Saturday, August 27, 2005


The Autumns by the Autumns

Check out the first critic blurb. Yeah. That's not me. It's from Tiny Mix Tapes, and the reviewer on the site proper goes by nightlight folklore. Who may be a Brad Shoup, but c'mon.

This is so money.

Conlon Nancarrow

Where have you been all my life? The clincher for me was the bio note about his entering public exhibition and competition to prove to his teenage son his life hadn't been wasted.

Here's hoping for boundless saltflats at the record stores; I'm off to Waffle House.

From the wires: Halladay out for season

Halladay out for season

Well, we'll go for that wild card next year, provided Gary Sheffield and Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina all start showing their ages (and in Bernie's case, as he continues to show his).

sir, you are talking to a whitey!

Kanye got five stars from Rolling Stone, an event that Metacritic claims happens "as often as the Red Sox win the world series," although since 2001, I can remember Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, and the White Stripes all getting five. Which means Boston is two behind, and RS needs to give back three, one, and one-and-a-half stars back, respectively. If I have to dwell on persona, I'm putting the album away. So Kanye wants to sell records to NPR listeners. Let him. I'll be stocking my Big Daddy Kane backlog.

Does the mention of stars sound like I've been on RYM too much? Yeah. And for good reason.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Utah state of mind

The Funeral Parlour's Secret

Deceased got a really good write-up in Chronicle of Chaos this week. Something to check out, I suppose, before I look for the latest Impaled.

Here's a great photoessay about Slayer. Those damn Backstreet Boys and their awful video. Is there such a thing as false glam metal?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

italics/underlining/bolding mine

Hi there,

I was just wondering if Mariah Carey's new song "Shake It Off" can top the charts, and shake off all competition including herself, or will her "We Belong Together" keep it from peak position?

Another question is, how do the Grammy Awards get tallied? Are they [based] on album sales and chart positions, etc.? What are Mariah's chances of winning Grammys for best album, best song and best artist, etc.? She deserves it and so much more -- it would be quite surprising if she doesn't win Grammys for her amazing new material.

Thank you for your time.

Kind regards,

Norman Mellett
South Africa

Dear Norman,

As you've probably seen by now, Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" (Island) has continued to rocket up the Billboard Hot 100, this week leaping 12-6. That makes it a strong contender to take over the top spot from Carey's preceding single, "We Belong Together."

Members of the Recording Academy vote for the Grammys. Their votes are not based on sales or chart positions. This is an awards show based on the music, so the voting is purely subjective. Academy members can't help but be influenced by records that have sold well and charted in high positions, but theoretically a brilliant album that didn't sell should be rewarded over an average album that sold a lot of copies.

I do expect to see Mariah on the list of nominees, but I won't predict beyond that. Just thinking of female artists, it's been a highly competitive year, with releases by Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson and Carey obvious choices for nominations.

-Fred Bronson, Chart Beat


While waiting for the upgraded oil change, I crawled through Wal-Mart's electronics section, in search of the Anna Nalick single. But for the most part, Wal-Mart's long since discontinued its singles section, once a bastion of country hits and sanitized urban music. Once I could rely on Wal-Mart for my Slimm Calhoun needs, but no more.

The one single I found was the Pussycat Dolls' "Don't Cha". The song (Bustaless version) was written in its entirety by Cee-Lo Green. I don't know quite what to make of that. At the least, I'm glad he's finding some way, any way to scale a Billboard chart, and I'm sure Fred "Chart Beat" Bronson had awarded him a plat interweb paragraph in honor, as he is wontonly wont to do.

I got my eyes dilated yesterday, so I had this celluloid shade device under my glasses the whole afternoon. 'twas blocky, large, and jutted from underneath the frames in every direction. Plus it appeared opaque, so I looked like a death-cypher. To amuse myself, I mouthed "The Whisper Song" to myself in my rearview mirror. It was terrifying. The 93.3 DJs were asking people to call in if they knew who the Geto Boys sampled for "Mind Playing Tricks on Me". Not for prizes; they were just curious.

Isaac Hayes, "Hung Up On My Baby". I used to know it.

Anyway, Ike's been popping up around me lately. Just got the Wu-Tang thing posted today, and next up is a Second Thought on Hot Buttered Soul. And the single version of "Walk On By" played on the warehouse's satellite today. It was missing so much, only the strings gave me solace. That and a slow work day. J claimed a sick day, but I handled all the incoming skids and managed a decent showing in goal for our various foosball matches.

Stacey's coming home soon. So is Janky.

you better smile, my nigga, you on Candid Cam

I got my first really negative comment for the Wu-Tang piece on Stylus. Myself has bitched about enough artists on the site to keep my Snarkland passport stamped for months, and that was for people I was rooting for (even before I was Chosen).

But since I'm Prickly and Untested, these sorts of comments - wherever they occur - give me pause. "Should I be writing is my taste in music dated am I making stuff up" sorts of things. I get over it, but before I do I've usually dashed off about four quick retorts. Note that one response, which should stay at one unless Fantastic (a semi-regular poster with good manners) decides to draw up a discussion. Staff policy for criticism is one blanket response or nothing at all, which is good for those of us who are more flappable than we want to appear.

And anyway, he didn't critique the article, just the song. Hell, I don't even know if he read the article. In it, I got the song title right (as of now, the front page still reads "Wu-Tang Clan with Isaac Hayes, Walk On By" - e-mail was sent), as well as the album, but he still chooses to tell me what album "I Can't Go to Sleep" is on. Er. I rather liked the writing.

NOTE: If you replace all instances of "he" with "Fantastic," I look completely ludicrous.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I have a sexual site. It pretty much covers sexual related stuff.

You know that Kids in the Hall episode where Bruce brings Kevin as Mr. Stevenson, the lost businessman, home? And how Bruce's mom finally convinces him to release Mr. Stevenson into his natural habitat, which meant a busy urban sidewalk? And so Mr. Stevenson is jerking his head about like a snow owl, exchanging handshakes and business cards with his equally clueless & feral colleagues?

I imagine that if this meeting took place on the InterZone, it would look much like this.

Luxury: Not Solely For the Bearded Man

Well fuck me for the guilt but Luxury is back with Health and Sport, their first record in six years. The last was a stone-certain classic, and I've been meaning to pump it as much as I've been with Brutal Juice (terrible rating on Anyway, Lee has the album out for almost a month, but as you saw at Northern's page, we have a month left to go, my sweet revenants.

And profligates!

Cause I'm too sexy for AIDS like Right Said Fred

But I'm so good with the women that if I ever caught AIDS
a woman doctor'd find a cure just so she could get laid

-Big Daddy Kane

All hail the futile burning majesty of Big Daddy Kane!

With whom I share a birthday!


John Wayne = toy cowboy

Official World Wide Website of

Johnny Lee Clary

The Former National Leader Of The Ku Klux Klan, Now A World Renowned Civil Rights Leader

And Former Professional Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Johnny Angel

I think that says it all, doesn't it?


It's all about respectin yourself
In order to gain respect from anyone else
Treat yourself like a real woman should
Cause bitch, you ain't no damn good

-Bid Daddy Kane, "No Damn Good"

Mmm. Delicious.

Bluestate: Tolerance for All

On behalf of my people, I apologize.

Bluestate: The Movie

Friday, August 19, 2005

more dap than H. Rap Brown

I got SOUL POWER never took a cold shower
Never had a girlfriend the color of cooking flour

- J-Ro of Tha Alcoholiks

Lord grant me twenty, Lord grant me ten

Rest in peace, Biscuit. Randy Turner of the Big Boys died on Thursday in his home of unknown causes. Hopefully we'll get some more news soon. I got released from work at 5 AM. Picked up a paper on my way home, turned to the Metro section, and there was the obit on the front page. This, just as Biscuit made the front page of the Austin Chronicle for a piece on his recent installations.

I have no personal history with the Boys, but I feel the same loss as when Ted Radcliffe died the other week. These were pioneers, and their due still seeks them out. There's an added poignance since Biscuit died in my backyard. "Funk-punk," foppish and sloppy when well-meaning fascism was the rule. Although given their due by contemporary punks and rockers (SY's Thurston named them a top-five band of the era, I've read reference to BB being the Minutemen's "sister band," and Butthole Surfers recorded Psychic...Powerless...Another Man's Sac at one Boy's studio), the name doesn't really carry the weight it ought. "Stepping Stone" and Wire were the reference points for the DC scene (excepting those go-go bands), but none of them ever thought to cover "Hollywood Swingin'," as the boys did. And where the Pistols had emphasized the possibility of crowd provocation (hardcore taking that to its logical extreme), the Boys let everybody join in the damn fun. Think of the D-Plan, think of the Big Boys. Look for a few tracks on the Stypod this week.

On Paul McCartney's concert video Back in the U.S.A., there's a particular shot that still comes to mind every few weeks. The band's knocking out "All My Loving". Macca's jovial as ever, mugging, playing to self-satisfied boomers and their not-guilty children, everyone's shimmying badly, and the instrumental break's just finished. There's that pause where Paul sings before the guitars come back, a neat trick that makes you believe he's truly breathlessly eager here, and as soon as he begins that final invocation, the camera cuts from Mac to an audience member, a slim, greying man of medium height in his fifties, standing crying with this slight smile on his face. What I wouldn't give to know this man's history with this particular song! It's a moment that wipes away all my surroundings; there are no Beatles, there is nothing but that beautiful man and his private reverie.

KISS, "I Love It Loud". No arguments.

Finally: every VJ on Fuse is a joke. And every show on Fuse is a joke. And the bumpers are jokes. And their sense of what's real and relevant is a joke likewise. They exist solely to have shown me Black Flag's "TV Party" video at 10:20 PM today, and they should cease transmission as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

tideover anecdote


I'm pulling desktop parts on Monday night. The man we affectionately call Willy Wonka for his bent-twig frame and shock of blond (work with us) hair stops me, gesturing at my Ramones shirt.

"I have them on a food stamp."


"I caught them live once, and I didn't have anything on me for them to autograph, so I handed them a food-stamp. They really got off on it."


"Yeah, I'm never gonna get rid of it."

Of course not.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

i got you a new name

ooh david ruffin you magnificent bastard i'll get you yet

shot shot kiss shot

I just registered for the GRE. Seems like a glorified SAT.

The German in me demands I compile a list of songs which name-check artists. And so I've been plugging them into an Excel spreadsheet, with plans to sort them by referenced artist, referencing artist, song genre (hip-hop & non). And I'll have a total of who drops the most names, as well as who gets the most lyrical mentions. Early prediction for the latter is Elvis.

Listening to Neu! 2 right now. Sometimes I like to play a game with niche artists; I pretend a bigger name recorded their album. Does it sound as good? If, say, Neil Young and Crazy Horse had laid down the synth-heavy four-on-the-floor minimalistic workouts of Neu!'s second album, would I like it as much? Probably, if just for the percussive propulsion (great recording quality). And the keyboards are plastic evocation, constantly reminding me of Boards of Canada's rich Nova ambience. Fun can be faked, but if so they're working wonders with just a twist of the brow.

On Terrell Owens, from ESPN'S NFL Live: "We're not questioning your work ethic. We're not questioning your desire. We've seen you do sit-ups in your driveway."

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Er. I couldn't pass it up. Nazi Stormtrooper Marches on cassette. If they're selling it for a dollar, I'm buying it. But I drowned it in Bebop and Nothingness, an Edith Piaf cheapo import comp, a big book of mazes and what was supposed to be discs one and two of the Dischord 25th anniversary set (IT WAS TWO AND THREE IMAGINE MY HORRORRRRRRRRR).

When you put Ghostface and MF Doom on a track together, you find out who's the complete MC and who's just passable at anagrams. Think anyone'd buy an album entitled So... Tech Fag? besides me?

That many?

When I visited my folks today I listened to a Cat Stevens best-of my brother Jeff'd loaned. The man had a convicted voice way before Islam, even if he fell back to niceties too often. Even the liners gave him a backhanded compliment about becoming the favorite singer of teenaged girls. "Bedsitter pop". Now that's an enviable kingship.

But he's my childhood, and I won't hate. "Sitting" is jaw-dropping. Jeff swears by "Foreigner Suite," which I think he digs for its organic sexiness or something. Could be misrepresenting him.

You know the first Antony & the Johnsons album? "Cripple and the Starfish"? Where he's a child begging to be hit? "I'll grow back like a starfish!" he keeps promising over a shameful sax. Damn.

If you haven't heard it, that's too bad for you?

Friday, August 12, 2005

white people like Gavin DeGraw because he makes Jason Mraz look like Bushwick Bill

This pic is too wide; it forces all my posts into limbo (the metaphysical locale, not the game)

I have no idea why it goes: Green Day, Gavin DeGraw, Mariah Carey, the Decemberists. Some staffer with a TEH shirt and swellings of pride from her Arcade Fire poster on the left cubicle wall?

I say "her" not because I'm sexist, but because I'm a bastard. Difference.

Brad v. Billy Wilder fever dreams

One of my father's co-workers got the boot the other day, and at his farewell party (the bastards) he mentioned that his band was playing the Velvet Spade on Friday. Now my dad has fond memories of this guy's musical abilities; he sang along while the fired man and another man not yet dismissed played acoustic guitars in a meeting room.

Come to think of it, perhaps the waste of company time was a factor in his canning. My dad better watch his back.

So he's gonna see him play, and he's taking Mom, and I'm going too. Here's a description of the Spade from some sycophants:

Finally a club has come to Austin that sets itself apart from the rest! The Velvet Spade has a Sunset Blvd / grunge feeling! Located in the heart of the Red River District, The Velvet Spade, is a place to go when you do not want to be seen but you will be seen. This is a place where you would not be surprised if you were to walk in and see Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson taking shots at the bar! This is rock-n-roll meets beauty, a perfect pair!

I give this place ten minutes before I hear something described as "money, baby". Get in on this; the over/under's fantastic.

Did you see this? $3 WELLS 'TIL 9! For drink specials, this little city blows. Give me cowtown any day.

Theodore Roosevelt Radcliffe

Rest in peace, Double Duty.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

from the two, the thousands

Oh yes, we have bought records. We have

-Incredible String Band, 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion
-ditto, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (much less fey than I'd feared, two fantastically talented multiinstrumentalists crafting singular Albion whimsy)
-Ulver, Blood Inside (black metal with the guts replaced w/ gauze)
-Jandek, Raining Down Diamonds (his coming-out party for reals, all full of existential stripteases for the ever-widening dialogue)
-Momus, Stars Forever (2 discs for eight bucks, plus it's a discussion piece: 30 songs commissioned & paid for by individuals/bands/companies, all extolling the patrons)
-Godspeed You Black Emperor!, f#a#∞ (just cos I ought to own it at this point. Moving toward differently-arranged pieces recently, away from the guitar/bass/drums thing, excepting my beloved thrash/death metal, which José has been totally stand-up about. I finally got him his copy of the Brutal Juice album. More on him in a sec)

Okay, second's up. José's fantastic because we can talk freely about music. Yeah, his roots are in metal, no doubt, but he's a musician foremost, and approaches all songs thusly. So he can get down to the Betty Wright or (damn you all) the Kelly Clarkson. We both find Stevie Ray Vaughn to be tremendously overrated, but we couldn't admit anything until the woman with the SRV tattoo quit work. Five foot of fire. And among his first musical loves were the Cocteau Twins. Now it's Nightwish. But he's got a poster of Nellie McKay at his place, and as much as her music makes me groan, I have to respect that kind of confluence.

But seriously. Jandek's aware now, and he's clinging to the iron ankle of Christ. I'd never heard a concept record about me before.


Seen today on another music review site:

Put aside your indie-rock pretentiousness and admit it: the best rock ‘n roll bands bring out that love of rock, and Lucero is one of the best.

What does that mean?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Dictators Unearth Rarities Album

And Katy Lied is better (read: more human, more wholly jaded) than Countdown to Ecstacy.

dog day aftershave

Relevance? Depth of discovery? I can't give you that here, man. I can talk about the Killers' new single, and how it's the only really good track on the album, how it's got the lyrics to last etc.

To wit:
"I want to mean it from the back of my broken hand."
"I'm so much older than I can take." - contrasted with "I am too young, and they are too old."
The transmogrification of sentiment (contradicting himself bitterly): "You know, you know/No, you don't, you do-o-on't ..." Petulant and pathetic. You've heard it already, yeah?

Hell, even the way Mr. Flowers imbues a line like "Don't you put me on the back burner" makes it a desperate threat.

Gotta keep current. I bought the new Nevermore but no one above ground gives a care. So I'm keeping an eye on next month's Les Georges Leningrad, maybe the Ninja High School vinyl. Tomlab's got a summer sale going on for the next couple weeks, so maybe I ought to get some new stuff for once. Instead of scouring the racks for Heptones (Perry's track is the best by a country mile) and the Embarrassment's Death Goes West (still looking).

Bought some baseball cards cos I'm smoke-free now. Miggy Cabrera, D-Train, a Jeff Bagwell retrospecticus. Not a bad haul. I pulled a Nomar too, and was surprised to find I didn't give a crap.

And I miss Lost, the only energy drink I could stand. Gone the way of Surge and OK; I missed tasting OK by like five months but I still miss it: is that cool, panochas?

I don't know why I did this.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The best looking footy players in the USAFL

I can't tell is this video is of Sheryl Crow or Liz Phair. The guitars twang like George Harrison, so I'd think it was Sheryl Crow, but the vocals are pretty off, so it could be either. About the same age, singles debuting the same month, plying the same musical wares... odd. Never made the connection.

UPDATE: I think it was Crow, maybe.

Monday, August 08, 2005

ash out-out

Mannish Boy: The Non-Definitive Guide to 50s Rock is up today. There're a few typos: that's what I get for putting my contrib in the body of the e-mail instead of in an attachment. Still happy with the result. Gill's digression in the "Pizza Pie" write-up was gently put & Cober-Lake did a fine blurb for a Robins song I would like to hear one day.

And then McGowan had to get all Gunnery Sergeant Hartman on Pat Boone. Maybe it's all for the best.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

the Human Clock: Singing a Song About TIme


Saturday, August 06, 2005


More Jamrock.

"Everybody Gets One Summer"

That Budgie album is not worth 16 bucks. USED!

Picked up Nevermore's new LP and a CD by William James IV, entitled Requiem For the Nineties. Mostly black color, stark typeface, shot of a cemetery on the back, but it's one of those Texas Border singers. But within the first three songs he's railing about "SXSW bullshit," and "all-chick"/"all-dick" bands. This may prove to be something. Right now, there's only one result when you search for "Requiem For the Nineties". In a week or so there'll be two, more if I start adding my albums onto

Nevermore? It's awesome, of course, why do you ask?

I got real wild [cheers]

My brother has e-mailed me a highly engaging parody-piece about the rise of a ska subgenre called 'squad' that's making its presence known in the pop world. I honestly thought - since the prose was so well-referenced and dotted with inventive & honest proper nouns - that my brother (your man on the ska front) had assembled a true history. I searched for a few of his bands, and it was only then that I got it.

Hopefully it's going somewhere soon. He didn't tell me its purpose; I'm only guessing that it's parody.

Stacey's at the bar today, so it's time for some potable lunch.


Friday, August 05, 2005


Now that I have this small sounding-place, I can put up a couple comments I've been meaning to; specifically, on Tim McGraw's "Back When".

It's a track I've heard off an on for a few months now, and until today I hadn't known the singer. Maybe that's an indication of Mr. ChippeWAahhWW's opacity (read: blandness). But it's not a bad song; the chord changes are real poignant, especially on the chorus, as the pedal pushes things along at a languid pace. It's a country song, you know? Not a ballad. But something close, and kinda yearning, but for what?

Here's where the lyrics come in. Basically, Mr. McGraw's real bummed out that the coarsening of public speech has given some words double meanings, words that he (apparently) holds real dear.

Back when a hoe was a hoe
Coke was a Coke
And crack's what you were doing
When you were cracking jokes
Back when a screw was a screw
The wind was all that blew
And when you said I'm down with that
Well it meant you had the flu
I miss back when


This is the guy who did a song with Nelly, who's probably used all those words the Bad Way. I'll be honest: I kind of sympathize with Tim here. But these are the times we live in, and coarseness has never gone out of style, and he did that song with Nelly, man! Come on.

But because of "Over and Over Again," I'm going to issue to boy a pass. I won't accuse him and his songwriters of yearning for a pre-Black-infused culture, whatever that means to them. Actually, the chorus would make it pretty obvious what that means to them. Drugs 'n' sex. There's a part in "Back When" where he ruefully admits "I'm readin' Street Slang For Dummies/Cos they put pop in my country" - honestly, Tim, tell me where Darryl Worley's name-checking Colombian rock cocaine. We'll put an end to it. Alicia Elliott sang "Diggin' It". Is that what you meant? "Street slang". Maybe that's a MuzikMafia reference, but it's not like they've overhauled the country landscape or anything. Their impact will be minimal, trust me, like Kid Rock's or Trini Triggs'.

Just a really openended song. Fascinating sociobullshitical stuff to think about. For me, at least.

Dude! You won't believe this isn't a fictional conceit, but Faith Hill's "The Way You Love Me" came on CMT. The one with the throwaway shot of two waitresses: one thrusts her crotch into the other's, before turning around to let the other girl thrust her crotch onto her butt. One of those moments for which "wtf" was coined. Hey Tim, look to your own house, boy. How'd that sexing-up go for the missus' pop career?

I have a feeling that Instant Star will be incredible, all equating not wanting to surf every day with being deep. Acoustic guitar being standard teencode for soul, cool black kids everywhere to affirm your worth, fame coming just when you're at the peak of your wishing. Just some wishful thinking; I doubt I'll ever see an episode.

throw out yr gold teeth

Yes, I google my name on a frequent basis.

I ain't frontin'. Let's all encourage Jack to share his story, campers.

chop-chop-choppa style

I think that soon I should buy for a proposed On First Listen piece. The band would be Kraftwerk. I don't own any Kraftwerk, I don't listen to Kraftwerk, and I can't conjure the melody of a single song by Kraftwerk. So I ought to step out and take one for the team.

The Stooges, too. I know me some Iggy but not some Stooges. Although! I bought a Three Stooges three-ep DVD last night. There's actually a Curly episode. And there was this DVD, which I did not buy, but which forced a lingering perusal all the same:

The text at the bottom isn't a genius non-sequitur; it finishes out as "in dysfunctional" BORING. Oh. And Choppa's in it, see? Movin' on out of Nawlins.

TurboManager took away second shift's foosball (just the ball, not the table) and threatened to take all their names down for playing after someone stole the "DO NOT PLAY" sign. Apparently the table's so rickety (we knew that, but don't care) that it could fall on someone and pose an insurance risk. But since no one cares about overnight shift, I just have to pick up a replacement ball from Academy and we're free to endanger our wittle toes.

Going to the girlfriend's town! She doesn't like the Mekons. Booooooooo.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Arthur Conley Will Have His Revenge

Have you checked the lyrics to the new Jandek yet? He's like a floating sphinx. Or your grandfather.

Been tired lately; on Tuesday we shipped 110 skids in nine hours (previous record: 59 for an 11-hour shift). Today we held it to around 60, but still. Sharay and I were a foosball extermination squad: we lost only once during two breaks and a lunch. He also whistled along to the Pete Yorn harmonica solo playing over the warehouse's satellite radio; coming from a large six-two-plus cornrowed shift leader given to blasting the Hustle & Flow soundtrack in the parking lot, I was mildly surprised & pleased.

On to business:

Two videos on VH1 that lessened my self-worth: Joss Stone and Leela James. Two pathetic interpretations of soul, two fantastic hairstyles.

Stone's take is the less authentic one, given her skin color (either a wrong or unfortunate observation, some might say?) and her age. Plus, the track is "Grazing in the Grass". It doesn't sound like it. It isn't a sample. It's her backing band playing the song whilst she dangles a lazy car metaphor in her baby-bourbon tones. SO WHAT? Is this soul? Flashbacks to all those times I've peeked into the magick pages of Teen People, to receive comfort that, yes, most of the people walking around looking like they may have a vague clue about where's we've been as a society, what our art says about us, the wonderful surprises underneath an average American locale - many of these people have been told that this is how people dress, and Rocker Chick is the new persona to have hold & play around in. The consequence of this marketing is wonderful shoes, masses of boys and girls whose attitude is seemingly designed not to betray the shirt, and music that plugs at a couple signifiers long enough for most of us to give in.

Mostly African-British backing band, complete with the standard one-man/two-woman choreographed backing vocalists? Melismas dropped where Aretha Franklin, Doris Duke, or Carla Thomas would never have bothered? A groove, any groove? Good enough. There is no real pain, betrayal, or rapture in her voice; as pretty as it is (and it is nice to hear a low-end female voice), it's soul for those who've flipped through the Time-Life infomercials and hear "Respect" in every effing romantic comedy ever made.

Maybe Leela James could rant about this. Maybe she has. All I know of her ranting capability comes from her single "Music," in which she artlessly drops all the classic names, without convincing us one bit that she should even bother writing out the nametag:

Somebody plays on the guitar strings
Makes me think of my favorite songs
Reminds me of when I heard Aretha sang
Gladys, Steven, and Chaka Khan
Can’t go back to yesterday
Can we just put the thongs away

Did she just bitch about thongs? Who in soul music makes a to-do out of wearing thongs? Obviously, she's referring to hip-hop, which is related to soul in the way dub is related to ska. Jeez, she's just pouting. Anyway... Kanye's "Through the Wire" made a better case for Chaka Khan's relevance than this track.

And fall back in love with music
Nothin’ but the music

Oh, everybody knows that Marvin’s gone
Still I gotta tell you what’s going on
Said the music gone

My, my. I'm tired of "What's Going On" being co-opted into anyone's sloppy investigation into whatever bugs them. In Mr. Gaye's hands, it was kind of a hazy, openended question anyway. But now it's just a shorthand signifier for one's being down with black music's past.

Where’d the music go?
It's all just for the dough
It ain’t songs no mo’
Where's the music gone?

Joe Carducci might say that every generation of African-American musicians overthrows the previous generation, for a variety of reasons I can't do justice to. And, as anyone could tell you, ever since bluesmen got their asses up to the city (and even before - Fat Possum roster exception?) black people making music - like everyone else - have been in pursuit of making money doing so. Even the ones who didn't sing about dusting their brooms or dropping the pistol on some 99th-degree woman.

Still hear Donny playin’ them keys
Singin’ one day we’ll all be free
Can’t even turn on my radio
Somebody hollerin’ 'bout a bitch or a ho

Full confession: I just listened to Grandmaster Flash/Furious Five's "The Message" in its entirety this July Fourth weekend. I thought that I had a handle on it based on its chorus, and I was stupid. It really still is hard-hitting, brutish: urban psychology writ forcefully and sparingly. And it's the first of hip-hop's hundreds of rebuttals to Leela James. Yes, artists like Mr. Gaye and Sam Cooke (whose gorgeous "A Change Is Gonna Come" is naively ripped-off for Ms. James' album title - see how his cries for equality are diluted into a plea for better CDs?) spent large portions of their careers making records aimed at social change. But by 1985, shit hadn't gotten much better for a lot of African-Americans, and hip-hop was th' biggest camera on a bleak landscape. Sure, a lot of brash young men have committed some vile lyrical diarrhea to wax, but without hip-hop, a huge chunk of America would have even less of a clue as to what it's like for a typical black man or woman, still dogged by the aftereffects of societally-condoned racism. Who would paint the picture? Lionel Richie? Wynton Marsalis? Jody Watley? (I still love you Jody, please don't hate) Soul had its chance, and lost it some time before hip-hop was engendered in the brains of some discerning, connected cats.

O! it's downright vexing to read someone's reductionist lyrics about "rap = bitches". Such an parroted stereotype, in fact, that it makes me suspect that someone middle-aged and pale wrote this song. Prove me cynically misguided, anybody.

Right now I’m missing music
Black folks count on music

So am I, kid, and so do I. Let's talk about yours for a second. First of all, your blatant use of warm LP ambience is a lazy signifier for "real". The guitar and organ are pleasant in an Anthony Hamilton sort of way, definitely better than "Bonnie and Clyde 03". But... that's it. No hooks, no energy, and whatever soul she displays vocally is wasted on empty carping on Them Ig'nant Negroes. Really, Joss Stone could sing the same song in the same style about pop music, changing "bitch or a ho" to "mom or a dad" (Simple Plan? Avril? Linkin Park? ALL BURNED), and it would be about as artistically valid.

As you can see by the wordcount, Joss bothers me much less than Leela, because white Westerners have spent the last century or so co-opting and mutating black American art for themselves. In my mind, it's a mostly-harmless practice. It's to be expected, and Black music comes off all the better, no matter what. The good imitations/superceders point back to their source material with pride, given enough time. The bad stuff just points up all the good crap.

But in "Music," Leela James takes an awkward, blind slap at an artform that can be sublime, and has been, on many, many occasions. It's as if she's never heard a song by (ignoring White People) Ghostface ("Be This Way," "Love," "All That I Got Is You," "The Sun," "Save Me Dear"), Jay-Z ("Where Have You Been," "Song Cry," "A Ballad for the Fallen Soldier") the Wu-Tang ("I Can't Go to Sleep," "A Better Tomorrow"), Jean Grae, 2pac, Kanye, KRS-ONE, KMD, Brainwash Projects... I'm not nearly a hip-hop head, so there are paragraphs of names to be added. The point is, she's wrong, and if this song were memorable for its titular content, she'd be dangerously wrong. Joss is wrong, too, but nothing a trip to the pop-culture closet won't fix.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


This, especially the final paragraph, is both joyfully flippant and desperately self-negating. I know it's a week late, which is roughly an adolescence in Internet time, but I just came across it. I'm so afraid that Six Feet Under will kill my enthusiasm for Sports Night.

Ah well, guess it's better to not own a TV so you can get that thesis done.

homework: google 'cyclotouriste' 'lonelyplanet'

No kidding...
Submitted by Anonymous on August 3, 2005 - 11:11am.
I haven't had a television for nearly ten years now, and I can't in all honesty say that I've missed it all that much. I originally decided not to have one because I was working on my graduate thesis and knew it would be too much of a distraction -- but considering that most programming is little better than junk food for the mind, I still don't have one despite having finished the degree over five years ago. I rely almost exclusively on the internet for my news reports -- mostly CNN combined with a few progressive-oriented sites which report stories largely ignored by the major media (which I think actually doesn't challenge the current administration enough as opposed to challenging it too much)...

I didn't know people actually said things like this; were I playing Wilderness Pretentious Bingo, I'd be halfway to the stage to collect my microwave. Look, you've got the Informed And Aware Grad Student, the Hey Everyone I Don't Own A TV, the All TV Is Crap, and the I Am Onto You, Major Media Propagandists. Add on a Free Space and I'm just golden.

Sort of like "I don't like organized religion, I just try to be spiritual in my own way" and "I just want to listen to stuff I can dance to" and "But he's a man, so he doesn't ask for directions." People actually say this stuff? These aren't just hoary set-up lines on sitcoms of varying coverage? I guess I need to talk to more people. Or maybe this implies the opposite.

it's one time I'm glad I'm not a man

I just realized: Jason Mraz. Mr. A-Z.

I actually attended a show of his a couple years ago, because the sweetest girl walking this earth had a spare ticket and we were in the midst of this film-watching phase so I got it. I am a fan of his showmanship, if nothing else. But nothing else.

A few Mariah Carey tidbits:

1. The dude in this week's Billboard Chart Beat Chat keeps calling her a musician.
2. Anytime someone says of a female pop singer, "she writes her own stuff," she doesn't. Carey has at least two non-sampled collaborators for "We Belong Together" (one of whom had to've concocted the wicked "element/hell I went" rhyme). Kelly Clarkson only co-wrote "Behind These Hazel Eyes," she had nothing to do with the writing of "Since U Been Gone," only the delivery. Debbie Gibson... yeah, she wrote her own tunes. So yay Deborah Gibson, Immortal One.
3. Remember "Fantasy"? The best pop song of the 1990s? Sure you do. She nicked nearly evey element from the Tom Tom Club and their monotone dancefloor bacchanal, sure, but it's instant heartbreaking evocation when she comes up on that chorus. Babies and pacifiers.

like 1974

Jeff Mangum makes rare public appearance

...Which makes it sound like he's been pickling beets in the root cellar all this time. The point is, he's out there, on stage. With the Olivia Tremor Control, but Neutral Milk (or at least a Mangum-led release) is not far behind. I think I predicted 2008, but let's bump it up to fall of next year. I hope he's doing well; if creating music is a lessened part of his life now, I'd love to hear why, but 1) he doesn't owe me anything and 2) lurid speculation is what I do best.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


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half-rent August

Searching for a particular best-of list when I came across Matt Tobey's collaborative project. Assents and scepters to #29, #52, #73, #126, #132, #170, #279, #284, #369, #397-399, #413, #496.

... minus the obvious favorites, of course. Yes, a list about a list. It has come to that.

Confidential to the author of #456: Fuck you; it's terribly obvious that you don't know another Wu-Tang member by name, so you picked one of the weirder ones in hopes that his solo work sucks. Sorry, asshole, you just drafted Len Bias to hold down the corners. You ought to have said Cappadonna, but he's trying to feed three kids, so that's a no go and fuck you.

The Black Pullet

On the back of my Armour LunchMakers Cracker Crunchers:

about magic

1. Magic Tools Please!
Magicians always have a wand. According to wizard textbooks, Wizards also need a sword, a staff, a lancet, and a white-handled knife!

2. Open Sesame!
Ancient magic books say you can open any lock by reciting these words: Saritap Pernisox Ottarim. Use it next time your locker won't open!

When I typed the words saritap pernisox ottarim into Google, a mere 25 results arrived. The first of which is this. My LunchMakers forgot to mention the necessity of owning a deep blue satin talisman, with silver embroidery. Perhaps one saves up UPC codes.

There is also a tale of Necromancy and the Kabbalah for viewing.

Apparently, Armour is recruiting in the most roundabout way, and for the most obscure job positions, imaginable.

Monday, August 01, 2005

rivers & blips

It is 1998. Better Than Ezra is the best band striding the soil, and the words "good times" form a haunting, echoing mantra of uninversal longing.

This is the world in which Tommy Lee is still living. There is an appropriate intervention group somewhere.

José made me a copy of Coven's Blessed Is the Black, a Pac-black regional success. It's great simply for the fact that it sounds like garage metal: I've listened to five songs and have heard no blast beats. Trebly, overdriven guitar out of a practice amp. Songs called "Rock This Church" and "McDonaldsland Massacre". It's thrash, it's speedpunk. I think my copy is dubbed from a cassette.

What a technically precise review. Reminds me of Mike Heumann's system for reviewing electronic albums. Anyway, Transylvanian Hunger is one for me to look out for. Like, you know, eleven years after the fact.


PapaWheelie comes through in a big way on Miami Bass. Give it a look; this is only a splendid chapter in someone's greatest hip-hop book ever.