "Dan Asher (I Saw You Liking Everything?)" from Shades Of...
The thing about Gray is that the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was in the band, along with Michael Holman, Nicholas Taylor, and Justin Thyme, and a bunch of other people, including Vincent Gallo (he doesn't appear on any of the recorings on Shades Of...; you can listen to his 2001 album, When, to fill in the gap). Maybe the bigger thing about Gray is that their jazz/drone/hip-hop/experimental/whatever music was actually great. They prank-call a suicide hotline, make dumb art world jokes, and on "Dan Asher" sound like an early '80s NYC version of Men's Recovery Project. The open-air drums, repeated mangled guitar chord, and woozy synth break make me all warm & fuzzy for reasons I can't explain. It's like they made a song out of trying not to make a song. Some tracks are more anti-music than others, but there's a liberating secret beginner genius feeling to everything, something fresh in the grime and decay, something gnarly even in the light vibes.

Crazy Band - "Drop Out" from **** You
Well, here it is. One of the best songs from one of the best albums of the year. Crazy Band is a bunch of LA weirdos wailing out inside jokes and internet-speak over raw sax punk, almost like all those '70s/'80s Raincoats-style bands but with a much better sense of humor and shorter songs. This song in particular has a little bit of rough language, so get your parents' blessing if that's something you need to get. I also hope this song encourages kindergarten drop-out rates to sky-rocket. A perfect back-to-school jam for those of us living in the real world. ps: WELCOME BACK HWS STUDENTS, THANKS FOR ORDERING A MILLION STUPID THINGS THROUGH THE MAILSTREAM.

Jesus - "Songe Mortuaire" from Midnight Massiera

Neil Young - "I've Been Waiting For You" from Neil Young
First, let's talk about Jesus. I have some pamphlets I want to show you real quick. Actually, the Jesus that sings "Songe Mortuaire" is a guy named Jean-Pierre Massiera, composer/song-writer/freak-a-leak who's sometimes referred to as "the French Joe Meek", which I think is code for "pretty out-there '60s producer who liked electronics and maybe spent every waking minute in the studio working out music fantasies". Midnight Massiera collects 18 of his pop soundtrack bizarro ideas, released under pseudonyms like Human Egg, The Piranha Sounds, Chico Magnetic Band, The Starlights, Jesus, etc. I almost started the mix with "Ivresse Des Profondeurs" by S.E.M. Studios, and now I'm kind of wishing I had. Hermans Rocket's "Space Woman" is a treat, too. But "Songe Mortuaire" sounds like it could be Leonard Cohen, singing and staring out at the sea, or while the leaves are changing under dark clouds, or some other grim chilly weather situation. Plus those piano bits that come in halfway through! It's also fun to imagine the bible Jesus singing this. Try that out.

All I can say about "I've Been Waiting For You" is that it's a perfect song and you need to hear it. There are Neil records better suited to Autumn than his self-titled debut (I've been a sucker for the Dead Man soundtrack, After The Gold Rush, and Le Noise lately), and you're free to dive into those. But this song slays, so turn it all the way up, past the point of eventual hearing loss. I had a dream not too long ago that Neil Young was running for president. I forget who his running mate was (Pocahontas maybe?), but I'm voting for him in the 2012 presidential dream-time elections.

Bill Callahan - "Riding For The Feeling" from Apocalypse
I've been listening to Apocalypse regularly for the past six months, and even when I haven't listened to it in a bit, the highlights of the record come to me in flashes. There's Callahan's voice, a warm speaking-tone version of Johnny Cash's deep bellow, and the full lyrics to "Drover". There's the quasi surf leads and spacey accompanying guitar textures on "Baby's Breath", and the genuine feelings of affection for the USA brought on by "America!". There's his spot-on impression of a flare gun going off in "Universal Applicant", a song that also includes a section that goes:

Oh bees only swarm when they're looking for a home
So I followed them
I found the bees nest in the buffalo's chest
I drank their honey, that milk
I've seen this taste cased in almost every face
That's working to see it in all
And this kidnaps me

On "Riding For The Feeling", he allows himself a second pass at an uncomfortable goodbye, and makes reference to what he's inadvertently left off the record, even as he's clearly putting it on. I could be wrong, I'm not good at this kind of dissection. Every song seems to be about horse-riding, continuous work, surrounding plantlife, discussions of place and time, distant love, etc, with the occasional nod to the album itself (he sings the record's catalog number at the close of "One Fine Morning"), but not in an annoying meta way. At times it's as though Don DeLillo or Cormac McCarthy have made an album. Callahan gives military ranks to his favorite songwriters, and sounds like he knows how to fix things around the house. It's obvious when something's been done right, you know? When it's sturdy and legit, unique. This is one of those records.