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.