Friday, November 21, 2008

Paul Simon and Integration Vs. Visitation

I've been having a hard time writing about Paul Simon's self-titled record. It's something that just snuck up on me. But not in a fast sneak, in a very slow and deliberate sneak. Where it had been nuzzled up in my lap for months and months, and I never noticed. It has slowly become one of my favorite albums. Which is an odd thing, because I'm not the hugest Paul Simon fan. I think he lost the wheel after a few albums into his solo career. I don't like Graceland, I'm willing to give it another couple of chances, I just think his songs are best when they have some space for them to move their elbows around. Graceland is just too busy and cluttered. I don't know, maybe not, I'm working on it. 

Paul Simon is a horse of a different color, though. It's relaxed, confident vibe make it perfect for just about any time. Perfect for Sunday morning's breakfast, late late late Friday night's "just this one last record", weekday afternoon's laying around. The songs are well built, the melodies inbed themselves deep in your humming veins and your whistling capillaries. There something about a song like "Peace Like A River" that is just so open to interpretation. In Simon's hands it's the sound of being content, maybe. He's still gonna be up for a while. Is that an invitation, or a threat? Spoon have recently tackled this song and made the "I'm gonna be up for a while" line sound more threatening, especially when they start pounding away at their instruments after each little part. 

As I've had some time to think about it, taking a little lunch break in the middle of writing this, my problem with Graceland might be the impression I've always had about it being a particularly egregious example of the 1980's musical colonialism. Some bands, well, one band, the Talking Heads, managed to pull this off integrating the music of other cultures into their music while maintaining their prevailing artistic themes. On Graceland Paul Simon sounds more like a musical tourist. Paul Simon songs with South African music attached.  (Some bands since have been more adept at achieving a positive balance of integration versus visitation, Sea And Cake and Vampire Weekend being two of the best examples.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Things I'm Enjoying Now

So, it's been quite some time since I last wrote a blog post, since June, in fact. I'm sure there are reasons I could give, outside of being terribly busy getting married, working, enjoying married life etc. But the fact of the matter is that my profession allows me a good bit of free time that I've just kind of wasted. After getting married, I invested all of my alone free time into being obsessed with the election. Which was awesome. Getting married and getting Barack Obama into the White House have been two high points of my life, two of the happiest days in my life yet. All in the same year, no less. 

Somehow, I've got to get back into blogging, with the election over, there's only so much information I can get about politics now. Unlike during those feverish months before, where I would visit Talking Points Memo four or five times a day. So here is my attempt to dry out from a bad case of Election Fever. A return to blogging, or more appropriately a dip of my toe in to the blogging waters.

So to steal the entire premise of Nick Hornby's "Things I'm Reading Now", here are some things I'm enjoying now...

1. Orion (The Constellation)
Orion hangs over my house in the fall and winter. Whenever I walk my dog, Bean at night, I see a few stars that break through the light pollution that comes with living smack dab in the middle of a mid sized city. But on my way back to my house, I see Orion hanging over the house, on his side. Something is so entirely beautiful about this constellation and it's reliability, hanging over the house I've shared with my wife for almost four years (we've lived together for much longer than we've been married two months in four days). It's been the longest sustained period of happiness in my life. Which brings me to my next thing I enjoy, which should have been number one, that is, if this list was in any particular order.

2. My Wife (Amanda Given)
Being married is awesome. If only for the fact that I now get to call Amanda "my wife". And "the missus" and all other fun permutations thereafter. I can't say that things are so different from the almost four years previous. I've felt the same way about this woman since day one. My friend, Melissa recently asked me how long Amanda and I had been living together, and when I told her how Amanda and I got together in the end of February 2005, and moved in to this same house that Orion hangs over that April. She slanted her mouth and said "geez, that was a little risky," and I guess when you think about it, objectively, from the viewpoint of a passive narrator, that story sounds a little crazy. But I hadn't been so sure of anything in my life. I knew I'd spend the rest of my life with Amanda from that very moment we kissed in the empty bus station at 5 in the morning. "I had never been so sure about anything in my life," is what I told Melissa. And I meant it, and I mean it. I love my wife.

3. Popless on The Onion AV Club and by extension minor league music, and it's ability to make an imprint on your life.

At the same time I hatched the itty bitty egg that couldn't, The Red Skull, Noel Murray started Popless, an excellent column on the always excellent AV Club with a very similar, though much more devoted premise. The Red Skull was made shortly before, when I really look at it, was the catalyst for the waning of my interest in blogging, Amanda getting hit by a drunk driver. I guess maybe certain things seemed a lot less important. Also, there was the Hatchet folding as an unintended side effect of that man's drunken, reckless, harmful behavior. So, I lost some of the motivation for my writing. Anyway, entirely too personal aside over, The Red Skull was my attempt to get some of the bloggers and other writers I knew to write about the old music they enjoyed, whatever it was, as long as it wasn't new. I only got the very game, and very great Marco to join me on my mission, and he did a much better job than I, in my opinion. The superior Popless and Murray have kept up with it's premise, exposing me to some things I'd slept on or reminding me how great some things were (The Who and Pete Townsend). My favorite part of each column, though are The Stray Tracks, where he picks out songs from his ipod that he wouldn't want to comment on the artist's entire output, but just on this one, great song. Ranging from bands like Thunderclap Newman, whose "Something In The Air" has been abused in snippet form in sixties/seventies movie montages for years. Hearing the full song for the first time was a revelation! What a wonderful song, what a great band! Then there were little bits by nineties indie-rock also-rans, like Unrest and Versus. Oh, how wonderful Versus were. Little indie songs with a guitar god busting out in the middle of these little songs to lay some knowledge on the cross-armed crowds. I've threatened it before, but a nineties version of Nuggets should be compiled, and it should be called "Lint". Almost all of those garage bands on Nuggets were on independent labels, which subsided until the mid eighties, and really flowered in the nineties. It should be done!

4. "How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?" by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The perfect Sharon Jones song. Back on Nov. 4 when the networks called it for Barack, the bar we were at went crazy, it turned into a dance party, and the song that kicked it off was this absolutely funky and absolutely appropriate number. This song will be played at every party I throw from here to eternity.

5. My nephew William Sergio Becom.
Sergio has just recently joined the family, shortly after I did in an official capacity. Sergio is just about the most awesome baby in the universe. And man, do I want one for our little family over here on Gordon St. He's such a well behaved baby, though. He went with the family down to SC for a wedding a few weeks ago, and was a quiet little guy almost the entire time. He was calm as could be while a band played, uncles, cousins, mothers, fathers, etc. chattered on. I'm looking forward to playing with Sergio and all the other things that come with being an uncle, like staying up till the sun rises getting drunk with him many years from now on a beach week. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Shape Of Bagels To Come

It's been quite a long time since I last wrote anything, period. I don't have a terribly glorious reason why, either. I spent a little more than two months of my free time with Grand Theft Auto 4. It was fantastic, an amazing video game from a series that has produced the best video games of the post-Nintendo dominance era. For the most parts, video games have fallen into this shooter/football game rut. The Grand Theft Auto games are pretty much the only ones that ever hold my interest for very long. GTA4, the 6th (or 9th, really) iteration of the series will end up for me, being one of the best entertainment experiences of the year. Up there with all the arty movies, and arty music. This being primarily a music blog, I am driven to make a parallel between GTA and the music world.

Lately, I've dusted off my well worn copy of Refused's 1998 album The Shape Of Punk To Come, one of those watershed albums in a genre (hardcore) that I find often gets mired in it's own strictures and it's desire not to mess with a formula that's worked. It's been a problem that's plagued hardcore, and punk in general since it's inception. The high points of hardcore can almost make up for the homogeny of it's ilk, The Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Husker Du, all produced albums that are high points not only of their genres but of their generations. But it's telling that all of those bands moved onto something else, musically. Some with success, some not so much. Minor Threat begat Fugazi, Land Speed Record begat Flip Your Wig, etc. etc.

The Shape Of Punk To Come was a grenade to the face for me in 1998. Amid the dreck that somehow teenagers I knew started calling hardcore (Korn and Limp Bizkit were called hardcore by the unknowing people I was hanging out with at the time). I saw the video for "New Noise" and my mind was blown. It's amazing to even think of a video for a song like "New Noise" even being played in 1998 let alone now, ten years later. I promptly went out and bought The Shape Of Punk To Come. This was punk? Holy shit, what had I been listening to. It was Epitaph, which was throwing all the seeds of this pop-punk emo shit, but I was totally falling for that shit while it was ramping up. And then this came along. So I started digging. I heard Husker Du, I found out what that clip of The Bad Brains that I saw a couple of years before was all about (I wrote a post about that about a year ago). The thing about The Shape Of Punk To Come, though was that it did about a million different things that it's predecessors didn't, or that they hadn't even thought was possible. Violins, vibraphones, upright bass, constantly shifting song structures, burbling techno passages interrupting songs. It's fiery, it's invigorating, it's fucking fun as hell to listen to in the car, all alone, windows down, screaming along.

And sorry to get your hopes up about any return to blogging form, I'm hopping down to Florida Thursday afternoon, I'll be back Monday, with some pictures and such things.

Also, I'd like to happily announce that I've lost 25 pounds. And not as in I was pickpocketed in London, lost 25 pounds.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crates & Crates: Twenty-Five Miles

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band- Twenty Five Miles

One of the first moments in my long love affair with soul music started on a trip back from visiting my grandparents in Ohio. I was sitting in the back seat of a rental car, listening to my Walkman. I'd officially exhausted the tapes that I had, and was listening to an oldies station outside of Winston Salem. I heard a song that blew me away, and I couldn't figure out who it was for years. I just remembered the parts about "feet don't fail me now" and "I gotta walk on! ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah". On occasion I'd remember the song, and search madly for it, quizzing my friend Brian, who was (is) a walking encyclopedia of the type of soul music that would be on oldies stations, and he didn't know what I was talking about either. Years and years pass, haunted by this song, only remembering the urgency and gritty feeling of the song, and it's aforementioned lyrical tidbits.

Then one afternoon, I bring home In The Jungle, Babe by The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. This was right after Amanda and I moved in together, so I'd say right around three years. It was a perfect find for my fledgling vinyl collection. The 103rd Street Band is probably most popular for "Express Yourself" (which isn't on this record). There's an amateurish nature to the band's recordings, Charles Wright's voice cracks like a drunken hobo, the band plays way too fast, but all that makes their sound all the more exhilarating.

And on the second side of In The Jungle, Babe, I heard it. "Twenty Five Miles", even faster, even more urgent than I remembered it being. There it was, this moment that led me into loving soul music, this moment that I couldn't even explain to anyone, and here it was. I was so happy to finally hear this song that I'd been thinking of for years.

So, years pass, I occasionally listen to the album now and again, and get slapped in the face by the greatness of "Twenty Five Miles". Today, I decided that it'd be good to bring this song to Beneath The Underdog, inspired by my "Compared To What" post from the other day. I decided to do some similar research on the song, to find that this wasn't the version I heard on the outskirts of Winston-Salem that night so long ago. I must have heard Edwin Starr's version, which was the original. Here was the line about "feet don't fail me now" which wasn't in the 103rd Street version. I think I like 103rd Street version more than I do Starr's, not to discount Starr's, it's just that The 103rd Street band tear it to pieces.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Crates & Crates: Compared To What

Les McCann & Eddie Harris- Compared To What

Went record shopping today a few days ago, and picked up a few really great things. I found what has been a holy grail of sorts for me since I've had a record player, The Swiss Movement by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. It has what is hands down my favorite soul-jazz song, "Compared To What". I first heard a few seconds of this song in Casino. Just this short burst of Les McCann shouting "GODAMMIT! Tryin' to make it real compared to what!" to kick off some scene with Robert Deniro walking through the Casino. It's literally like five seconds before the song fades out, and I was captivated by the anger, frustration, and soul in those five seconds. I didn't hear the full song until years after once we hit the mp3 age. And damn, it's even more impressive than those first few seconds I heard. The lyrics almost read like a lost Dead Kennedys record, ranting against nearly every facet of society, even taking on Christianity, which for the time must have got them their fair share of hassles.

As I was reading over the liner notes to the record, I realized that this song was actually written by someone else beside Les McCann. I had always assumed that this song was half improvised, the anger and vitality of the song is so real that I just assumed that it came up from McCann's boiling guts. It turns out that the song was written by Eugene McDaniels. Eugene McDaniels was a lite r&b singer who soured on America somewhere in the sixties and turned deeply angry and political. He never recorded this song himself, as far as I've been able to find, though he did give it to Roberta Flack to record at around the same time as this recording. Flack's version mellows out the anger, and while good, has nothing on McCann and Harris' version.

So I decided to do some research on McDaniels, he had two albums in the late sixties and was fired by Atlantic reportedly on the say-so of Spiro Agnew. The two albums Outlaw and Headless Heroes of The Apocalypse. They're semi-funky and pretty damn good, from what I've heard of them so far. The lyrics are great, and you can easily draw lines from "Compared To What" to songs like "The Lord Is Black" and "Supermarket Blues". It's too bad that there isn't a contemporaneous version of "Compared To What" by McDaniels. Though I think it really would be hard to top McCann's.

The rest of The Swiss Movement is a great, raw soul-jazz album. McCann doesn't sing outside of "Compared To What" which is unfortunate. The album was recorded live at a jazz festival in Switzerland. McCann and Harris just got together and played without any practice, they just got together and busted out this amazing live album. McCann's piano chords chop out dramatic tension while Harris' saxophone bleats out little solos that he's making up off the top of his head. And in comes the ringer, Benny Bailey. A Cleveland expatriate living in Switzerland, who inserts these amazing trumpet lines into songs whose style he's never even played before. He was more of a "serious" musician, playing for the Swiss radio orchestra. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I'm extremely happy to have finally gotten my hands on this record. I've spent years looking for it and have finally gotten my hands on what I've been looking for here. And I was not disappointed at all. And as with all good albums worth their salt, this has sent me on a new quest, to get my hands on those two Eugene McDaniels records. And probably some more McCann records with his singing.

Check back tomorrow or Monday for some stuff from this warped Bob Dylan bootleg I found for a dollar a while back.

Also bought:
Badfinger- Magic Christian Music
Paul Butterfield Band- s/t
NRBQ- At Yankee Stadium

Monday, March 3, 2008


So, I spent the afternoon scouring the shelves of the reputable and slightly less reputable shops in town that sell records for anything from the original Badfinger lineup. I was smacked in the face yesterday by the greatness of "No Matter What", as I documented in yesterday's post. I was bound and determined to find anything from "Magic Christian Music" to "Head On" but I came up pretty much emptyhanded. (I did see Magic Christian Music at Nice Price, but skipped it in the hopes of finding No Dice or Straight Up at Schoolkids, which I didn't so, you could say that was a mistake.)

So, I just finished downloading a handful of songs off of Soulseek, just to satisfy my curiousity about this band. To see if they're as good as that one 7" was. So far, so good. So far in my research about the band, I'm not seeing the kind of rhapsodizing about Badfinger that a band in a somewhat similar position (albeit with a lot less money behind them) Big Star. Not to discount Big Star. It's just that Badfinger are just as good if not better in some aspects, and seem completely overlooked. So, once I get my hands on one of their albums, look forward to a write-up about it over at The Red Skull.

Scientology Vs. The Beatles

Isaac Hayes- Something
(this is a twelve minute song, so it's a bigger sized file, just to warn you)

Isaac Hayes is many things, a composer, a Scientologist, a chef, a singer, the man wrote some of the best songs from the Stax label, and man, he could turn someone else's song on it's ear. Today's download is Hayes' take on George Harrison's "Something". A song that made it's rounds in the r&b world (another notable cover is by Ray Charles).
Here Hayes tacks on an extra nine minutes to the original three of The Beatles version. Female back up singers, electric violin, and big horn sections push the song into the outer reaches of soul music. Chants of "the girl has got something" are the only things to vaguely remind you of where the song started off. It all comes crashing down on itself at the end, the band reaches this euphoric state chasing after the screeching electric violin. It's as if even the band forgot where it was, until the guitarist fades out with that familiar reverbed part at the end of the original.
By the way, I'd appreciate any feedback on how this whole mp3 thing is working out. Are the downloads fast enough? Are they actually working, for that matter?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

C-Sides Part Two

Badfinger- No Matter What
The Box Tops- Sweet Cream Ladies, Forward March
The Arbors- The Letter

Earlier this morning I was documenting my journey through my soon to be father in-law's stack of 45s, and I promised to return with more about what I found in there. It's a kind of weird idiosyncratic selection, though it hews towards the lite rock side of things, with a few novelty records thrown in. All together, I culled twenty songs from quite more records than that. Outside of what I've already discussed in the previous post, I was absolutely floored by Badfinger. Why have I been sleeping on this band. I've heard "No Matter What" before, but damn. Hearing it again, I'm just floored by how good this song is. It's just a flat out pure pop song, powerful and compact. Immediate research is pending, I'll probably swing by Amanda's store and pick up whatever I can find of theirs. Though I'm slightly weary because "No Matter What" is actually the b-side on this 7". The a-side is a meandering song that screams "CONCEPT ALBUM!" called "Carry On Til Tomorrow".

A b-side to The Allman Brother's "Ramblin' Man", "Pony Boy" is flat out transcendent for a band like The Allman Brothers. It's a Dickie Betts number, so it's much more country and not so jammy. It's langorious and relaxed, it just unfolds perfectly for a Sunday morning with coffee and an oatmeal themed breakfast bar.

The last one I'll mention is Tiny Tim's "Fill Your Heart" covered later by David Bowie on Hunky Dory. It's the b-side to "Tip-Toe Through The Tulips", but far less gimmicky by a mile. Tiny Tim cuts out the fluttering affectations of the latter and sings in an almost baritone. Which is much closer to his actual voice as I learned from an interview with him on Fresh Air I heard a few years ago.

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon putting records onto the computer. Right now I'm doing the Eccentric Soul record Belize City Boil-Up, which is a flat-out amazing compilation of funk, soul, calypso, and reggae informed music from Belize. After that is this fantastic Issac Hayes record with a twelve minute long cover of "Something". It's one of the craziest Beatles covers I've ever heard. (Look for that and more mp3 downloads coming soon!)


I'm spending this morning working through this stack of loose seven inches that we got from my future father in-law last year. At the time I think my stereo was out of commission, so I couldn't listen to any records. They got shelved to the side and I put off digging through them for a while. Not all of it is exactly gold, some stuff is terribly dated, or just terrible. Like, say, I can't fucking stand the Stone Poneys. Bands with poor grammar only get a pass when they're excellent. Sorry, Linda Rondstat. There has been a few pieces of gold scattered about, though. Like an excellent lite-rock cover of "The Letter" by The Arbors. They slow the song down with a latin-tinged loping acoustic folk guitar and smooth, sedate vocals. Halfway through the song, it drops everything and starts with some ELO style harmonizing then stumbles back into it's original setting.

And speaking of The Box Tops, there was an excellent late period 45 of theirs that sounded like a lost Big Star session. Until I dug into The Box Tops further than "The Letter" I couldn't make a connection between The gruff urgent man behind that song and the much smoother voice behind Big Star.

Let's see, what else is there, a condensed version of the theme for "The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly". Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs, "Wooly Bully" which I always forget how great and fun that song is. It was a disappointment to hear the b-side being such a blatant rewrite of the a-side. Either that or maybe Sam The Sham just didn't have any writing chops. I was hoping that he'd be more along the lines of Screamin' Jay Hawkins, whose discography is filled with things even more fantastic than his one hit.

Right now I'm listening to this fantastic Supremes song called "Put Yourself In My Place", which I think might have finally sold me on The Supremes. I've spent years on the fence about this group, at first, rejecting the group outright because of how smooth they were. Especially when I first got into soul music. I've always preferred the grittier soul music, Otis Redding over Marvin Gaye, etc. But man, just on a basic level of song, The Supremes' songs were built like The Colosseum, simple but huge, impressive, and enduring.

I'll post more about the songs as I listen to them, at this point, I've covered everything I've listened to this morning, so I'll return with more soon. I'm also going to try posting some of these songs online so you can download them.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I've Had This Dream Before

To further illustrate the greatness of the internet, I was randomly surfing around, saw a local news piece on the "Chapel Hill scene" from the nineties, which led me to a clip of Ian MacKaye chiding the D.C. city council, which led me to a clip of James Brown and Little Richard playing Wheel of Fortune together. Not as entertaining as it could have been, but still, it's completely worth it to get to the very end.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Yesterday was a pretty great day, people. Amanda and I woke up down in Holden Beach, walked out onto an impossibly cold beach and took a short walk, surveying the strange mud colored sand that they were using to widen the beach, the wind was refrigerating our extremities. In other words, I wanted the weather to give me a hand with what was supposed to be an idyllic place for me to propose to Amanda on our third anniversary. Well, you go to war with the army you have... I proposed as we were approaching the walk through the new, extremely soft sand (we'd sink to our ankles at certain points). I wonder if any of the workers driving the dumptrucks and backhoes saw me down on my knees.

The weather didn't necessarily improve once we got into Wilmington. But at that point it didn't matter. We got into our fantastic hotel room at The Stemmerman's Inn on Front Street. We walked the streets of downtown Wilmington for a while and then had a fantastic dinner at Deluxe. Which I highly recommend to any readers out there looking for a nice dinner in Wilmington. I had a lime and wasabi (strangely enough, wasabi is not in blogger's spell check) encrusted Mahi Mahi with scallop fried rice, winter vegetables and a chili coconut sauce, which was fantastic. We went there on our last anniversary, and will probably go there whenever we've got some money to blow on great food whenever we're down there.

Well, anyway, enjoy the pictures, and have a great day. I just want everyone to know that I'm extremely happy.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Dopest, Most Illest Fucking Thing I've Ever Heard

One of my great Internet pleasures over the past year has been The Hood Internet, a blog from a couple of DJs who have been reviving the mash-up. Pitting indie rock tracks against contemporary hip-hop and r&b. Sometimes it's been sublime (the pairing of Broken Social Scene and R. Kelly being my favorite), sometimes not so hot (Panda Bear and Black Rob).

A few days ago, they topped themselves, and anyone else who's ever made a mash-up. (Though that pairing of "Highway To Hell" and "Sexx Laws" was pretty dope, whoever did that.) Putting David Lee Roth's vocals from "Running With The Devil" over the beat of Biggie's "Hypnotize"... damn. I just wanted to share this with y'all.

While I'm recommending mp3 blogs, I'd like to send a shout-out to Soul Sides and Captain's Crate, who have been expanding my horizons with some crazy Japanese funk, the Colombian funk of Phiripos y Los Caribes (my favorite from the two sites so far), and assorted lost soul songs. Soulsides pointed me to this amazing pre-Endtroducing DJ Shadow clip where he ingeniously makes an Eddie Brickell song into the funkiest thing you've ever heard. Which unfortunately is no longer available for download on Soulsides' blog, and not for sale on Shadow's site. So... soulseek maybe? Or I could drop it on a mix CD for you. Anyone want a mix CD? I'm pretty good at making them. Anyone know how I could make an mp3 blog myself, and I can give everyone a mix CD they could download themselves? I don't know how these things work. Anyway. I'm going to try and write about a soundtrack for The Red Skull now, have a good day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Goodbye, John Edwards.

John Edwards just announced he's leaving the race, and I'm sad to see him go. I've always been a big believer in Sen. Edwards, from the quick responses to my letters when he was in office to his fight against poverty, I've never felt that there were any false notes from him. (The Iraq vote being the one glaring mis-step, which he apologized for unlike someone else I know.)

I'm almost certain that he'll endorse Obama, either that or he'll endorse no one. I can't see him endorsing Hillary at all. Just based on watching the campaign closely since last winter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Heart's Gone The Color of Coca-Cola

There's been a spat of activity over at the Red Skull blog lately, two new posts from Marco, one new one from me.

I've been going back and listening to some of the music from the turn of the century that I absolutely loved to see if they still stick. Four albums in particular have stayed in basic rotation for the past eight years, (in order of most played) Queens Of The Stone Age R, Mclusky Do Dallas, At The Drive-In Relationship of Command, and ...Trail Of Dead Source Tags & Codes. These four were in constant rotation in my CD walkman when they came out. The Queens album has aged the best, I think, mainly because it's a timeless album. I can see myself driving kids to the museum or the baseball fields whichever they end up choosing, listening to R and skipping over "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer". They may never again reach the heights they achieved here and on Songs For The Deaf, but as long as I have those two albums, I'll be all right.

I went on at length about Do Dallas over at The Red Skull. Relationship of Command has lost some of it's sheen to me only because of how the members of this amazing band completely dropped the ball once they split up. Sparta ended up being real boring, and The Mars Volta, well, I can only listen to one of their albums every three years. They aimed for outerspace and landed on some over the top planet where Rush fans live. The tension between the two creative forces in the band, the post-punk and the weird outerspace music is what made At The Drive-In so compelling. And listening to this album again, it's as exciting as it was listening to it in Derrick's truck as he unexpectedly drove us into a field where the Target in Wake Forest would later be, the high grass hiding the large gashes in the dirt beneath us. Putting us on two or one wheel(s) at a time.

I have a feeling that Source Tags & Codes will end up as one of the best albums of this decade, it's a perfect statement from a band whose ambitions would soon outweigh their abilities. After this album And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead collapsed under their own momentum. Poised to be a Sonic Youth for the new millennium (there's a phrase I haven't used in a while), Trail of The Dead lost the reigns. I hold out hope with every new album they put out, but I think all is lost for these guys. It's a shame, too. It's interesting listening to this album now and seeing it as the most influential album of the lot. Trail Of Dead's sweep and scope informed the Arcade Fire and numerous other bands of the moment.

While I was writing this, I noticed that each of these bands has ended up disappointing me in the long run, Era Vulgaris was a half baked attempt at regaining their fun side which QOSTA abandoned for the interesting Lullabies To Paralyze. Mclusky broke up, and I haven't heard anything from their new band Future Of The Left yet. At The Drive-In broke up and followed their respective muses to less interesting ends. And Trail Of Dead, well, they made one perfect album.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Motherfuckin' Hillary Clinton

I think I've made it pretty clear throughout my blogging history that I'm an Obama man. To me he's clearly the best candidate the Democrats have had since... well, Bill Clinton. One problem among many that I have with Hillary Clinton is that she assumes she should have the presidency based solely on her "experience" as a Clinton. I believe I posted a video a while ago where Meredith Vierra broke that "experience" story into pieces. Essentially pointing out that Hillary's "experience" as First Lady included visits to foreign countries with Sinbad.

So, it dispirits me when my blogging compatriot, Marco, is a Hillary man. As is the case with about 65% of my replies to his blog posts, this one ran a little long, so I transferred it over here.

In his post, Marco was talking about Michelle Obama (and the Obama camp in general) have reacted to The Clinton's attacks of recent.

But you know what? If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, you
can bet the Republicans will do this and much much worse. Hell, they’ve
already started bullshit rumors about Obama being some stealth terrorist or some
shit. They will probably be aided by a complacent media, always eager to
show they can take down a Democrat. So really, unclutch your pearls.
Get excited when the real mud starts to fly.

Okay, so, I'll agree with you on the whole oh "woe is me" reaction. It's working out for Obama though, the media is buying his framing of the situation, so that works for my man. I do however have a problem with the Clinton's "attacks". Some to most are unfounded bullshit. i.e. when they attack Obama for voting "present" on pro-choice bills that came up in Illinois. A little background on this and you'll see that was NARAL and Planned Parenthood's directive for these bills to vote "present" to force more moderate democratic members to vote yes.

The Rezco thing reeks of small time bull crap that the Clintons and any other person with a law degree running for office occasionally runs into. Add to that, Hillary was on the board at WalMart. So, who's worse? One slumlord or America's slumlord?

The excuse of starting baseless attacks against a fellow democrat just because someone in the other party would do it is bullshit. But then again, I guess that she used the same mindset when voting for the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act (twice), and the Kyl-Liberman act.

And this brings me back to experience. This is the experience Hillary is touting. She's been hawkish as all get-out. Now, where is this coming from? Is this being an actual war-hawk? If so, Hillary is dangerous as president. We might end up in Iran or Syria if she follows this muse for real. The other possibility for the motivations to her experience is that she's an opportunist whose rhetoric matches the direction of the wind. That's not exactly leadership material to me. Either she's steps away from running with Joe Lieberman as her VP and making Iraq the 51st state or she's flaky as all get out.

I guess the most important question is, will she actually get us out of Iraq? Or is that just something she's saying to get into office?

Bill and Hillary are playing this scorched earth game, where there's no way that anyone else could get the nomination based on the impression that they wouldn't be there to help in someone else's general election campaign. It's them or no one. It's a chicky drive with the voters and the party, and it's shameful.

We're still boys Marco, I just can't get with you on this Hillary Clinton thing, sorry.

I did read your post about Amy Winehouse though. That shit is tight, I didn't want to believe it when I first heard it. A portion of me still doesn't completely believe it. But you should check out Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, their new-ish album 100 Days 100 Nights totally owns the Winehouse record. Here's a little taste of awesomeness.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Oh, what great news we got the other night when we heard that Obama won the Iowa caucuses. Though the caucuses are total bullshit, where votes are garnered with cookies, as I'm told. Then again, I can't be sure if that's just East Coast liberal condescension for the rubes out in Iowa. "Oh, isn't it cute that in their antiquated ceremony they drag people to different sides of the room with the lure of home-made cookies!" Either way, Obama's got himself some momentum heading into New Hampshire, where he'll trounce Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

I can't help feeling bad for Edwards, who was my choice before Obama announced. I really couldn't stick with him when the most exciting politician I've ever seen joined the race. I'm pretty sure Obama made me cry in 2004 when he gave that keynote speech at the DNC. So, sorry, John Edwards, I think you'd make a great vice president, if you're up for second banana a second time around.

Weirdly, speaking of Vice President, Mike Huckabee when he was on Jay Leno the other night (SCAB!) he said he really liked Obama and compared himself to Obama. Is Huckabee doing some kind of weird political jujitsu where he's aiming to be some whacko Andrew Johnson.

P.S. I found this clip of Hillary's "experience" being dismissed by that lady from The View. Hillary Clinton, traveling the world, breaking down barriers, getting experience with Sinbad. Pssh! Sinbad can be out-whacky-faced by the governor of California! And he calls himself a statesman!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Beneath The New Dog

This is Bruce Springbean, our dog. Bean for short. Our friend rescued him and we just had to take him in. Someone abandoned Bean, but now he has a warm and loving home. Which is very exciting for us, not so much for our cats, though. Bean is a full blooded Shih Tzu, he's two years old and unfortunately very underweight. We brought Bean home the day after Christmas, so he's been a big distraction from what I resolved would be an active time for blogging. Sorry about that, I've made plenty of declarations of this week or that week being the big comeback, very similar to my pronouncements towards the end of poker games at work, you know, ringing in a hollow fashion.

I can't really trace the reasoning behind my, well, I wouldn't call it a writer's block, but that's kinda what it is, isn't it? You know, I want to write, it's not like I have ideas and can't figure out the words for it, I just haven't had any ideas. Though I've stumbled on a few over the holiday. Some stuff that I wanna write about for The Red Skull, namely a review of The Temptations' With A Lot Of Soul. An album I've had for a long while, and whose majesty I realized once I picked up a weird contemporaneous album Temptations In A Mellow Mood where they play without their strengths stranded on an album of showtunes and standards. With A Lot Of Soul is a showcase for the greatest singer the Temptations ever had, David Ruffin. The material is solid throughout, which is a surprise compared to some other Motown albums from the same time that were top loaded with singles and filled out with schmaltzy left-overs.

I'm also going to try and write about Nuggets II, which out of the three Nuggets boxed sets is the hands down best. That'll be an undertaking for sure, though. It's a huge boxed set that I've only gotten halfway through yet. I got it for Christmas from Amanda among other great things, most notably an Xbox 360, a USB Record Player, and an amazing Eccentric Soul record, "Belize City Boil-Up". "Belize City Boil-Up" is a survey of a music that was greatly affected by a mix of Calypso, Reggae, American Funk and Soul music, and Mexican music due to it's fortuitous geographic location.

Well, I'm gonna stop this awkward writing and hope that I can get back in the swing of things. I want to mention that I was inspired to get my ass back into gear by Marco's gigantic output as of late with his best of 2007 posts over at the Midpoint. Well, I'm heading off to ring in the New Year. Unfortunately there won't be any pictures anytime soon, I kinda broke my camera, it's fixable, but that's not gonna happen quickly, unfortunately. I'll probably borrow my brother's camera for the Yo La Tengo concert on the 10th, I would have loved to take my camera to that show though, being more compact and I think it takes better pictures. His camera is no slouch by any means, my camera's just very versatile. So, happy new year, you can look forward to suffering through my resolution to get back into writing more.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hairway To Steven

So, I'm having trouble getting my shit together to write an actual blogpost. I've been working my ass off at work, hopefully the rest of my customers have finally headed out of town for Christmas, and I can get home early and relax for the next two nights.

This video has been making the rounds, I first saw it on The Onion AV Club's Videocracy. But it's a perfect cover of Stairway To Heaven by an Australian Beatles cover band. Prepare to have your mind blown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas is soooo close.

Actual blogging coming up tomorrow, for now, I just thought I'd share this video with you.

I'm writing a piece about Christmas music tomorrow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The 5 Most Disapointing Albums of The Year

5. Queens Of The Stone Age- Era Vulgaris.
After spending years making smart, sexy, and near perfect hard rock albums, QOSTA finally collapsed under their own weight. Lacking in charisma, hooks, and interesting ideas, Era Vulgaris is the half baked skeleton of a good album.

4. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky.
Getting tagged "The American Radiohead" has to be something you'd want to avoid. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to make albums like Sky Blue Sky. Which isn't a bad album. A little too slick for my tastes, but an enjoyable listen. It just happens to come from a group that I've viewed as one of the greatest bands of the past twenty years. It's just all so underwhelming.

3. The Shins- Wincing The Night Away.
I saw this coming, just not so soon. The Shins rode their AM pop tendencies all the way into being a boring band.

2. The Good, The Bad, And The Queen- The Good, The Bad, And The Queen
Again, not so much of a bad album, as it doesn't measure up to it's possibilities. Paul Simonon from THE CLASH, Tony Allen who drummed on all those amazing Fela Kuti albums, and Damon Albarn, I was expecting a modern day London Calling. All I got was this downbeat reflection on working class England.

1. The Hold Steady- Boys And Girls In America.
That's right, I said it. This album BLOWS. I know this album came out in 2006, it sat perched atop many "Best Of" lists. I didn't get buy it until after it was reccomended so highly, in 2007. So, there's a bit of fudging here, but this is my chance to air this out in public. After reading the breathless reviews of this album, one could imagine The Hold Steady were riding down on golden chariots from Valhalla to single-handedly saving rock 'n' roll. Instead, what you find is the most god awful cheese guitars crashing all over sub par pub rock. These guitars aren't reminiscent of any actual rock group I could think of. It's more akin to the fictionalized sitcom rock group, Jesse And The Rippers. Boys And Girls In America is the most dreadful album I've heard, ever. And my Grandma made me listen to a late period Gloria Estefan album once.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Voices In My Head Are Telling Me To... Use Febreze?

Well, this is it. Time to give up, the advertisers of the world have just flat out won. They've got their doomsday device, they've flipped the switch, and there's no coming back. Gawker has pointed out that A&E is using hypersonic sound beams (scroll down for product description) in their new advertising campaign. Basically, these speakers shoot sound beams that play inside of whatever surface it strikes, meaning your skull.
They're currently using this gimmick for a show about ghosts, beaming ghost voices into your head. This only being the begining of course. Soon enough, you won't be able to walk down the street without jingles rattling around insdie your dome. Then, let's say the government makes this practice illegal. You step into the district attorney's office to complain about the sounds in your head. How crazy are you going to look.

To me this sounds like horrible news.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

There Is No Mention of Rod Stewart

I caught a part of this story which Marco posted about last week while Amanda and I were in Jersey Mike's. To encapsulate for those of you who haven't read Marco's post, this guy calls up 911 in Texas to report a robbery in progress. This isn't happening at his house, but at his neighbors. He tells the 911 operator that he's going over there to shoot these guys with his shotgun, and does it. The kids who worked behind the counter were laughing at the tape of this guy on the news, I think there were gun shots in the background once he walked away from the phone, but I could be inserting that memory myself. I felt chills run down my spine, and had no impulse to laugh. Is laughing wholly inappropriate here, or is it just me?

It reminds me of the scene in No Country For Old Men where Tommy Lee Jones is reading an article about some serial killing couple in California, he quotes the end of the article, "neighbors were alerted when they saw a victim escaping the house wearing only a dog collar". Tommy Lee inserts that they didn't think anything was wrong when they were burying people in the backyard, though. The deputy laughs, and tries to stifle it. Jones tells him it's okay, he had to laugh himself.

Has it gotten so bad that all we can do is laugh, and then laugh hysterically, at such a tragedy. Or am I just being to uptight, having been on the line with 911 myself so recently?

That night has affected me so deeply. It's affected both of us very deeply, and we're still dealing with it. I've had this simmering headache that keeps resurfacing, and my eyelids have these consistent little twitches. Every time Amanda is hurting, or anxious, I think that I could have pulled her more out of the way, that I could have dropped her off in front of the Jackpot, instead of her crossing the street with me.

After my initial attempts to break through Bruce Tedder's door, I lost anger towards the man who hit Amanda. I felt bad for him, thinking how this night would have changed his life forever, in a way wholly different than the way it changed Amanda's or mine. How he was probably in a part of town he didn't know too well, and didn't realize the street he was on dead ended into a parking lot. Then we found out this was going to be his third DUI, and I lost compassion toward him. We received a copy of the police report, saw his blood alcohol level was over twice the limit, and I had no more compassion for this man, none whatsoever. An arrogant bastard who didn't learn his lesson the first two times he got in trouble for drunk driving. Who didn't care, this reaches beyond his bad luck, his not knowing any better, and into hubris, where he deserves everything that happens to him now.

Then last night, Amanda and I were watching one of the most ridiculous movies we've ever seen, Dreamcatcher. In every scene, the preposterousorosity level just ratchets further and further. It operates in a bizarro universe where Tom Sizemore is the straight arrow and Morgan Freeman is the loose cannon. Aliens invade in viral form and then explode out of your ass, and that's only the begining. I'm getting off point though, early in the movie, a character crosses the street and is hit by a car. It was quick and violent, and then there was silence on the other end of the couch. I look over and tears are filling the eyes of the woman I love. And I know who's to blame for this. I know his name, I know his face, and I hate him now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Amanda Was Hit By A Car

Last night, my girlfriend (whom most of you know) and I were standing on the corner, waiting to cross Hillsborough Street. A drunk driver came barreling towards us, I pulled Amanda out of the way in time for her to only be hit on her side, she escaped with minor injuries. Thank God. She walked out of the hospital last night, and I really haven't slept since.

In some happy news, the article on the local news channel's website says Amanda is 18. Sweet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

An Inconvenient Hoax

Yesterday while visiting my parents, my dad brought up the subject of global warming (I think he's still under the impression that Reagan was right about the cow farts). He brought up this recent study that proved Global Warming was caused by bacteria. I found this hard to believe, and told him I'd look it up the next day and figure out how to refute it. (Details about how the authors were intimidated by the politics of scientists etc. were red herrings of conservative hogwash)*.

A quick Google search of "global warming bacteria" quickly pointed me towards what I thought was the case. It was a hoax. Not only a hoax, but a prank, as the author, David Thorpe puts it, "it was meant to show that some sceptics will uncritically grab any evidence casting doubt on most scientists’ view that human activities are the main cause."

Thorpe made up the scientists who participated in his "study". A quick and easy search of the departments at The University of Arizona shows you there's no "Department of Climatology". Also, the fake authors were not employed by the University. I couldn't find a reply to this incident from UofA, though I don't necessarily blame them, I thought it'd be an interesting thing to read.

*Speaking of conservative hogwash, comedian Rush Limbaugh was fooled by this. Not a hard thing to do, no doubt, but even Rush's "scientist" later apologized for it. I couldn't see if he himself retracted the story, you need to be a member of Rush's website to even see any content, and I'm just too good for that.

Al Gore and Stephen Hawking, still smarter than Rush Limbaugh.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Red Skull

I've started writing my CCR overview over at The Red Skull. I'm doing an album a day. Well, The Red Skull is up and running O-fish-ally. Just thought I'd let you know, now, I'm gonna go waste time in front of the Playstation with Grand Theft Auto Vice City Stories.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

In Which I Outline A Plan For Getting This Blog Back Into Shape

October passed with only four blog posts, sorry about that. I'd like to say that I've been busy. That really hasn't been the case. This wasn't planned but I spent two weeks of October not working. The first week being the wonderful beach vacation that Amanda and I went on. The other week being the time spent in Ohio, then the schedule confluence where this week's days off were at the beginning of the week, compounded with the second half of last week spent in Ohio. So, no real excuse for such a small blogging output.

I've felt like I haven't had anything to write about. A feeling that I'm struggling with as I type this. (I'm hoping that somewhere in the middle of the third paragraph, I get struck with some kind of inspiration). Or maybe shortly after I typed that last period. The song that started after the aforementioned punctuation on iTunes was "The First Few Desperate Hours" by The Mountain Goats. It's hard to do anything but pay rapt attention to Mountain Goats songs, getting entwined in the mess of Darnielle's words. Where conversations and short one act plays bloom fully realized in sparkling lo-fidelity. Then I think about John Darnielle's second life as a music critic, his upcoming book about a Black Sabbath record.

This blog is in it's eleventh month, five months into my blogging, I started getting put to paper by the good people at The Raleigh Hatchet (through no shortage of nepotism, me being the music editor's live-in boyfriend). In that span, I haven't written enough formal reviews (seven pieces published in the Hatchet, three "Red Skull" reviews, and two song reviews). So I think I'm going to start reviewing random things off my record shelves, probably keeping them under the "Red Skull" heading for now. I probably don't have enough time before work to finish whatever review I decide to start once I'm done writing this post, so, expect it on Monday (we're trying to have guests for dinner tomorrow, plus football games) I doubt I'll get a chance to write before Monday afternoon. So maybe out of having a goal or mission or whatever will get me writing more than just music reviews, and I can get this blog back up to at least 20 posts a month. Lofty goal, no?

So, here is a preliminary list of things I want to review.
Tom Verlaine- Words From The Front
Mountain Goats- Tallahassee
Old Time Relijun- Catharsis In Crisis (I'm writing this one for the Hatchet for sure)
Dead Kennedys- Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
Graham Parsons- Grevious Angel
Heatmiser- Mic City Sons
Honor Role- Album
The Who- The Who By The Numbers
Stevie Wonder- Down To Earth or Live (one of these records have one side that's pretty scratched up, making it pretty unlistenable by half, unless I can find that other half on the internet, in which case I might review both)
Creedence Clearwater Revival- s/t (their first album is a lost masterpiece, if you can call something with Susie Q and I Heard It Through The Grapevine lost... I might just do a whole Creedence overview, that's getting way ahead of myself, though)

Any suggestions as to others I should review would be appreciated. The list will obviously expand, and I'm guessing the first ones you'll see will be the Tom Verlaine and the Old Time Relijun first, unless I really get into the Creedence idea.

So, as I was getting dressed for work, I got struck with this great idea that pertained to what I've touched on here. To encapsulate it quickly, so I won't be late for work, I want to get all the writers I know to help me turn this idea into a seperate blog. Where writers can write about their favorite records from a critical eye. We'd call the blog The Red Skull, unless someone can come up with a better name, which wouldn't hurt. Anyway, the blog would be dedicated to talking about the music that you're passionate about, not the music that needs promoting because it's coming out in a week, or the band is coming through on tour, which is what I feel like I'm doing sometimes. Though I'm promoting bands that I'm passionate about, still, this would be a different thing, and come from a different place. I'm very excited about it. So, let's get to work, friends.

**Double Appendectomy**
The Red Skull is launched, I'm working on the first review now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cuyahoga Falls On Cuyahoga Falls

Here are some pictures from my trip to Ohio last week. It was my first time back in the Akron area, where I lived for the first seven years of my life, in seven years. I went because my Grandma broke her hip, she had recently came out of surgery when we got there. It was not a good trip, I did get some good pictures, though.

I was also going to have some pictures from last night's Scout Niblett show at the Local 506, the douchebag PR guys that told us they had our names on the list didn't come through, so no press for Niblett. Though I do love her new album, and I recently fawned over her latest video, no write-ups, until these PR guys get their shit together.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Shuffle Game. Round 3.

I was aimlessly clicking around the internet, thinking about my Grandma all laid up in the hospital, and also, how I haven't blogged in a long while. And how it would take something really good to kick me back into blogging gear. (In case you were wondering, my Grandma and Grandpa's house flooded recently when a water main broke, I guess in the basement, details are sketchy... Anyway, while they were moving stuff out of the house into the garage, she tripped and broke her hip and thigh. I'm mulling over ditching work and heading up there with my parents on Thursday).

Oh, right, so something good to kick me back into blogging, Marco has authored another chapter to the Shuffle Game. I think I'll just get right into it.

1.) Describe your first date. Shuffle Says: "Early Grave" by Honor Role
Hah! My first date was with this girl named Jamie. She ended up being a good friend for years afterwards, though our dates were extremely awkward. She would drive me around in her parents huge van, like the kind with felt carpeting and a boat style round window next to the back seat. A few dates in we went to a record store after sitting by the lake for a while, she came around a corner of an aisle, and was surprised to see me in the store, like "oh what are you doing here!? it's so nice to see you!" "um I came here with you, we've been hanging out all day..." Early Grave, indeed.
2.) What is your personal religion?Shuffle Says: "Weird Fishes/Appregi" by Radiohead
Damn. The new Radiohead is so fucking good. Those little fishes on the back of cars means Jesus, right?
3.) What do you think of your current hometown?Shuffle Says: "I'll Cry Instead" by The Beatles
"yes I'm gonna break em in two, I'll show you what a lovin' man will do, but 'till then, I'll cry instead" not sure if that completely sums up Raleigh, or is just an awesome line.
4.) What do you feel guilty about?Shuffle Says: "Rainy Streets" by Superchunk
I'm feeling guilty about Superchunk not having made an album in like seven years.
5.) What embarrasses you?Shuffle Says: "I Will Die 4 U" by Prince
Man, this question has such potential. Let's try another song that might answer it better. How about "Knight Rider" by Of Montreal. I'm embarrassed by my talking car. iTunes doesn't like this question. Next.
6.) What kind of restaurant would you open?Shuffle Says: "Mizu Asobi" by Asobi Seksu
The sprightly Japanese answer to My Bloody Valentine's theme song can mean only one thing "SUSHI"! I've been on a huge Sushi kick of late. I ate at this amazing sushi place in downtown Wilmington called Nina's it was the best sushi I've ever had.
7.) How do you feel about fall?Shuffle Says: "The Sky Is Falling" by Queens Of The Stone Age
Good answer, iTunes. Does that mean we're gonna get rain before the year's over? Hopefully not before the windows in the Saturn are replaced.
8.) What’s your greatest fear?Shuffle Says: "Funeral Song" by Sleater-Kinney
Yeah. That'd be it. Fucking prescient-ass shuffle algorithms.
9.) What’s your biggest weakness?Shuffle Says: "Go With The Flow" by MF Doom
Honestly, this is pretty right on. I might be too laid back about exigent circumstances
10.) What was the last lie you told?Shuffle Says: "Victoria" by The Kinks
"Victoria, was my queen, Viiiiiictorrrrrrrrria!" she never was. Sorry I lied about that.
11.) What’s the biggest thing you learned in school?Shuffle Says: "The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret" by Queens Of The Stone Age
"whatever you doooo, don't tell anyone" it's a good thing to know.
12.) What did you dream your life would be like as a child?Shuffle Says: "Living For The City" by Stevie Wonder
Getting busted as soon as I moved to the big city. What an awesome song.
13.) What was your first serious girlfriend/boyfriend like?Shuffle Says: "Foxy Brown" by The Moaners
That would have been awesome. That would have been terrific. Unfortunately my first serious girlfriend was this goth chick who kept her ex's piss in a big mason jar in her closet. Which I discovered while I was feeding her hamster.
14.) What were you doing 10 years ago?Shuffle Says: "The Heart Of Saturday Night" by Jonathon Richman (Tom Waits cover).
The Jonathon Richman version translates much better to the Saturday night of a troublesome teen than the original, which is better for the late twenties alcoholic on Saturday night.
15.) What will you be doing in 10 years?Shuffle Says: "Hock It" by The Blow
Wow, that doesn't sound like it's gonna be so awesome judging by the title. The lesbians on the prowl at night make it sound a little more interesting.
16.) What does a cry for help from you sound like?Shuffle Says: "Can I Get A Witness" by Marvin Gaye
Best sounding cry for help. ever.
17.) What do you buy at Wal-Mart?Shuffle Says: "So. Central Rain" by REM
Favorite REM song. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, either.
18.) Describe your personal political philosophy Shuffle Says: "The Freedom Rider" by Art Blakey
I'm an old school, seven minute liberal drum solo.
19.) Do You like to travel?Shuffle Says: "Pink Moon" by Nick Drake
Yes. I'm of the generation that can't separate Nick Drake and this song specifically from that fantastic VW ad, which I think is the greatest commercial ever. That commercial made me swoon. This song makes me swoon. This song makes me want to drive out to the country and find lightning bugs right now. I think I'll continue blogging, though.
20.) How do you feel about your coworkers?Shuffle Says: "Masochism World" by Husker Du
Hah! At work I recently compared myself to Michael Jordan when he came back and was on the Wizards and had to carry all those other garbage players. The sous-chef quickly shot back that I was more like Michael Jordan when he played baseball. Touche.

UPDATE: Other blogs participating in the Shuffle Game Jenny and Marco Mike(more to come?)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Random Spirit Lover

Sorry I've been gone for so long. After taking a wonderous vacation, spread over two long weekends, my weeks home were compressed and filled with working and chores and other things that I take more time to do over the course of a full week. So, here's my stab at coming back, reviewing Sunset Rubdown's Random Spirit Lover...
Random Spirit Lover brings you in with a sweet little guitar solo and a piano pounding, setting your expectations for a jaunty little sing along. Seconds pass, and things get dense, and stay that way. It's an album that's thick like a molasses and motor oil cocktail (a molatorhito?). When Sunset Rubdown started out, they (he) sounded like Sebadoh fronted by a Thanksgiving Day David Bowie balloon. All jaunty lo-fi overpowered by Spencer Krug's big emotive voice. Ever since that first album, Snake's Got A Leg, Sunset Rubdown have built intensely ornate additions on top of their foundation. Like Manhattan gargoyles on Lincoln's log cabin.
The whole affair is puddled with pools of reverb. So when all effects are dropped off, like 2/3 of the way through "Upon Your Leopard, Upon The End Of Your Feral Days", and all you hear is Krug, the drums and gentle unadorned electric guitar strum it breaks your heart. Even moreso when he accuses you of "kissing your captor's hands". "Upon Your Leopard..." is a fantastic, towering song that barrels towards and past you, barely giving you time to catch up with it. Almost instinctively you sing along with Krug's "whoah oh oh"'s. They serve almost as reminder to Krug and the band that there are people listening to this record, and it'd be nice to include them in the games they're playing.
"She said ‘My sails were flapping in the wind’, I said ‘Can I use that in a song, she said ‘I mean the end begins’, I said ‘I know, can I use that too?’" There’s something about conversations in songs that I absolutely love. It’s a trick that must be used sparingly and only by someone who knows what he’s doing. Clearly, Spencer Krug is one of those people. The previous quote is dropped in the middle of "The Taming Of The Hands That Came Back To Life", a jaunty little stomper of a song that is more of a narrative where the conversation is part of the story. Whereas "Wicked/Winged Things" is a conversation between two people who’ve seen something they can’t quite explain, like "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" but completely different.
One thing that definitely sets this record apart from previous Sunset Rubdown albums is how this is not a solo side project anymore. Sunset Rubdown is officially a band, and they're tight and virtousic. Guitarist, Michael Doerkson's feverish solos bring to mind Television's Marquee Moon. Like that 30 year old masterpiece, Doerkson's solos weave together lattice skyscrapers atop the purposefully queasy sea of the rest of the band. Creating an island that floats with no avenues. Krug's lyrics eventually pull up, take you around town in verbal gondolas.
So, after trying to avoid mentioning Krug’s other full-time band, I find myself here mentioning Wolf Parade. Both bands have become leviathans. Muscular and imposing figures, with different compositions. Where Wolf Parade are built like a professional wrestler, Sunset Rubdown is more like one of those mountain climbers that don’t use ropes. More sinew than huge biceps and forearms. Not that one is better than the other, the mountain climber can’t pull off a convincing pile driver, and the wrestler can’t, well, climb mountains. One thing is sure though, they both could kick my ass.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Most Beautiful Stop-Gap

Hello. Been back from the beach for a few days now, just busy. And when I wasn't busy I was getting my heart ripped out by The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Best book I've read since Middlesex. I've got a few ideas for posts, and maybe I'll get around to writing at least one of them tomorrow before I go to work. Like a post about Deadwood and it's sort of revolutionary twist on standard dramatic forms all within the framework of a Western. (And though I know that Deadwood's been off the air for a while, I just finished watching the DVDs for the first time. So just bear with me.) I also need to write a full review of the new Sunset Rubdown album (awwwesome!) And pictures from the beach. But I think I'll save that for a comprehensive collection of the two weekends at the beach. I'm just too exhausted tonight, but I though I should just pop in, establish that I didn't wash away into the sea.

Posting videos is normally just a stop gap, but tonight I'm posting a very good video. Maybe the best I've posted yet. This is a song by Scout Niblett. I was very underwhelmed by Niblett when I heard her album last year, this new shit, though. Damn. The video reminds me of the hey day of the "alternative rock" videos that MTV used to play. (It's been so long since those hey days, that it's a cliche to even point out that it's a cliche to say MTV doesn't play videos.) Where was I? Oh yeah, when a music video could come on, and unexpectedly introduce some amazing song that breaks your heart. Anyway, just watch it. It's a perfect song. Oh, and it's got Bonnie "Prince" Billy in it. Can't ever go wrong with him.

Friday, September 28, 2007

London Calling

If, at gun point, you were to force me to pick a favorite band, (outside of the Beatles, because that's too easy.) I'd have to say The Clash. Hands down. No one, outside of The Beatles played with such mastery and ferocity at the same time. (And it might sound weird to think of The Beatles as fierce, but listen to how they play, they put everything into their songs). London Calling is my second favorite album of all time (The White Album being #1). As I was walking to work today, I was humming the title track to London Calling, and when I was done with that, I started humming the next song, "Brand New Cadillac". London Calling is the perfect album. While I have more affection for the White Album, it has two weak songs on it. London Calling has none. Not a bum track in the lot.

Anyway, I was just getting all hyped up about listening to London Calling today, and before I did, I stumbled upon this preview for the upcoming Joe Strummer documentary "The Future Is Unwritten". Which made me freak out even more.

I'm going to the beach tonight, so this will probably be the end of blogging for the month of September. I'm looking forward to October.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

General Betrayus Petreaus Is A Big Boy

The GALL! The nerve! The utter contempt for other human beings! How dare those commies at make a bad pun on the wonderful savior of our situation in Iraq's name.

Seriously? This is a big deal? Betrayus? Is a big deal? What a Crock{er}! Oh my God, another pun on another in a long line of stuffed shirts that have periodically come to save Iraq! Wasn't the War Czar supposed to fix everything?

This is slightly old news, the whole ad in the NYT by MoveOn that so offended the fragile sensibilities of the GOP. A true outrage! A pun on some General's name. What a bunch of lilly livered knee jerk liberals conservatives. It seems so out of character for these brave men and women who threw us gallantly unprepared into this war in the first place. Calling us cheese eating surrender monkeys and french during the lead up to the war. Now they're flailing, we're calling them stupid names, and they can't take it. One thing's for sure, when Fox News anchors called us cheese eating surrender monkeys, we certainly didn't call for a CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION! Seriously, what a bunch of little bitches.

I was going to make a long list of all the "mean names" that conservatives have bandied about regarding liberals, that would take too long, and I'd never fall back asleep. (Our cat, Black Sabbath woke us up an hour ago making a bunch of noise, and I haven't been able to fall back asleep yet.) So, instead of the list, I'll just direct you to Media Matters who spend all their time documenting this kind of douchebaggery. So, good night, morning, whatever.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dead Or Not Dead

Not Dead

In case anyone caught Bush's speach the other day, in reference to the "troubles" in Iraq. Pertaining to the lack of an instant democracy. He said there would be no Nelson Mandela in Iraq, because Nelson Mandela is dead. As I type this, former President Mandela, still alive. Good one, Bushie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dear K-Ville, Stop Fucking Up

While the show has enormous potential, I was kind of disappointed in the reliance on old cop show formula. I was expecting more of a The Shield or The Wire type cop show. Maybe because I thought it would be impossible for someone who was aiming for any credibility, would wrap up a story line in one episode. (Let alone two plot lines that could have made an entire season.)

Now, I'm not completely against formula. If formula is done expertly. Take Law & Order for example. (The original and SVU are the only ones that do the formula thing well, Criminal Intent is straight Colombo style garbage in a better show's clothing.) Law & Order is all about formula, but a formula done so well that you could wrap yourself in it like a comforting blanket. Where The Wire and The Shield both did their best to completely shatter police procedural formats, Law & Order represents the status quo, albeit the epitome of status quo.

K-Ville has pretensions at being like The Shield, a gritty city as a main character, gritty cops with shadowy pasts... yet two chases with shooting first, two car chases, a supposed victim getting her masked pulled off to reveal she would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling police officers... I can only hope that, this being the pilot, K-Ville can still change it's direction a bit. Kill the Starsky & Hutch formula, do more with New Orleans than constantly talk about pride, and less shootouts. No one buys that anymore. And you're definitely not going to bring it back.

So, K-Ville, stop fucking up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hurricane Katrina and The Red Meat Grillin' Grills of Conservative Bloggers

Over at The Midpoint, Marco has been discussing his obsession with The John Locke Foundation's blog (which I won't link to, out of principle). It's hard to wrap your head around the arguments conservatives make when they take the time to write out their screeds (as opposed to the blurtings on television). Now, this might sound like I'm a biased asshole, and I am biased. But the asshole tag definitely belongs to this guy. To encapsulate, Raleigh area blogger, Confederate Yankee (somehow linked to JLF), says we shouldn't work to rebuild New Orleans because it's a waste of money. Why? Because it says so in the Good Book. And you know, science hasn't advanced much since.

To make light of such a disaster, and write off an entire city, is true douchebaggery.

So, it's only fitting that God would tease him a little bit, and throw his grill around the other day when those tornadoes passed by. Only he has the temerity to ask for donations from his readers in order to pay for that poor grill that God took from him.

But it would just go against conservative orthodoxy to give money to people living in a town destroyed by nature (or God, as the case may be), to rebuild their town. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and when you get ahold of said bootstraps, why don't you move your historic town, a few miles away from the water.

In related news, K-Ville is coming on tonight. I'm very interested in seeing it.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pictures From Hatchetfest 2007

There's only one picture that I got Friday night that I actually liked (of Anne from Cantwell, Gomez & Jordan), I included two more from the concert to represent the other bands that played, but I'm not crazy about the pictures themselves. The problem with almost all of the pictures I took there was the complete lack of lighting at Hell. Not to blame Hell, they're not usually a place for shows, and they really didn't have anywhere to hang lights. The concert itself was a lot of fun, though. Scott from Monologue Bombs put on a really great show, there was this moment where he was fucking around at the begining of the show and sang the hook of "That's Amore'" and it totally lifted that song out of the ridiculous schlockiness that I've always associated it with. Scott just has an amazing voice and so much talent, I sometimes have a hard time describing how I feel about someone so talented, and this is one of those cases. It kind of reminds me of this story that Andrew Bird told before he sang "The Happy Birthday Song" the other night. He has this friend who is so musical that it's overwhelming, he can sing "Happy Birthday" and make it sound like the best thing you've ever heard. Scott's like that. Like Bart said, "Everytime I see that guy do something, he makes me a little weepy."

As an added bonus, there are pictures of other local bands playing live in the slideshow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Judge By The Cover

Judge By The Cover is an occasional feature they do at The Hatchet, I'll be submiting some form of this for that. (I'm going to apologize to anyone who happens to be reading this while I'm writing it. I keep on publishing this post and then thinking of something else to say, adding things, publishing and adding on again. I can't guarntee that this will be the last time I edit this post.)

Witchcraft- The Alchemist
Candlelight Records

The Cover: A simple, fairly straightforward drawing of an androgynous witch with ravens and flowers. The praying hands contradicting with the band name, I'd take a guess that this is industrial/metal with "God is fraud/I hate myself and wanna die" desperation lyrics. Though I'm kind of completely thrown off by the complete lack of the color black being completely absent from this cover. So my guess, is highly laughable self serious metal made on the cheap.

The CD inside the cover: I really can't recall the last time I've been this thrown off my horse by an album we've received with out prior knowledge as to what it is. This is fantastic. It's metal, all right, but the kind of metal that hipsters and indie rock kids like myself can get down with. The band is a tight combination of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. The singer has a smooth controlled voice that wouldn't be out of place dueting with Hall or Oates that at the same time recalls Glenn Danzig. (An actual Danzig duet with Hall or Oates would be amazing think of it "oh oh here she comes!, she's a man eater!") The lyrics stick with the old metal precedents, walls of confusion, pots of gold, witches etc. all serving as metaphors for psychic unrest, drug problems, father/mother issues. The Alchemist clocks in at a spartan 45 minutes, recalling the short bursts of great Sabbath albums like Master Of Reality or Paranoid. In no way overstaying it's welcome, The Alchemist gets in and gets out. In every way this album sounds completely out of step with modern metal, without sounding too much like a nostalgia act.

This is what Judge By The Cover is all about, an album transcending biases and music snobbery in spite of it's appearances.

The Pavlovian Nature of "Take My Breath Away", A Question About Race and Kirsten Dunst Movies

This post comes out of a comment that I was writing in a post on Marco's blog that got way too long to just be a comment. The context of this as a comment, in relation to an earlier comment about Fred Thompson*, was my telling Marco that I had finally saw Rambo III based on his suggestion. (Which I covered in more detail here last month.) Marco replied that Rambo III was the ultimate 80's action movie. Though it didn't beat Commando or Red Dawn's right wing propaganda or Top Gun's overt homoeroticism.

It's funny that as a kid, my favorite non-Superman movie was Top Gun. The latent homosticity of Top Gun was completely lost on me. I only knew that whenever "Take My Breath Away" came on, it was time to fast forward until Tom Cruise was riding off on his motorcycle victoriously from fucking Kelly McGillis. This fast forwarding was downright Pavlovian, as when I watched it years and years later, when it was alright to watch a PG-13 sex scene, I fast forwarded as the cheese synthesizers coincided with the wind blowing McGillis' white curtains. To this day I actually have no idea of what really goes on in this scene. I can only assume that it is the single best PG-13 sex scene ever, though I probably will never know for sure.
I've never seen Commando or Red Dawn, as I secretly LOVE these movies, I feel sad to admit it. I was looking up Commando on imdb, and saw that Dan Hedaya** plays the the evil Latin American dictator.
(This is where it becomes ridiculously long for a comment...) It's funny to me how so many actors who clearly aren't Latin play Latin characters in movies. Scarface being the biggest, clearest, most over the top example. And it seems that Hollywood has shifted from it's early ideas on this ("get an Italian to play a Latin, I mean, Italians invented Latin!") to this newer dynamic of getting Arabs to play Latins. (an example would be the guy who plays Farik on Sleeper Cell, ((also of The Mummy)) Oded Fehr.) he's currently playing a Carlos Olivera in the upcoming Resident Evil movie. Clearly, he's not Hispanic, and clearly Olivera is not an Arab name. Is it just because he's brown? So I guess my question is... Is this trend of getting non-Latins to play Latin characters a clear case of racism or a clear case of free trade in a post-globalization world?

*The Fred Thompson comment was pertaining to how Thompson is/was the worst DA they ever had on Law & Order. Steven Hill played that role with true cranky old man virtuosity.
**Pertaining to Dan Hedaya, he was in what was one of the best comedies of the 90's, Dick. If you're unfamiliar with Dick, or maybe doubting me about Dick, I suggest you watch it (for the first time or again) and realize the genius of this movie. Hedaya plays Nixon with such ridiculous jowl shaking paranoia, it transcends parody into absolute realism. Will Ferrel and Bruce McCullouch (of Kids In The Hall fame) play Woodward & Bernstein with cartoonish contempt for eachother, Dave Foley is Haldeman (Kids In The Hall again), and Harry Shearer is G. Gordon Liddy. I could go on and on, but the casting is brilliant, aside from a few 90's comedy cliches, it's hilarious. Right up there with the brilliant and overlooked "Drop Dead Gorgeous".

In the process of getting a picture of Steven Hill as Adam Schiff, I stumbled upon the site of an artist named Brandon Bird. He does pop culture saturated paintings and t-shirts, the one with Lenny Briscoe on it will be ordered and on my person shortly. I would suggest checking out his paintings, I really enjoyed them.

The Money Will Roll Right In

what i'm listening to right now: Capital Radio 2- The Clash

After a month plus of hiatus, Amanda got back on the blogging horse. As has been the case since it's inception, quality far outweighs quantity at The Obscure Object of Desire.

To rehash a point that Amanda made in her rash of blogging yesterday, The Hatchetfest is tonight in Hell, Chapel Hill, NC. It's a complete clusterfuck. Times two, to the nth power. The bands are all Hatchet writer approved local acts, Monologue Bombs, Cantwell Gomez & Jordan, and Jews & Catholics (in the interest of some disclosure, three of the performers tonight, Cantwell, Jews, and Catholics all work for the same company that Amanda does, Ed McKay's Used Books).

In other news, my brother Dan and I spent a couple of hours last night trying to figure out how to loop samples on his new recording console, we are trying to make a song, using a sample of the drums from "Got To Have It" by Soul President and another as yet undecided drum track. On top of that, Dan is going to totally rock the fuck out on guitar, bass, and keys. Once we figure out what the hell we're doing, and finish this song, look forward to hearing it on this blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Wicked/Winged Things

this is the first draft of my review of the new Sunset Rubdown song, "Wicked/Winged Things" on the upcoming Random Spirit Lover. I spent a day conflicted as to whether I should download the leak of the whole album off the internet and just review that, seeing as this song was so damn amazing. I ultimately decided against it, though it essentially takes a good chunk of what I would have put in the album review and puts it to press, rendering it useless if I were to review the album proper. At any rate, this should appear in the next Hatchet after revisions and editing.

Download This Song From Jagjaguwar

Spencer Krug must be one of those crate digging/file sharing maestros, that guy you know who played that Velvet Underground demo for you and spoke rapturously about it, noting the differences in how "The Ocean" unfolds over 10 minutes in the live version, whereas the one on VU comes in at a scant 5 minutes. Krug brings this love of the process of song into his creative output. From his first Sunset Rubdown album, Snake's Got A Leg songs that months later appeared on Wolf Parade albums in full blossom were little bedroom freakout ballads. On last year's "Shut Up I Am Dreaming", Krug returned to a few songs adding virtuosic guitar players, keeping the shambolic keyboards and flexing his Wolf Parade muscles in different ways.

These new songs from his new upcoming album, Random Spirit Lover are all a continuation of this process. Where fanboys inherit the earth. The new single, "Wicked/Winged Things" saw release earlier this year as an mp3 on in a different, slightly more subdued version. Sunset Rubdown sound even tighter than before, rivaling the towering majesty of Krug's other full time band, Wolf Parade. Every new thing from these Canadian boys makes me terribly nervous before I hear them. How can they keep it up? How can they release three solo albums between the two lead singers, and at least two more where Krug was a contributing member. When is the shark going to jump the pool full of motorcycles? When will they run out of juice. As these songs from Random Spirit Lover, and last month's Wolf Parade show (which was heavy with new songs) at the Cat's Cradle can attest; it hasn't happened yet.

"Wicked/Winged Things" slowly creeps in on the listener. Soap opera synths whisper the song into life as blissfully reverberated guitars tremble like the handheld harps of cloud bound angels. Krug asks whether these angels are angels, white as the Shroud of Turin, or are they just smoke? If these angels are more than just "the white air of Poseidon", they're not perfect. Here is where Krug knocks me flat. As the band pounds out a backdrop for volcanic lead guitar, he draws a straight line through the "chaotic and blind" flight pattern, as chaos is luck, luck is love, and love is blind. Not as much of a straight line as a circle. Is it a snake eating itself? Isn't that just what a circle is? In the end, as the chaos built around the song begins to fade, Krug puts the matter to rest, "oh I say I've seen them, it's just smoke".

Where the poet, Billy Collins wondered what angels do when not dancing on the head of a pin, Krug's is content to question only if they're there.