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!