Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Jesus sings Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

The crowd will be joined by Bez - the entertainer famous for shaking his maracas on stage with the Happy Mondays. He will be accompanied by former Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown and Black Grape saxophonist Martin Slattery.

The event will end with the resurrected Jesus singing an as yet undisclosed song from the top of Manchester's town hall.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere (trad. arr.)

Part 1: Church of Brunch!

Last Sunday was a landmark day for a new sect. As the screenwriter for 24 Hour Party People noted, there were but 13 people at the Last Supper. So for the First Breakfast at the Church of Brunch, four people and a vegan coffeecake in North Austin are nothing to pooh-pooh.

For their first meeting, the two attending couples sang that hoariest of hippie-pop hits, the Doobie Brothers' "Joy to the World". The aforementioned coffeecake was circular. To represent unity. There was some conversation, a reading from a Warhol biography. Was this the incipience of a cheeky new creed? My paper needed to justify an above-the-fold treatment in the Metro section, so half the article was devoted to various sectarian heads grappling with that very question. The rabbi said that the absence of dogma is itself dogma, but that's a suckermaker's way out.

But the article, read while waiting for my Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich, put me to work. I pulled out a couple CDs and dialed down my bullshit detector.

Part 2: Skilled Small Voice

"All the good religions are improvisational." I wrote that; I was so proud! But then I put the needlepoint away. Of course they are; what in nature isn't? Children learning how hard to try their elders' patience. Microevolution across an archipelago. Sitting in counseling with my girlfriend, sizing each other up on a raised stage. The thin line between polyphony and discord. I don't know any better.

Intonomancy, by the No-Neck Blues Band. On the whole, a pleasantly leaden album. I've heard they've done much better, been much wilder, before they ever truly committed to the studio. From what I can tell, they come by their improvisation honestly; guerilla shows set up, the public courted. There's the usual amount of Conjured Mystery, but also a genuine belief that this is the music ancestral.

Intonomancy. Greek tonos, as in "to stretch," and -mancy, "divination by". Pretty basic idea of improvisation, right there. "Play Your Play" is getting the most play around here. It begins with drums passed and panned until you hear a canyon's heartbeat. A geriatric oboe (or something) falls in, as do half-time stabs of thumbtack piano. A dubby guitar begins rooting out the rear, projecting half-familiar, half-dreadful tableaux on the backdrop. A snare begins rapping with the drum-echoes, propelling the track into skittery paranoia as the reeds and strings trade wailing tips. We're only halfway there.

Free is never free; not in music, and not for me. Chaos had best coalesce. Order must at least haunt the slackened orbit of this faith-playing, if only to remind me that the hints of Heaven are all around. I'm not being symbolic here. It's never just about the music, you see. Otherwise, I'd deliberately let the drums alone & be the freest jazz player around.

And eventually the woven bits of "Play Your Play" are peeled and reformed, the bass-throb and wahs and wails become a slow campfire tornado, left ashen in the woods. I bought this record expecting alien religion, but this is closer to a meditative brunch with the atheists than anything else. But isn't that why they play for the al fresco set? Does not contemplation occur on the plains?

My salvation is a string of chords, a chromatic score. I'm allowed the leeway to be incredible and not profane.

Part 3: Motor City Madness (We wish to congratulate Mr. Martinez on hitting 4% of his career homeruns off of Jose Canseco's head.)

I used to check that every professional baseball player was still older than me. It was a weird comfort. Somehow, having never gotten past teeball, I relaxed in the fact that there was still time for... what? The feeling lasted until September 15, 2003, when Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks, three days younger than I was, made his debut.

But once I reconciled myself to never playing pro ball, I was freed to imagine living it. Mostly, I dreamed about exclusivity, the fraternity that develops between soldiers and play-laborers tracked by 100,000 eyes each night. Hell, I'd have to create an occasion to spray champagne on my friends, and then I could only afford a couple bottles of the pink shit; the White Sox cracked the crate three times in one month.

I imagine improvisation offers similar rewards. AMM can rest well, knowing that their 1968 performance of "Like a Cloud Hanging in the Sky?" drops me with a bad case of pleurisy every time. The album is The Crypt, and for good reason: nothing escapes. The blitz of scrapes, shrieks, and rattles unnerve like moans from the cellar. No ghosts here, only zombies &c. Over the course of 45 minutes, the architecture alters under pain of cello and piano, but they only manage to rearrange the already-cloudy funhouse mirrors. It's not a assault in the way that Twilight is, all fatalistic hang and doomy sturm. "Like a Cloud" is locust music. It's ugly music. It's a contact mic making love to a missile silo during a nuclear blizzard. It is attractive only for speaking what is posssible.

The cover of The Crypt comes from one of AMM's gig posters. Designed by Keith Rowe, it's an electronic box (bearing only a knob and the group name, it could be anything) with an empty, Pop Art speech balloon pointing at it. But what goes inside? Is it blank for the listener's imputation? Or is this a dispatch from the Wasteland? I already told you, my lungs are gone. I get the feeling (it's partly the liner notes) that any appreciation is stunted by lack of visuals, unable as I am to picture five young Englishmen trawling a cavern for every last noise-ridge . When critics compare your band to trees and metal, you get the sense that dimension and palpability factor large. I'm still in awe, regardless.

Part 4: The Gondola Man

Nearly every improvisational session features some limits (again, if not, I'd buy a saxophone only to discard it). No shit, right? Well, we can lump "channeling" under the improv banner, if "Elliott Smith's Guitar" is to be believed.

Brainwarmer is a defunct (as of last year) Portland outfit that's stained its thumbs in sundry pies: Southern Gothic, noise, twee pop. I'll let Tiffany Lee Brown tell the rest:

I'd like it to be known that our absurd little song "Elliott Smith's Guitar" was in no way ever meant to be a pisstake. Larold and I had met up with Gail at Larry Crane's Jackpot! Studios in Portland, to which Elliott was connected. Gail pointed out his old Rickenbacker in the corner, and I of course couldn't resist plugging it in. The song immediately poured out of me, with Larold happily improvising drums. We recorded it right away; Gail proclaimed it a "brainworm" of a song; and that's how we got our name. And even though I felt cheesy about being star-struck, I was honoured to be playing Elliott Smith's guitar and improvising on the piano he had played.

So there you go. Woman picks up dead man's guitar, composes impossibly pure, two-chord ode about composing an ode to said guitar, bandmates pick up the signal, name themselves after their impulses and I'm getting the pleurisy again. It's 4 AM, everyone's asleep, and I'm crying my first tears ever for my poor slain Elliott while cradling my overheating laptop. I guess something has to keep me honest.

I played Elliott Smith's guitar
I played Elliott Smith's guitar
It made me sad
I wish I had
Elliott Smith's guitar

It was a rainy day in Oregon
Everything was looking sort of miserable so
We closed it up behind the slot machine
And then we counted off 1...2...1 2 3 4!

I love Elliott Smith's guitar
I love Elliott Smith's guitar
It's a Rickenbacker
I'd go in hock for
Elliott Smith's guitar

It was a stupid day in Oregon
We were writing such lovely songs (oh yeah)
Made the sounds of crashing submarines
We hit the jackpot and we rocked out loud!

I love Elliott Smith's guitar
I love Elliott Smith's guitar
It makes me crazy
Wanna have its baby
Elliott Smith's guitar
Elliott Smith's guitar
Elliott Smith's guitar

I didn't even get to spew bullshit about Drinking Horns and Gramophones, but I've hit my bullshit limit for the day. Bye!

Monday, January 30, 2006

these things are usually false alarms

Sir or Madam:

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If you would like to review your candidate file,click here.

If your profile corresponds to our requirements, a member of our Global Talent Acquisition Team will contact you soon.

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nothing would be solved

stuff what just dawned on me:

1. Butthole Surfers' "Pepper" is a ripoff of Jim Carroll's "People Who Died".

2. Chubby Checker's "The Twist" is sung from the perspective of a seductive girl.

3. Kraftwerk didn't invent glitch-pop a year before the compact disc debuted; the crack in my compilation CD begins towards the end of "Pocket Calculator".

Whataburger's got that damn sandwich with the chicken strips, the cheese, and the barbeque sauce. So that's where I'm at.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

oh hell/punk rods

But then I read the Music Thing post about Punk Rods. Man those things are ugly. They have two strings.

I got properly silly last night. I was served dinner by a Rollergirl (Rollerwoman, more like). And I consumed no beer in the course of my two-bar jaunt, which is a new state record.

Friday, January 27, 2006

band of gold

That seems about right. I have one of those notions again. I'm tiring of finding myself drunk riding the hills; or in an IHOP at 4 AM, reading the newspaper while some kingpins are bragging about the right to tip less. Every weekend is "Small Town Saturday Night" for me, in a metro area of one million. One million. Being single's one thing, if you see your friends - any of them - more than every two months; so is having a girlfriend, or even a fuckbuddy (a lamentable term I wish my writer friend would quit using). But I seem to have loosed or let loose all ties to everything. I don't know how it happened, other than I bristle at my friends' attempts to improve me and I passively mack on every female that responds to me. Juvenile, yeah? Everyone's been real patient with me, but I don't really have much to show for myself. No book, no chances for hospitality, no life-changing advice. Not even presence, and I love presence. Nobody in my life knows what to do with me other than "It'll be all right". I'm not breaking down like Zigaboo; I don't have so much love to give, I just want to get whiny for a post and make opaque declarations. Get blurry in some waveform sea. Hang out with people. That sort of thing. Ghosts? I'm a wisp. I'm the woman in "Honey Hush".

Tonight I get a haircut, I shave, I drink my self-pity shit into a little mote of haunthood, and tomorrow I start looking at apartments and jobs. In other cities. Maybe I'll get a Myspace page haha lolz.

Oh, and here's a killer b-side from some of the Midwest's finest. So we can keep things on track.

But everyone have a safe weekend. Be back on Monday.

this is a great album cover

Ray Barretto - Que Viva La Musica

Thursday, January 26, 2006

MPs condemn communist-era crimes

Goran Lindblad, an MP of the conservative Swedish Moderate Party and leading voice behind the resolution, told the BBC that "the purpose is to give moral restitution to those victims who suffered under communist regimes".

He said: "It's also very important to have an awareness campaign, so people will never repeat this mistake.

"If you go to a regular school in my country, for example, and ask the children, they don't know anything about the Berlin Wall."

Tougher proposals calling for official government condemnations of communist crimes and fresh investigations into such crimes failed to win enough support.


In other news, I'm considering a fictional blog to serve as a corollary to this one. But I have no idea where to begin. I'm pleased, though, with the concept. I stole it from my brother.

Take Aim for Explosive Earnings!!

I could do my laundry at my apartment complex, but the washers have small stomachs and the unit itself's got no heating. Lame.

So I go to the SpinCycle, a washatería (not pictured) across the way from the Popeye's. $4.50 for a five-basket wash, and there's a couple TVs embedded in the folding stations. Plus they've got pinball.

Terminator II pinball. The first pinball machine with a user-activated cannon. Plus, you get to cram orbs into Robert Patrick's metallurgic maw. A triumph all around.

There was a period where I couldn't get through three or four games without the pinballs getting jammed in the T1000 skull, refusing to emerge. Every 30 seconds or so, a large THOK would emerge from the machine, and I'd have to step away in shame. Whoever's been maintaining it, though, has given it the opposite problem: now it drops balls like John Connor's puberty. I swear, I run two ramps nowadays and the fake-Arnold gleefully intones multiball and I feel like Tommy except I'm still at 300,000.

I dunno. It's for the kids, anyway. Every time I play, at least one child's standing on the Cruisin' USA seat and leaning over to catch the collisions. Sometimes it's a couple niños, and they're pushing on my left flipper hand. On Monday, it was a three-year-old girl who'd decided I ain't mean enough, so she's gotta take a button. While her brothers were content to fog the cabinet glass, she moved me aside, first to the left, and finally away completely, until this little girl looks Christlike, trying intently to hug the hell out of that machine. I had to stop and laugh. After a few seconds of this (and I wasn't too worried about losses, since I always bring too many laundry quarters, plus I'd mystically just been awarded a multiball) she moved on to the plunger (designed like a gun, which means every game in the laundromat except Cruisin' involves the simulation of live ammunition - this is why I don't play Cruisin'). I was then free to stand awkwardly and flip stuff around until her mom corraled the whole gang back toward the dryers.

Anyway, it's either that or the Noche de Película on Univision. I try watching, I really do, but the only thing that really piqued my interest was a movie that (maybe) starred Los Tigres, but their girls kept spurning them and taking them back in efficient sequence, so I pretended I was reading a Brecht introduction instead.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

An amusing Joke.

"You probably wouldn't think to seek a hip-hop education from a member of Interpol, but you'd be smart if you did."

Image Hosted by
photo: Tricia Romano

"This is 2 Live Crew," said [Paul] Banks, whose all-time fave is Slick Rick, and helpfully pointed out Wu-Tang and Trick Daddy records. (Yes, I am really that bad.) Moreno cheerily added, "This is the only night where you won't hear Franz Ferdinand at this bar!" Later he played songs that can only be described as Junior High School Dance Soundtrack, 1991: Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It," Bell Biv Devoe's "Poison," and Naughty by Nature's "O.P.P."

Meanwhile, I'm headed to College Station for a couple errands, maybe find a cure for my sa·ty·ri·a·sis. Or get some professor references.

text, criticism, and notes (daedology)

Lessing, said Stephen, should not have taken a group of statues to write of. The art, being inferior, does not present the forms I spoke of distinguished clearly from one another. Even in literature, the highest and most spiritual art, the forms are often confused. The lyrical form is in fact the simplest verbal vesture of an instant of emotion, a rhythmical cry such as ages ago cheered on the man who pulled at the oar or dragged stones up a slope. He who utters it is more conscious of the instant of emotion that of himself as feeling emotion. The simplest epical form is seen emerging out of lyrical literature when the artist prolongs and broods upon himself as the centre of an epical event and this form progresses till the centre of emotional gravity is equidistant from the artist and from others. The narrative is no longer purely personal. The personality of the artist passes into the narration itself, flowing round and round the persons and the action like a vital sea.


The dramatic form is reached when the vitality which has flowed and eddied round each person fills every person with such vital force that he or she assumes a proper and intangible esthetic life. The personality of the artist, at first a cry or a cadence or a mood and then a fluent and lambent narrative, finally refines itself out of existence, impersonalises itself, so to speak.


The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

-Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

what does "almost exclusively" mean

Each Ghostface Killah doll includes:

* Real 14 karat gold chain
* Real GFK Robe
* Gold Chalice with Swarovski crystals
* Each doll will include a Ghostface Killah Doll mixtape dy a world-famous DJ tba
* Real 14 karat gold avenging eagle accessory (extra)
* Each collector will have a 1 in 500 chance to spend a day with Ghostface Killah himself
* Each Doll will come in a limited edition gold sealed box
* Ghostface Killah is fully involved in all aspects of the project from manufacturing to promotion
* Each Doll speaks original recordings of Ghostface Killah catch-phrases

I. Want. It.

the styyyyyycaaaa-KRAKOW

Dom Passantino's giv'n his blessing to Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2 AM)"! Fuck, I can't wait 'til I get my own radio station. What a good damn song. If you don't know, now you know.

I just finished Stycast No. 5, and here's the tracklist:

Baby Huey and the Babysitters, "Mighty Mighty"
Masters of Soul, "I Hate You"
Hal Ketchum, "Small Town Saturday Night"
Ricochet, "Seven Bridges' Road"
Alabama, "High Cotton"
Bob Brozman and Papua New Guinea Stringbands, "Town Kavieng"
Toots and the Maytals, "Bla-Bla-Bla"
Slimm Calhoun with Andre 3000, "It's OK"
Garnet Mimms, "Tell Me Baby"
The Falcons, "I Found a Love"
The Ronettes, "You Came, You Saw, You Conquered"
Jennifer Lopez, "Get Right"

As a principle, I hate people who say what I'm about to, but I think I've got sufficiently eclectic taste, in that I'll take you to Thailand for some sloppy derivative death metal and I'll bring you back to Brooklyn, where the ghost(writer) of Jenny Lopez pays the tab and calls the shots. I love me the deep soul, but I can't deny the breadbasket nourishment of Alabama.

I'll stop now. It was a beer and bourbon night. You have no idea how long it really took to type this post.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Piece of Wood, Sort Of.

Also, a fascinating article in the San Francisco Chronicle about underground restaurants. If I could cook, I would totally host an illegal restaurant. I'd probably have to de-ash the balcony.

In six months, Kevin and Jeff & Matt are moving to a new condo and apartment, repectively. This has nothing to do with death-fear or hauntology or narrative reliability, but everything to do with shelter and sustenance.

I gotta do a Stycast tonight. I love you all, in my own megalomaniacal way.

The Thang (Part 2)

You can't be a ghost with an obvious motive, can you?

I know I post a lot; it's what makes me great.

it's a'ight girl, it's ok

Tell 'em 'bout what this girl told me...

She said I love my man-man-man-man
We got our ups and downs and I'll get lonely and-and-and-and
Wanna go-go to someone who might understand-stand-stand-stand
How to make a girl feel like Alice in Wonderland-Wonderland-Wonderland-
Wonderin' if she can't come home with guilt on her mind
Really, all she truly wants to know is that she still fine
As the day he met 'er, pet 'er, tell 'er for another feller
Pet her kitten, sit-sittin', chit-chittin', spit-spittin'

believing in yourself and following your dream

There's a new Singles Jukebox, although most of the people who read this blog are probably contributors. Do I have to record my a capella songs on cassette while I drive to and from work, then lace them and degrade them until they have the must of circular history?

Do I?

a tragedy, a plea for mix CDs....

Who wants to help her? I just sent my e-mail.

they reminisce over K.O.B.E.

The recentest Pop77 mix is typically high-qual, but I saved it just so I could hear Gomez' "ZYX" again. The song's like a mentor. Let me get weird: an old friend.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

let's wear it on our face

And she was all "hey i went to Wal-Mart last night and smelled his deodorant just for the memories it triggers" and i'm like hey i'm trying to be a pirate a pirate.

shoup advertises for traveling companions

I'll try to clear this out in this post.

Rascal Flatts, "Fast Cars and Freedom"

I'm planning a Pop Playground article - with no set date for completion - titled "In Defense of Banality". In it, I'm going to argue that I'm twenty years ahead of my time. Alternately, that songs like this deserve acknowledgement despite their limitations, because of their artful fulfillment of a service. I've not yet found the right, beguiling text yet, but here's my gist: one's life isn't all abstract thought or postrock coitus or debutante balls in the k-hole. There's a need for everyday shit rendered artfully; barring that, then gracefully.

The opposite of ecstasy is not despair; both are (melioratively) self-centered. Ecstasy's true antipode is, I think, banality. Rascal Flatts recorded one of the best singles of 2005, all devoted to how beautiful the narrator's wife is, how her essence is undimmed by time. The song itself is servicable modern country; all the stretch and ache is in the chord changes, the glossy lead guitar, the ride cymbal. "I see a dust trail following an old red Nova/Baby blue eyes, your head on my shoulder/Wait, baby, don't move! Right there it is/A t-shirt hanging off a dogwood branch/The river was cold but we gave love a chance..."

Back up. Those lines, again, are "A t-shirt hanging off a dogwood branch/The river was cold but we gave love a chance." Here, in the much-maligned heart of corporate country, is a perfect songwriter's couplet: evocative without syrup, resonant and suggestive. Did you see the words "dance" or "romance" anywhere? No, you didn't. And they top themselves: "You don't look a day over fast cars and freedom/That sunset, riverbank, first-time feeling." The use of near-rhyme in this song is an oasis. It's a beefed-up "Maybe I'm Amazed," and it's a necessary balance to too many perfect sounds forever. It's a perfect fucking single, yawning, expansive, and piercing.

Will, I'm sorry I never called you again.

Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Natural Black Inventions: Roots Strata/The Inflated Tear/I Talk With the Spirits

I wouldn't say I'm starting to 'get' jazz, although I wish I could. I am, however and after years of owning only A Love Supreme and Kind of Blue, starting to take to it. Mr. Kirk could play three reed instruments at once, delivering a conversation in the process. The brand of jazz on these records is gently resolute, the best kind of human. Roots Strata is a set of sketches reflecting Kirk's exploration of his African heritage. I Talk with the Spirits is an engaging and earthy spirituality, snatching the flute back from the wastes of sentimentality. The Inflated Tear pairs the versatility and confidence of Ch. Mingus with the insouciance of a little boy flexing a bicep. Does this sound stupid or vague? I'm working on it. 2006 is gonna be awesome.

Höömii and Urtin Duu (The Folk Music Traditions 1)

Released on JVC Japan in 1992, it's a chronicle of traditional Mongolian music. The real show is the airy, transcendant singing. Both men and women front these songs, and the style lends itself equally well to each gender. There's a little bit of throat singing, I believe, for the curious, but any fan of desert transcendentalism may want to hear this.

Coven, "McDonaldland Massacre"/Blind Alfred Reed, "Why Do You Bob Your Hair, Girls?"

Jose burned me a copy of Coven's Blessed in the Black, which held this, the funniest song ever. A close second may be Mr. Reed's anti-flapper screed, if only because it's suddenly relevant these days.

Robert Johnson, "From Four Till Late"/Stiv Bators, "The Last Year"

Michael, our campus station emgineer, was quite taken by the BBC's 'The Power of Nightmares,' going so far as including a link on the station's homepage telling us where to download it. One of the central premises of this program - I loved it because I thought I was watching a Don DeLillo novel - is that modern neoconservatism arose out of powerful Americans' dismay that in a liberal, postwar society, the nation lacked a uniting myth around which disparate groups of citizens could rally. Thus, the 'good vs. evil' brinksmanship theory was born.

Similarly, music is always in need of a good myth. Thus the rise of renaissance crack slingers; the backcountry charm of the folkies; and the current vogue for collectives, which coalesce, shed members, and add them, seemingly without a First Cause. It's more fun to think of Animal Collective as, well, just that: a ragged troupe mystically attuned to the pangs and seasons of nature (and, these days, adolescence). But the rise of DIY culture meant that, for the first time since the dawn of grooved shellac, anyone could make music; there was no great origin story or tale of discovery required. Yet the myths lived on: Daniel Johnston (church kid savant writing twisted Beatles songs in the basement), Fugazi (socialist collective, lives without running water), Jandek (yeah). M.I.A would fit into this.

Of course, there's nothing really wrong about that; Daniel Johnston's childhood is very relevant to the music he makes; even if you want to divorce it from context, it's "indie," so all the quirks beg you back to the creator. We love stories; we love mysticism; we want to see ghosts, if only to read their lips. I apparently love semicolons.

But still, where are the good myths these days? Have we finally choked out biography with a glut of exchanged blog posts and press releases? If I were told that Shaun Ryder made a pact with Satan in the Mancunian midnight, I'd chalk it up to misguided PR. But there's a part of me that will wonderwhat Robert Johnson was up to in Clarksdale, Mississippi. We place so much emotional and spiritual truck in our music, and it follows that we'd transfer some of it to its creators. Blues as good as "From Four Till Late" had to've been channeled, right?

According to legend, Stiv Bators couldn't feel pain as the rest of us do, and thus shook himself off after being struck by that Parisian car. He died in his sleep of internal bleeding; 1990 isn't a very mythical year, but there it is. I've always wanted to write a novel in which one of the principals can't feel pain. I think it's been done, but Stiv deserves the treatment all the same. He died without a doctor; on Robert Johnson's death certificate, his cause of death is listed, simply, as "No Doctor," from which I believe a certain Chicago rock combo got its name. Anyway, "The Last Year" would function well under this mythos. It was the lead-off single from 1980's Disconnected - the reissue of which I picked up last year - and he boldly and brightly predicted his impending death. He was off by a decade. But we'll let the power of legend sort that out.

The Cows, "One O'Clock High"

Sometimes the Cows would fuck up and write a perfect song. "One O'Clock High" is a tightly-wound cowpunk tale about a tightly-wound guy who's about to pick up his stripper girlfriend. He hates what she does, but gets a weird pride from seeing her at work, breaking the hearts of other deadbeats. It's better than that, actually, particularly when Shannon drawls, "She makes my asshole pucker, she makes my collar waaaaaurhm..."

The Incredible String Band, "First Girl I Ever Loved"

Mike (still reading? I'm sorry), this is largely why I prefer 5000 Spirits to The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter. I love this pussy, non-magickal song about a ramblin' man and his settled redhead ex. It's wistful, wise, and were it not for the folk pedigree, would reside firmly in the category of Wonderful Banality.


You don't need to hear any more. I forgot to mention that the last time I was in Waterloo, a woman was buying Iron Maiden vinyl for her son. He had been seriously injured in a car accident, and she was hoping to coax him from his coma with some of his favorite music, including (I peeked while she was talking to the cashier) Powerslave and Live After Death.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You

Oh hell. And salute to Wilson Pickett, y'all; he never really found the song that suited him, but that voice was beyond studios and crossover formats. And now Mr. Pickett is too.

a highway lay with none of the lip

I'm not declaring a formal "discovered/rediscovered" series yet; no one's asking, and I want to talk about my last day temping. I get all subdued in the face of the simplest things. Antonio Davis striding through a crowd to check on his wife almost made me cry. I've got a bath coming up. That's pretty cool.

Tonight was all about shaking hands and admitting failure. A few co-workers organized a Chinese buffet lunch trip; the good news was I didn't pay for myself (thanks, Jabe). The bad - or, rather, lightly perplexing - news was I paid both for Naree and Lawrence, who couldn't make it due to family errands but asked for a to-go order. So I scooped some lo mein, beef, kung pao, and a couple egg rolls into a styrofoam container. He had about five minutes to eat, and I don't think he realized I had to pay for a whole 'nother buffet.

Work was interminable; I only stayed because Lawrence promised me a toast. On my way out Naree asked for my cell number (how do the deaf conduct phone conversations? I honestly don't know, but it looks like I'll find out soon) and Nate (ponytail, insane metabolism coupled with insaner hunger, potential Norwegian internet girlfriend, and a swordmaking business on weekends) said it was "an honor and a privilege" working with me, and that I'd taught him a lot of things. Our handshake revealed how large his hands really were.

We all filed through the metal detector, and I found Lawrence and Jabe in the parking lot. Lawrence was cradling a bottle of Hennessy and a bottle of Coke. "You didn't bring a cup?" he chided. I fished an old movie theater cup from my backseat (it really was a Coca-Cola summer, come to think of it) and he filled it. He drank his mixed with the soda. I gave Jabe a draught (Lawrence gave me like three shots - this is what he does), and we shot shit for a short while. Jabe left for his ride, and Lawrence broke down some drunk driving/shot-buying stories for me. I'll sum them for you: the boyfriend was totally cool, and the sidewalk was double-wide, so he thought it was a road.

But yeah, it ended up just me and Lawrence, pulling sips of 'yac and ragging on each other 'til the parking lot was empty. Perfect ending. I drove tipsy with the radio (the real radio, the Destiny's Child/Gavin DeGraw shit, none of that CD nonsense), got a 4 AM vegetarian dinner (read the book of Daniel), and accidentally kicked my waitress in the shin as I got up to leave. Juicy J would not approve. Thank God she'd already seen the tip.

So that was my night. Saturday's still gonna be an all-time crusher, but hopefully I can get out of town Friday and/or Sunday and occupy my mind. Spoon had it right: everything hits at once, but I can barely feel any of it. I get megalomaniacal when I'm solo drunk or solo content, and Lawrence's gift of the former threaded seamlessly into the latter. I may be solo for a loooooong fuckin' time; I promise I'll get the spotlight on the songs next post.

now for scraps:

Pity the poor bassline on "Love to Love You Baby". Who remembers you? I didn't. I swear this song opens up just like Glenn Branca's "The Spectacular Commodity". It could be, of course, a mimicry of last night's surprise. It's just as well; I've got the Batman bubble bath and Alma Mater Plus on iTunes*.

*I was all set to rip on Floetry's taste based on a scan of their guest iTunes** playlist, but Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" reminds Marsha of her family. She says she cries when she hears the intro.

**It's too much work taking the laptop to the edge of the bathroom, and water tends to seep into the carpeting. I think it'll be an Otis Redding bath for me. You're welcome, by the way, for the specificity.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

shoup drags down the family crest

Everyone at work who sees my class ring asks me why I'm here, toting boxes in a warehouse. And after tomorrow, I no longer have to denigrate the earning power of an English degree. Well. Maybe I will, but to a new cast. I'm now earnestly in the hunt for stable work. But I will miss everyone, and I will miss leaving work at night's apogee. No one on either of two possible highways home. I usually drive through downtown, depending on the disc at hand. I also eat too much fast food (the Wendy's by my place is open 'til 4).

So my thoughts turn to the future, of course. To a Saturday conversation I'm getting ill about, in preparation, and to dental benefits and a bunch of people my age in a sports bar, eating nuts and shitting each other not. Something like that. Last week I drove Naree to CiCi's (she bought lunch as repayment). On the ride back to work, I finally decided to turn up the stereo, as she's deaf. For some reason, it felt rude to do it earlier, but she asked me why the faceplate was removed (hint: one time, a guy's car got stolen from the Dell lot and it was found later ON FIRE), so I slotted an old mix.

So here I am, listening to Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," and it's uncomfortably silent for me, and she's looking out her window, and I start singing. Like, softly and warbly first, then gradually with a bit more confidence. I have no idea what she made of it. Perhaps she thinks I sing in front of everyone. I don't know if she saw it. Because she's my first deaf acquaintance, I wondered if the repetitive vibrations of pop annoyed her. Should I have brought Congotronics? And so forth. O! my ignorance. We're going for one final lunch tomorrow. I've decided I'm buying.

Now ignore those three paragraphs; due to Swygart, I am going to talk about the recent past. The music I discovered or rediscovered this year, which, unfortunately, cannot be sorted into weightable lists. If you've already bailed out, or wish I'd just zipped a mix, you can leeeeeeeave...

The Big Boys

Something disgusting was involved here, as I found both halves of the Touch and Go retrrospective Skinny Elvis/Fat Elvis a week before frontman Randy "Biscuit" Turner passed away in his Austin home. I knew of the Boys, and had heard enough music to validate some of the outlaw-musician glow with which we in Austin love to drape upon ourselves. The comps, though, fleshed everything out.

In a hardcore scene alternately defined by East Coast asceticism and West Coast ruffneckery, Austin (and, by synedochal extension, Texas) was a city of refuge. The Dicks and Big Boys both called my hometown home (as did gleeful provocateurs Millions of Dead Cops, but that's something else); both bands had openly gay members, producing music known for its clenchfist macho vibe. "Punk" indeed. To that, Big Boys added funk, which looks awful in print; really, though, it just involves swinging basslines, a backbeat, and a pre-Svenonian tendency toward crowd invocation. "Spit" starts off with uptight funk, then falls into a handclap-pinned breakdown in which Biscuit upbraids club owners for using bands to sell weak liquor to patrons. Big Boys were probably the only punks covering "Hollywood Swinging" in the Eighties. Still may be.

Hank Williams, "Kaw-Liga"/The Carter Family, "Answer to Weeping Willow"

This wasn't the year I delved into this genre, or downloaded the complete discography of that vocal group. No, as always, I thought scattershot. I got a Hank Williams greatest hits comp in a gas station, shortly before moving back to Austin. Of all the fearsome tunes he's penned (and heavens, he was a Tin Pan Monster), the one I found irresistable was a vocative penned to a cigar-store Indian. The guitar and bass creep while Ol' Hank sings in a minor way about Kaw-Liga and his inability to woo a comely maiden. It's a neat metaphor for the silent-man archetype; Hank refuses to pick sides, blaming the chief both because of his nature (a heart "made of knotty pine") and his stubbornness. The chorus is an abrupt shift the major; Hank's licking his chops, teasing the Red Man who "never got a kiss".

The Carter Family; well, knowing that to ignore them is to let large portions of the American musical tree fall rotted, I got a stopgap comp. "Answer to Weeping Willow" got me nearly all the way home from my girlfriend's one day. I swear I listened to it twenty times in a row. Just a rueful lament from an unfaithful lover. From the first, each verse grabs like a supplicant. "God, shall I ever get forgiveness/For the deeds that I have done?/And meet up yonder her sweet charming/For I know she bids me come." Who writes like this anymore? Oldham? When the Carter ladies join for the chorus, it's dread magic, as A.P. leads everyone in wishing for a land beyond the sea. What's odd is I can't summon ghosts from this; it's undeniably of a different era (one in which a few thousand people would buy a record about dead lovers and their guilt-wracked survivors), and while the narrative has a quaint, Protestant spark to it, the whole is too stark for me to consider relegation. This is music for me. To my great shame, I was unable, in 2005, to slake my love for the human voice.

Also, this song draws psychic parallels to one of my favorite childhood hymns: "For Those Tears I Died (Come to the Water)," written by the self-dubbed Mother of Contemporary Christian Music, a lesbian minister with a questionable conversion narrative.

Glenn Branca, The Ascension

Forget what I just said about the human voice. Sometimes the human asshole can speak just as loud.

I'm referring, of course, to NYC's favorite glammongers, Sonic Youth, whose Lee Ranaldo contributed untinctable guitar assault to The Ascension, as well as you-had-to-be-there-but-guess-what-you-weren't liners to the '03 reissue. But like everything SY does, from coattailing the avant garde hype machine to Murray Street power ballads to Kim Gordon's not looking at me while signing my copy of Bad Moon Rising at an in-store, they're always at least half right.

It helps that Glenn Branca loves him some urban terror. If The Ascension were to soundtrack a film scene, it would be the Ronin of zombie escapes. Every zombie, by the way, would be costumed Mike Powell-terrifying. Four guitars, tuned to Unknown Pleasures, hacking their dread way through the 'me' and 'we' of punk rock; in fact, avoiding objects near-entirely in favor of viscera. Although there are nods, and there is daybreak: "Light Field (In Consonance)" adopts the gallop of Romanticism. At the nine minute mark of "The Spectacular Commodity," all the malice thus earned drops into a sea of genuine uplift, as Television drops by to co-write the 2016 Olympic anthem. The closing title track eschews riffs for guitar sear, all contrails circling a dark Earth. It'd be ambient if 1) it didn't gut you so much and 2) the band didn't commence a landstrike midway through.

All this reminds me how much I hate Explosions in the Sky, and how ambivalent I am toward Sonic Youth, a genuinely good band whose name graces the t-shirt I am typing in. To be fair, though, I was wearing a tie as a belt today, too.

There is more, but I'm delaying bedtime and I need sleep to be judicious in my writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

this venue gives me migraines

Lie Bot, what is the saddest thing?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

mighty mighty

The best sentences in English start with "As a multi-ethnic woman of color..."

And what once was

Image Hosted by

is now

Image Hosted by

and soon I'll be wearing a t-shirt. This is America!!!!!!!

It seems to me that the Australian charts are as barren as the hearth of Fair Matilda herself. Humiliated after getting my junk in a day late for the US/UK exchange, I made amends this go-round. I think I got a bit "ia ia Chthulu fhtagn" with the Veronicas, ah well. The Will Young song was a corker - I gave it an 8 or 9 - and the video (to which the link decamps you) is quite great, in a fascist manner. I didn't care for "Switch It On". I usually end up falling for the ballads. What do you want from me? Maybe we can trade?

Monday, January 16, 2006

ask me about my close call tomorrow

I am still waiting.

grand canyon

EHRLICHMAN: Hot pants.

NIXON: Jesus Christ.

Haha, we're bouncing back from who I didn't touch and what I didn't eat (or is it the other way around?) and instead, I bring you the fucking abyss.

In 11th grade, I ran with the Weezer nerds. Whereas I was only in AP Comp Sci I for the skills credit, Oliver, Minix, and Chad were cracking passwords in III. Those guys were absolute sweeties, unflinchingly loyal and goofy as hell. We all skipped school (just a period or two each. like I said: nerds, all of us) the last week to buy the Green Album. I drove around Spicewood Springs, blasting fresh processed slabs of Tin Pan Alley-derived plasticene. I may have gotten pancakes. The days were that good.

Three days later, my mousetrap car partner swept Mr. Balmer's physics classroom for an A on the project. We could do distance. We could do speed. The third car was, if I recall, a fixed-distance affair, and we finally succumbed to the co-effiecients and variables involved. My partner told me a week after school about his impromptu extra credit. I still beat him in the final ranking by a spot. I wasn't supposed to care about such things. Is what I told myself.

Anyway! I still have, in my immediate possession, a CD recorded by these friends and released (for a fee) by They dubbed themselves "Nine Inch Nose Hairs". "This is," Matt intoned, "The Song of the Jungle". Everyone screamed for thirty seconds. One song involved a mic trodden by a New Balance for a full minute. We read a lot of Penny Arcade and watched Clerks: The Animated Series. I listened to Gomez and Ben Folds Five and Brainwash Projects and dreamed of that one dance with Sara Manning (another dumb little story, another night).

Mike Macharyas sings a celebrity's name over and over into his computer, and according to iTunes, his fans buy Ultramarine and FSOL albums. "Katie Holmes" gets the dread-organ treatment, "Brian Eno" is, puzzlingly enough, closer to the Transformers soundtrack. "Usher" happened when KMFDM took bad acid at a screening of Nosferatu. Don't give him your money; preview the songs on iTunes and ask yourself if a little more meritocracy couldn't hurt music. For every Partch, there's an Erin Smogor.

You want to talk banal, baby? What's your favorite 69 Love Songs disc? Disc 2. What's the best Neutral Milk Hotel song? "Ghost". The best sellout ever? Shostakovich. Biggest major-label soul mindmelt? Isaac Hayes' "Walk On By".

Next week we'll talk No Neck Blues Band and Gandalf the Grey.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

ctrl+t (if i'm in luck, i might get picked up)

When you're in Austin, out of state guests, I'll take you to End of an Ear. It's cute. Went there tonight and snagged NNCK's Intonomacy while admitting my ignorance to the clerk. He didn't care, he just loves that band. Good guy.

Sixty percent became one hundred last night. Went to the "Soul Happening" Waxploitation deal at the Continental Club. The DJs were uniformly excellent. Had you taken out the chairs, it might've been redolent of a middle-class Northern Soul shindig. Lots of deep soul, funk with a minimum of flutes. About 5 percent black. I'm being generous there, by lumping in the El Michels Affair bass player and this one Asian dude. The Affair itself (half Daptones and half Antibalas) was merely decent, shuffling through a bunch of funkstrumentals with the benefit of neither vocalist nor hypeman. No matter, I got my superfecta: Jager, beer, and four mixed drinks of two types.

I put myself in a bad situation by showing up, though, and I probably won't be making that mistake again. Got home at 2 and decided to rent a movie. Instead, I drove halfway to San Antonio armed with a mix I'd burned five minutes before. I got back around five, half-ate a meal at Star Seeds just because I didn't want to go home, and finally surrendered to sleep.

On the plus side, my room looks comparatively wonderful. I, though, am an ass, and over the last two weekends I've drunk some shit and learned a lot more. I'm going deep into some records tonight.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

At the dark end of the street:
that's where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don't belong
Living in darkness, to hide our wrong

You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me

I know time is gonna take its toll
We have to pay for the love we stole
It's a sin and we know it's wrong
Oh, but our love keeps going on strong

Steal away to the dark end of the street

They gonna find us, they gonna find us
They gonna find us, o!, someday

You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me

And when the daylight hour comes around
And by chance we're both downtown
If we should meet, just walk on by
Oh, darling, please don't cry

Tonight we'll meet at the dark end of the street

dinner mirrors

Tom, take a good look at the links at right of your article. More than half are Pitchfork staffers and superfans like Stylus and Chris Nelson. Who let you all into the Village Voice? I find myself asking, "Could this once-relevant bastion of literate music criticism matter less in 2005/6?" It's a shocking and disheartening thing, seeing scenester flakes play with its reputation, writing about the reaction to's ridiculous "Top 50."

It may pain you to consider it, but the fact is many literate people consider bullsh*t like Clipse to be embarrassing and false. And while they may not be expressing this in terms florid enough for your approval, the dope, guns and f***ing in the streets arm of hip-hop reeks of the worst unsubstantiated bravado and meaningless "rebel" cool, things only a thirteen year-old could find intimidating or impressive.

[And Tom, what are even saying in that penultimate paragraph? "If you don't have anything overeducated to say, don't say anything at all?" You don't have to take "simple" criticism seriously? Wake up from the liberal-arts dream, dude. This is New York City. And your list sucks.]

That you and your gaggle of well-fed pals are so incapable of calling a duck a duck is only evidence of a sad, totally unexamined (and frankly racist) effort to prop up laughable hip-hop loudmouths as poets, to transitively transcend your sheltered insecurity by basking in their (completely phony) overconfidence and "hard" image. Cocaine! Holy s***!

You can't king-make a jester like Jeezy. Yours and so many of your peers' fantasies of and condescension toward nonsense like "trap-hop" absolutely jumps from the page. And apparently you don't even know it, can't see it, and will continue to make fools of yourselves, a la Nick Sylvester's increasingly-used and outrageously racist Amos n' Andy voice (see Pitchfork singles list entry #16).

Posted by: Chris Ott at December 29, 2005 10:36 AM

Here's some premises, Southall-stylee:

1) Pitchfork caught some flak for its inclusion of certain hip-hop albums in its year-end top 50, most notably Cam'ron at number 9.

2) Stylus got some comments for comparable choices.

3) Mostly, though, it was the girlpop that pissed people off.

4) Tom Breihan says, "Here's the thing: pop music, as it exists in 2005, is basically black music, and it has been for some time."

5) I think if Tom Breihan heard Tim McGraw's "Back When", he'd rightly freak out.

6) The kids who trek to Pitchfork, or Stylus, or what have you, by and large have little use for Top 40 radio.

7) These kids have also heard a lot of Top 40 radio.

8) 85% of Top 40 Radio is baseless and void of excitement, and that other 15% is not exclusively rap's domain.

9) These kids then make certain assumptions about pop, assumptions reinforced through years of passive listening and observation of a culture of disposability.

10) Why don't record labels spend more money digging up gems from the vaults and repackaging them? They've probably got the publishing; why not land some Eugene McDaniels on a couple soundtracks and see if he jigsaws into a few new canons? How about a Columbia Records Northern Soul-type comp? What of all those hoary folk singers? You don't think Shirley Collins could appeal to a few new people?

11) Rap = hip-hop = pop to these kids, and Stylus knows what can happen when pop is praised.

12) Metal and drone, now, the kids may not've heard that, but the general feeling is that these are Artists making serious Works (too serious, if you asked most). They give that kind of stuff a pass, at most swiping at it with an "it's too intense/abrasive/minimal/bombastic/Satanist for me".

13) The only way KC and the Sunshine Band's "Sound Your Funky Horn" could sound any more brilliant is if you heard a guy getting shot in the back of the studio.

14) Tom Breihan admits that "I certainly often have trouble dealing with the relentless misogyny/violence/acquisitiveness" of much commercial hip-hop.

15) Tom Breihan really likes hip-hop.

16) He goes on to bemoan the lack of "thoughtful debate on the relative merits and demerits of rap as it exists now. It's all outright dismissal."

17) He was referring to the comments in a blog.

18) He was referring to the comments in a blog.

19) Yeah.

20) Also, no one seems to have given a fuck that Beanie Sigel made the Pitchfork list.

21) Beanie Sigel doesn't hit the Top 40 unless Jay's got a spare sixteen.

22) Dipset has released some dumb-ass pop singles. People have heard them. They make Cam'ron look bad.

23) Cam'ron also looked bad when he said "old man, go on'n tell 'em" about fucking Otis Redding.

24) Daryl Hall released an album produced by Robert Fripp, and no one cares.

25) Stylus was somewhat lambasted for "Since U Been Gone" being our number 1 single of 2005. Three 6 Mafia, at number 2, got off pretty damn easily.

26) Lists of albums and songs cannot have haters. They can have semi-anonymous snipers.

27) When your average self-identifying "indie kid" sees a commercial hip-hop record, he associates it with pop. He associates it with misogyny, homophobia, and illicit narcotics. Not the white recreational kind. He reads prose about trapping, and wannabe criminals bringing the same recycled, dreary reality to stark sonic life, and notes an artificial familiarity between (largely) white, privileged writers and subjects who're in another motivational/referential world. Mostly, though, he sees pop. And pop, he knows, is supposed to be bad. There may be just as many murders on a Nick Cave album, but he's gonna get the benefit of the doubt, the mercy of irony and roleplay. Why doesn't the more dealer-centric hip-hop get that kind of love? Probably because it comes across as unabashedly sincere and deathly serious. Also, it's pop. Critical theory doesn't apply. Is what you'll hear, mind you.

28) Next year, try slapping a Girls Aloud record at number 7 and see if the comment boxes erupt with rational discourse on the fourth wave of feminism and the dissolution of narrative reliability.

from CityPages

This week's poll!
The new season of American Idol starts January 17. Why will you watch?

O Gets me two credits in my music criticism class at MusicTech
O Listening to barrage of insults delivered in a British accent reminds me of my days doing Benny Hill's laundry
O Spoiler Alert: On-camera suicide in episode four
O To see if I looked as stupid as Simon made me feel
O Because someone duct-taped me to a chair and fastened my eyelids open

Ballet Deviare

There be ballet set to metal. Well-written article; you can visualize the guy squirming as the theater lights dim ("Ballerinas and death vox, should I have worn a suit?"). Don't make me choose a position on this.

Ballet Deviare

Friday, January 13, 2006

sorry about the short story

Mystikal gets year on tax charges. This, on top of the six years for sexual battery. When he gets out, his flow is gonna be unintelligible.

There's a sixty percent chance I'll be at the Continental Club tomorrow to check out some Waxploitation DJs and the El Michaels Affair. A night of deep soul, funk, and other music to which I have no business trying to dance. But I'll do it anyway! I'll do it by myself if I have to, I suppose. The South isn't as Dirty as you've been led to believe, y'all.

I don't know why, but the last three months or so have been a Black-inspired affair. There was a day when I found myself walking out of a record store with three jazz records and a Pete Rock/CL Smooth CD. And I was unconscious of this the whole time I was in the store. I walked out and said, "Hey, post-bop and the men who sampled them!" I don't know if this is my lateral step into adulthood, some forsaking of indie (foreign words get italics) for musics that possess poise and/or sophistication. I'm dancing more, but that's not for you to truly know.

But as I tick off the records I've bought, I'm starting to wonder if I'm heading toward some new approach toward music appreciation. And I'm wondering if I'm fetishizing the past. I tend to shrug off current music with intermittent exceptions, but without Soulseek and a steady stream of promos (o! college radio), maybe that's just the standard pose. Toots and the Maytals, Rufus Thomas, Miles Davis, Big Joe Turner, Sun Ra, Budos Band, Jimmy James, 70s Texas funk, Mamie Smith, the Soul Children, Desmond Dekker, Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Maybe the past (Budos excepted) is just easier to purchase. At some point, I may need to reconcile myself to the fact that the past already has a large backlog of words, and my pursuit of musicology as a combination of death-terror and emotional distention will need an infusion of new tones.

Also, I know nothing about techno.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jimmy James + Vagabonds

"God, look at her."
"Wait. Wait."
"She's not looking now."
"See, this is why it's good to be attached. I'd be killing myself over her otherwise."
"Her, or, like, some sea-mother archetype?"
"No girls stock groceries. Not overnight, anyways."
And he was right. She was setting toasters on a shelf. I swabbed my eyes with a thumb and middle finger.
"Is it the belt? Are you hot for the belt?"
"Fuck you." Then, "It's the jeans."
"It's Texas. Everyone wears jeans."
But he was right again. If anything - and as queer as this sounds - the jeans were wearing her. She herself was an adroit accesory, as tacit as the streaks and the bowling shoes. She didn't need him. I didn't know he got off on that. Lust is best unshared.

We dicked around the Nature's Harvest aisles, marveling at the cost of organic soap. I got reminded yet again of his goal to chalk up one meat-free month. "To clear out my system," he said, but God knows he'll play it up like he's buffing a new hipster facet. Holding a fucking gin and tonic at some party, swapping lasagna recipes with the stockgirl while that Michigan funk comp uncoils like some TV plan. Anyway, he wouldn't have considered it if I hadn't reminded him why shit smells so bad: it's rotting meat pushed through a greenhouse for four hours.

We came for lightbulbs, but soon conscripted some cornflakes and pipe cleaners for good measure.

"I want a soul wedding."
"Fuck you, you don't."
"Serious. All vinyl, Aretha for the recessional, Jimmy James for the ceremony, Northern shit for the dancefloor. You think she'll go for that?"
I looked for which aisle. 12. Housewares. Voice down.
"Who? Toaster stockgirl?"
"Maybe. Girlfriend."
"No one you know will make any sense of that wedding. Except me, and I'll make it a life goal to break that shit up."
"I could get a new set of friends. Detroit friends."
"Life goal. It's one word now: lifegoal." Pause. "You will not hold us hostage to your doubts."

Big pause until after we paid. It wasn't her in 12 at that point; some ponytailed Taylor'd burnout was building the Whitman's Valentine display, but only I had checked. As we hit the concrete, we jagged a sec. The stockgirl was sitting on a tipped newspaper vending machine. Her elbows, sheathed with an undershirt's three-quarter sleeves, dug into the upper part of her legs, parted wearily. She was on a smoke break.

Seeing our jag, she looked up. And spoke. "I am imprecise and multitudinous. I have no need for emotional relations, and I fuck for my own amusement. My habits have passed even beyond the realm of lifestyle; I am complete without apology" - and here she twirled her cigarette for emphasis, like a TV detective or something - "nor do I presume that anyone would note me enough to expect an apology. I am neither mystic nor mother, I will not affix my outsider's seal to your chosen ruts of pretense.

"And I'd go for brass canzonas. But that's me."

Right there, in front of her and the violet-glow bug zapper and all the bungeed shopping carts blocking the entrance doors, I poked him. He pulled a five out of his wallet - "mierda!" - and handed it to me. We went home and changed three lightbulbs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

> stuffed with butter tarts and Jolt Cola > LEN

Actually, this is what the democratic public wants to know:

"His music tastes tend toward Beethoven and Bruce Springsteen but 'I force him to listen to Scarlatti and Bach,' Mrs. Alito said in a Washington Post interview published Monday. He once attended a ska festival -- that's rock music, with a touch of reggae and horns."

Well, close enough. The SKA FAQ holds forth like so:

"Musically, ska is a fusion of Jamaican mento rhythm with R&B, with the drum coming in on the 2nd and 4th beats, and the guitar emphasizing the up of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beats. The drum therefore is carrying the blues and swing beats of the American music, and the guitar expressing the mento sound... the Skatalites frequently used a G-Em-C-D guitar progression, while most modern ska uses a straight 1-4-5 progression (A-D-E C-F-G), although A-D-E9-A is another possible progression."

Plus the word's fun to say repeatedly. The progression goes like this:

New Orleans R&B > copied oddly by Jamaican musicians > ska > slowed down and chunked up > reggae > spiritualized, spaced out, the island's own ambient house to ska's 'ardkore > dub > pumped live with a toaster and a breathtaking sound system, imported by DJ Kool Herc to NYC > hip-hop

That's approximate. Anyway, Springsteen rules.

rude bwoy Samuel Alito

I confess: I only do Stycasts so's I can hear how Todd Burns mixes two or three songs of my choosing. The other songs that bookend these mini-mixes... well, I usually download them at random, often upon the recommendation of failed session musicians and Dave Marsh.

Seriously, I love the Stycast thing. I gain strength, I get nasal, I lay the soul down for fake union. You'd do the same thing if you were going nuts down South.

Songs of the Volcano: Includes DVD.

Listening to the new Bob Brozman album. For this jaunt, the genial guitarist swapped ideas with Papuan stringbands. And it is an OK album, certainly not a Putumayo affair at all. Apparently, Papua New Guinea is one of Earth's last lands not graced with the guitar. One of the hallmarks of the aforementioned stringbands, who're usually confined to/associated with their hometown, is untrammeled optimism. Which boosts the record up a mark; one can only imagine what the exchange rate for honky tonk is in Oceania. Another mark added for titling a tune "Youth Development Song". Bob love the kids.

I will let people know when they start writing songs about cocaine and/or lesbian pop stars.

ALSO: Mr. Ian Mathers, who absolutely knows what he likes and dislikes, and can skywrite you a message either way, has told me about butter tarts. Canada, I am coming. One day.

Seven days left in the warehouse; they have my résumé now, and God guide them to use it well. It's been fun putting my hand on the clock radio so "Stay Fly" gets conducted in my boxy warehouse at proper volume, but the carnival's gotta leave town sometime. Brad aches for a desk.


Posted 01/10/2006 - 11:21:29 PM by Hone_Heke:
Dubidet: As an interested-in-many-genres-except-metal fan, I`m a possible convertee. I`m horribly interested in this distinction debate between Thrash & Death regarding Reign In Blood, and I ask you this serious question. Are you able to delineate more concisely for me the *structural language of speed metal* in technical terms?

Posted 01/10/2006 - 11:31:43 PM by dubidet:

Posted 01/10/2006 - 11:47:27 PM by brennschluss:
Dubidet: Metal as an intellectual exercise is wholly unknowable, hence the difficulty in explaining and elucidating exactly what Heavy Metal is. Take death metal for example: It's an arbitrary delineation based as much on personal taste as on objective criteria (the same could be said for all the various metal subgenres). This makes death metal understood as a series of singularities: Obituary is death metal, Carcass is death metal, Morbid Angel is death metal; but it doesn't work to take the sounds/qualities of said bands and extrapolate outward to find other death metal bands. Which is why Arkhon Infaustus is black metal, Zao is Christian metalcore, Behemoth is black metal, Napalm Death is grindcore. I proffer my opinion to prove my point: Writing about heavy metal does nothing to help people understand heavy metal; it's too visceral to every be captured with the written word.

Posted 01/11/2006 - 12:22:21 AM by Hone_Heke:
I see, so what you`re saying is that you`re not a musician, but a writer dealing only in terms that metaphoricise what you hear, and have read elsewhere that the structural languages of death & thrash are not the same. But what I was really offering you was the chance to knowledgably explain G 7th bridge A# bflat D to G to Gflat to E 1st within the Schon-Elix flat bass pattern that dominates the North European chapters of Death. And how Urman`s counterpoint to thrash is to up-fret some of the G changes against an A flat progression, in theory at least, although it depends partly on the feedback amps to convey some of the lower end dissonance. Got it.

Did you get it, fair readers? Wasn't that nefarious? Hone_Heke misrepresents (let's just guess) himself as an indie kid, then asks Stew to concisely present the structural points of speed metal? Stew, knowing that no comments section will hold the right combination of text, sound samples, and .jpegs of frets, kindly laughs him off.

And - and! - Heke deploys his master gambit: he reveals himself not as a metal fan, but as a guy who likes to make shit up. Every word he says in that post has no credible relation to any other word! Instead, it's a po'-faced grenade labeled Dancing About Architecture, and Hone's just sitting on it like the plan's... almost... locking... into... place! He didn't even bother to use the word "speed" in his response! This racism is killing me inside!


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Sunday, January 08, 2006

top ten power ballads

Friday, January 06, 2006

Let's hear it for Lou Rawls y'all

Real Life Rip-Off Top Ten: 1/5/06 through the bye week

"Y'all gotta excuse us, we can't bounce as much as we want to cos if we bounce too much the record'll jump"

Texas is the home of the players and pimps. I thought y'all knew. I was born in San Jose, and I did extensive time in Florida, but we jumped during the space between songs and now here I am! Stycast next week! Featuring none of the following songs, but the one after that? In-Vince-Able!

10. Sleepy Brown, "Me, My Baby, My Cadillac" (2005) - Technically the Purple Ribbon All-Stars, but fuck that. He's not a great soul singer, and the background is wholesale 70s cribbing with just a couple weak chops, but that's classic mixtape trickery, and it's a hot sample. Hip-hop: more pop sitar, more flute. Sleepy Brown: it's just a car.

9. Cold Crush Brothers, "Heartbreakers (Mega Mix)" (1984) - "We're what the women demand/And also what they can't stand!" Ah, to have six fly brothers on the mic again. It's an electro-hop monument, "American Pie" for the Detroit rollerskating set. Seven minutes of gleeful, general girl-fuckery. The dais is passed around, there's a couple fevered chants, the intro sample is indefinably funny (Shattered woman: "How could they do this to us?" Sobbing friend: "They can't just keep doing this to us." "I know, but it's so hard to just walk away." Old man: "Hey baby, did somebody break ya heart?"). The Crew gets backhanded props for being a sick live act, but man. "Heartbreakers"!

8. LEN, "Steal My Sunshine" (1999) - Was it really seven years ago I was experiencing lust-pangs at the cheeky sight of a pregnant belly in the "Steal My Sunshine" video? There's so many things right about this song.

a. The spoken intro/interlude. Nothing critically sound here, it's just funny to hear Canucks say things like "Well, does he like butter tarts?" And when dude says "Sharon! I love you!", well... somehow, that's high school to me. Beginnings of self-deprecation, sincerity and gossip.

b. If you've heard "More More More," you know how little that sample appears in the original track. Props for isolating the funkiest two bars.

c. The cowbell rings like sonar.

7. Cassidy, Lil' Wayne, and Fabolous, "6 Minutes" (2005) - Everyone's a little slow, but who'd be impressed with a track called "4 Minutes"? Fab nets the OR closing with shit like "Jessica Alba, Kirsten Dunst/And still make a mil' on the first of months/These dudes be the first to front/'Til they family and friends is in limos, they in hearse in front/I'm in the top position, I can make you a proposition/I'm in the hard top waiting on the drop edition/To hell with the patience/I'ma send a nigga down under like Australia vacations". Word on the street is Lil' Wayne's at the U. of Houston on a poli sci major. Apparently, he's a real nice cat, quite smart, but what rapper not named Webbie isn't?

6. Peter Tosh with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Walk and Don't Look Back" (1978) - After the Green Bay massacre, The One Peter Tosh cold rocked the One Love Peace Concert. Suspicious of proffered peace, his set was the toughest of all and, since Mick was behind the curtain that night, earned him a roster spot on the new Rolling Stones label. Of course, I've been listening to his Temptations cover. A collabo with the fugging Glimmers themselves.

Anyway, I'm trying to pinpoint when backing vocals started to suck. Sometime before Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Maybe disco and its earless aim. But somehow the classic back-of-the-room wails lost all charm. Once in a while, I'll hear something like Ricochet's "Seven Bridges Road," or Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" - a male counterpoint, just like "Someday We'll Be Together," perhaps the acme of backing vox - and I think about Holland/Dozier days.

Indie pop's gotten pretty good at it, I suppose. "Vittorio E."

5. Rufus Thomas, "Funky Robot" (1973) - I haven't wrestled professionally in about nine years, but even in my decline, I was toasted for my entry music: the first sixty seconds of Rufus Thomas' "Funkiest Man Alive". The best part. Anyway, sometimes I make well-received cameos at RAW events, usually smashing my farewell plaque over a McMahon flunky or something. I yell about my legacy and give my signature handsign: Sign of the Elders, brought parabolic from left shoulder to right.

4. Betty Harris, "There's a Break in the Road" (1969) - This would be number one, except that I'm plugging this shit in randomly. And I'm testing your loyalty. This song will raise your dead, but you'll be circling the turntable like a zombie anyway. No harm, no foul. Quick, name three soul songs that incorporate feedback as a motif. Name one. I can't either. Deep soul that drains to an evil hole. Courtesy of theKate, who's quickly turning into a sweatless svengali of this kind of stuff.

3. Anton Maiden, "Powerslave" (1999) - I don't get it. Iron Maiden MIDIs fronted by a slavish Swede, now dead. Too earnest to be hilarious. Anyway, listening to Ariel Pink before this preps me for accepting bald MIDI composition as legit. Here's a tribute site if you need it. Now, this I don't get, but in a wonderful way.

Also, the career of Ariel Pink is a tragic misfire.

2. Q-Unit, "Under Pressure All the Time" (2005) - I hate 50 Cent, but sometimes his choruses make my panties moist. What else to say? Silence Xperiment make up for their awful name with a decent-to-sick set of Fiddy/Freddy mashes. The cover is worth staring at for a bit.

1. Toots and the Maytals, "Bla Bla Bla" (1968) - I'm so over the moon for the human voice that the Maytals can sing a I-IV-V "bla bla bla" over and over and I get all Pentacostal. You know how the best verse of "Israelites" is "My wife and my kids they pack up an'a leave me/'Darling,' she said, "I was yours to recieve'"? It's that, but in Perfect Pop Format 1A. Toots - best male voice since Caruso! - gives Christmas presents to his family, but they tip over the table and his dad tears up the card.

I'm not talking in symbols. That's what happens. Toots can sing something like "I called my baby to the breakfast table," riddle it with pregnant pauses, and fashion it into soul murder.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Les Demures

There is entirely too much nudity, or at least the wrong types of it. Something must be done, but by whom?

My post-war years were profligated in the company of dissipated lecturers. You know the genus. Those men who paint the blush back into their childlike fixations. "Oh no," they said, eating the bait and laying more, "you look wonderful. I love larger women; they're so vibrant and unafraid of convention." Four nights of romance, safely lodged in the woman's quarters (shut up), and they steal away in stately Packards, their ravenous sensibilities never to be seen again, except in times of great hunger. Devotees of the Socratic method (later Ginsburgian) of questionable student relations, wild amphetamine rolls in the jazz clubs, all knowledge turned inward, erecting the ego clear through the ceiling of self.

That Gavin Bryars record is rubbish, and I don't care what the boy has to say in its defense.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

surprisingly high: Kurupt

On top of the world, baby, on top of the woooooorld!