So is making a mix-tape for another guy's girlfriend a punchable offense?
Red House Painters "Have You Forgotten"
Small Factory "Hi Howard I'm Back"
I haven’t made a mix-tape (or cd) for a lady in years. I don’t have to; I’m wedded. I made my wife about one a month, though, back in the early days of our courtship. I never got too overtly romantic or anything with them, but I still would get slightly embarrassed when somebody else heard one of them, or even saw a tracklisting. But then, I’m a consistently awkward fellow. Listening to somebody else’s mix tape isn’t the same as reading their love letters, but it can feel similarly uncomfortable. That discomfort can be lessened, though, if the music is great, or if you don’t really know the person who put it together.
Since late 2000 I’ve been borrowing a mix cd that some guy made for a friend. I’m not quite sure who the dude was, but he definitely had some romance tangled up in his intentions. There’s nothing all that blatant (well, except for the last song, Adorable
’s “Homeboy”), but the sensitive indie-pop that makes up the bulk of the thing is dripping with wist and tenderness. At first I felt sort of weird listening to this thing, but I quickly got over that. Almost every song on here is, at the minimum, pretty good; much of it is great, and, with the exception of “All the Umbrellas in London” and a Pavement
song, it’s all stuff I didn’t already own. But so, we were listening to it in a car coming home from a trip to Gainesville, and I, thinking it was excellent, and not knowing it was some attempt at a romantic mix-tape by some other guy, asked if I could borrow and burn it. The friend said yes, and over four years later I still have the damn thing. I really need to get this shit back to her.
Among the twenty or so songs on this disc are the three offered up here today. “Have You Forgotten?” may be my favorite song by the Red House Painters
, who are equally capable of creating boring, maudlin dreck and songs of pristine beauty. This is one of the latter, obviously. “Hi Howard I’m Back” comes from Small Factory
, a band I was never into but that Jerkwater Johnson
) was passionate about. And Adorable
’s “Homeboy” (a song I would never put on a tape for a girl unless I knew the deal was closed) is one of those songs I used to hear all the time on Album 88 when I was fifteen. It’s simultaneously awesome and awful. Oddly enough, I heard it for the first time since high school at a dance club in Gainesville the night before borrowing this cd.
this snow is some ridiculous bullshit
7 Year Rabbit Cycle "Meditation"
7 Year Rabbit Cycle "Forgotten South"
7 Year Rabbit Cycle "Lightning Bugs"
Rob Fisk and Kelly Goodefisk, formerly of Deerhoof
, love this world what surrounds them. Their art, both visual and, musically, as 7 Year Rabbit Cycle
, is largely focused on issues impacting the environment. Their label
calls them “eco-terrorist hobbit rock”. Please, don’t let that dissuade you. Their latest album, Wind Machines
, features some of the craggiest, most imposing noise-rock around. Much of the record feels improvised, sounding like Unwound
jamming into an over-driven eight-track, or something. Everything’s slightly abrasive; the vocals are shouted and tinny, the guitar is shrill, and the bass is as thick and heavy as the god-damned two-and-a-half feet of snow I had to shovel off our car yesterday. And though I’ve never been big on mixing blatant politics and rock music, 7YRC
’s ranting doesn’t bother me, for the most part. Their passion is as palpable as their anger, and their politics most definitely aren’t being used to garner attention or make them look cool. And the packaging is great, with three gatefolds and several pages of lyrics and Fisk’s artwork.
Anyway, Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu
sings on a couple of songs, and Steve Gigante, of Dark Inside the Sun
, and occasional member of Brother JT
’s back-up band, lends his haphazard hand, as well. Stewart’s demented screaming on “Meditation” is as ridiculously over-the-top as anything he’s ever done with Xiu Xiu. Gigante’s reliably Jandekian singing on “Forgotten South” matches the listless, droning noise-folk that makes up the bulk of the song. And although the last few days haven’t been suicidal, this damn Northeast winter certainly does make me miss the South more than usual.
You can buy a copy of Wind Machines
two more from the wedding cds
Chairmen of the Board "Give Me Just a Little More Time"
Swinging Medallions "Double Shot of My Baby's Love"
My parents, never big music fans, owned maybe forty lp’s when I was a kid. There were a couple of Bob Dylan albums my dad denied buying, a Mamas and the Papas boxed set, about ten Chuck Mangione records (which I’ve never understood), a few classical discs, and then a couple dozen beach music and Motown compilations and greatest hits records. As small-town teens in a pre-hippie 1960’s North Carolina, my folks were required to love what they called beach music. And, of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, as this stuff is some of the greatest music ever made. My parents would spend their summers and spring breaks shagging to the Tams and the Showmen down at Kure Beach (or, when they had money, Myrtle), back when shagging was a dance, and not something you did with only one very special person that you will love completely and totally forever in perpetuity. And anyway, my parents have never “shagged”; they make love
. But so, the Showmen were one of the pivotal groups of that scene; their song “39-21-46” was a huge regional hit, and a personal favorite of mine. The Showmen’s incredible lead singer, General Johnson, left Raleigh for Detroit in ’68, where he hooked up with the legendary songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland. H-D-H had just left Motown to start up their own label, and one of their first signings was Johnson’s group Chairmen of the Board. The amazing “Give Me Just a Little More Time” grew out of this relationship. The General gives one of the sincerest and most impassioned vocal performances this side of Daniel Johnston, or maybe Toni Braxton. It’s superb. General Johnson and Chairmen of the Board still play shows, I believe, in and around the coastal Southeast. Maybe if you’re lucky you can catch them on a triple-bill with the Tams
and the Embers
The Swinging Medallions are also pretty rad. They’re from Georgia, like me, and the world would be a much better place if every “frat-rock” band still sounded like them. “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” was the first song at every one of our Friday night dance parties back in ’98 and ’99. It’s killer.
You can buy the Chairmen of the Board's greatest hits here
, and a Swinging Medallions compilation here
Comets On Fire - Sub Pop Page
Comets' Own Page (rarely ever works)
song: "The Unicorn/Ice Age"
I found this CD on Ebay (listed as "Rare Comets On Fire Cd") and really expected it to be a burned CD somebody threw together. It had some songs on it that I didn't have so I shelled out $13 for it, fuck it - ya know? Well it arrives today and turns out to be a 6 song, 68 MINUTE ep! It is numbered 929/1000 on the back, and has a hand drawn Sub Pop logo on the insert, so I'm thinking this is a European Tour Single. Fucking sweet. I ripped open the package and immediately my office reeked of some bunk ass 'dro. Obviously packed by a dedicated Comets' and stoner rock fan.
For those not familiar, COF are a band of awesome dudes from southern Cali who will blaze a trail through your mind as they surf on their AZTEC shields spreading magic dust nuggets all over your frontal lobes. The thickest of thick ass bass, a drummer that has the stamina of Keith Moon, guitars and oscillators that will numb even the most active of cerebral centers, and a hippy sensibility that allows them to drone the fuck out if they feel like it - blast your ass if they feel like it - or most importantly just fuckin jam the shit. The track I included here "the Unicorn/Ice Age"
is the combination of two songs of theirs that was recorded live on WFMU in the summer of 2003. Lay back, and enjoy this 9+ minute (2nd shortest song on the record) giant slayer
I'm Doing Better Than the Cars
Guided by Voices "Sucker of Pistol City"
In the wake of ‘99’s Do the Collapse
, TVT released a three-song Guided by Voices ep called Plugs for the Program
that was exclusive to Boston’s Newbury Comics
record-store chain. It was basically a single for “Surgical Focus”, one of the few highlights from that lackluster album. It had three songs, a different mix of “Surgical Focus”, a demo version of “Picture Me Big time”, and one previously unreleased song called “Sucker of Pistol City”. I don’t think “Sucker” has been released anywhere else, and even though copies of the ep remain plentiful (and cheap) at Newbury locations, this song is still something of a rarity. It’s not great, or anything, but it is far better than much of what made it onto Do the Collapse
, and definitely worth listening to.
Sigur Ros "Staralfur"
I finally saw The Life Aquatic over the weekend. Based on some friends’ comments, I was expecting the second coming of Intolerable Cruelty. Although much of it was troubling, it was still a fine film, overall. Not Wes Anderson’s best work, but not a bad movie, by any stretch of the imagination. The soundtrack was a bit disappointing, however, as for the first time an Anderson movie didn’t introduce me to some lost classic that I had never heard before. The music was great, largely, but none of the songs he employed were new for me. The Portuguese versions of Bowie songs were beautiful, though, even if a bit contrived. Looking over the track listing for the soundtrack album, I’m surprised by the absence of Sigur Ros’s “Staralfur”, the music in the climactic confrontation with the jaguar shark. So here it is. Please dig it.
"Staralfur" comes from Sigur Ros's 2000 album Agaetis Byrjun
. You can buy a copy from Amazon here
. You can also get a copy of the Life Aquatic OST from them
, as well.
take my arms and i'm an angry jew
Jane Morgan "Sounds of Silence"
Jane Morgan "Monday Monday"
Jane Morgan was an actress and singer back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. She was an easy listening, big band, Kay Starr type of songstress, the sort of stuff you’d expect June Lockhart or Barbara Billingsley to listen to. In the mid ‘60’s, struggling to stay relevant in the wake of rock’n’roll, Morgan’s label had her redo contemporary rock hits in her own style, kind of like those last few Johnny Cash records. Unlike those last few Johnny Cash records, though, Fresh Flavor
is unintentionally hilarious. Okay, maybe not hilarious, but you listen to “Sounds of Silence” and tell me there’s not something unsettling about it. It’s just sort of creepy and wrong. She takes a normally beautiful, ominous little chestnut and turns it into something awkward, soulless, and desperate. There is some charm in that desperation, though, and instead of feeling sorry for old Jane, I’d like to hold her tenderly in my arms and let her know that everything’s going to be okay. You don’t need to impress us, Jane; we love you just the way you are.
You can buy a copy of Fresh Flavor
on a twofer disc through Amazon
Also, appropriate of nothing, here’s Bryan Adams
’ “Summer of ‘69”
why don't you do yourself in
The Clean "Whatever I Do Its Right"
The Clean "Getting Older"
Not much time to write today, but I wanted to throw a couple songs up anyhow. The Clean
, of course, are legendary as hell, and completely deserve pretty much every accolade that’s ever been tossed their way. Not just a great band from New Zealand, and not just a great post-punk band, the Clean
, at their best, are about as good as rock music gets. ”Getting Older”
and ”Whatever I Do It’s Right”
are two of their best songs, and probably my favorites.
reissued an expanded edition of Anthology last year; it gets our highest possible recommendation. You can buy a copy through Insound
Fucking A Watermelon (scene deleted)
"Any Major Dude Will Tell You" ***This Just In: My first post on this thing and I botch it. Beloved reader/listener/fantasy football goddess/drunken fact checker Hillary noted that this song is actually Wilco covering Steely Dan (from album Pretzel Logic). Thats what you call getting a proverbial music bitch slap. Oh well, I don't know shit about Steely Dan, should have contacted Rippy for authority. Below is my dumb ass before knowing said fact, I really sound like a dumbass. Just for that, I will post either the Steely Dan version or another rare Wilco track sometime tonight. Either way, this is a good version of the song.
So I bet you are scratching your head right now. His first freaking post on the extension and he is posting a song from the damned ME, MYSELF, & IRENE
soundtrack!?!? FUCK HIM.
Well I hope to prove you wrong with this one. This is a pretty rare Wilco track from a JIM CAREY movie?!?! Its before these guys started getting incredibly awesome and experimental, but this song shows a good transition from their older Americana days to the Summer Teeth
style of songs. Its poppy and somewhat quirky, its got their older distinctive organ sound, but you can hear a new direction for them. Listening to the lyrics, you can almost tell that Tweedy was purposefully trying to piss someone off at the huge record label that released this. The bridge/chorus transition and the organ licks on this song seal it. I had read about it but never heard, until I blindly stumbled over it on this weird match for a soundtrack. Anyways, it has one of the best titles of any Wilco song I have yet to come across either way. Seems like this would be a good one to drive to...this major dude digs.
You can buy this soundtrack on the infranet, here Amazon
convict movies make her horny
and Iris DeMent "In Spite of Ourselves"
and Iris DeMent "(We're Not) The Jet Set"
I got hitched a few weeks ago. I can be pretty picky about my music, and we both didn’t want some typical cheesy wedding dj making a mockery of our reception, so my wife and I decided to have complete control of the music. We made up a list and sent it to two people we know and trust, and who have high-speed internet connections, and asked them to burn the cds for us. We also asked our parents what songs they would like us to add to the list. My father-in-law requested ”In Spite of Ourselves”
, by John Prine
and Iris DeMent
, a song I had heard before but didn’t know well enough to remember the lyrics. Due to the time crush right before the wedding, we weren’t able to listen to the cds until a day or two before the event. If we knew what DeMent's first two lines were we never would have let it on the playlist. And, of course, the dj played it as we were cutting the cake, for maximum embarrassment. Fortunately someone got the dj to cut it right when DeMent started to sing. Still, it’s a great song, at once genuinely funny and touching, without being too schmaltzy.
From the same album comes this cover of the George Jones
/ Tammy Wynette
duet “(We’re Not) the Jet Set”
. This version isn’t too bad, but it can’t touch the original.
You can buy In Spite of Ourselves
Laughter, Hatred, Half-Dead, Naked; Where is the Solution?
The National Gallery "Barbaric, Classical, Solemn"
The National Gallery "Self Portrait"
Maybe more so than with any other recent youth trend, great things could happen when otherwise “unhip” folks tried to jump into the late ‘60’s hippie miasma. In 1968 the National Gallery
released a great, long forgotten psych-pop record inspired by the paintings of Paul Klee, an early 20th century Swiss expressionist (and protagonist of a good short story by Donald Barthelme). Appropriately enough, they called it “The Interpretations of the Paintings of Paul Klee”
. Combining ridiculous lyrics with guileless, sometimes child-like vocals, this record is like a brilliant cross-section between Arcesia
, the United States of America
, and Up With People
. It also resembles the humorous hippie knock-offs found in the contemporary film The President’s Analyst
and Mr. Show
’s Jesus Christ Superstar
parody "Jeepers Creepers". Apparently there was no information about the band members whatsoever in the liner notes of their only album. It’s almost impossible to tell if they were sincere, yet naïve, young flower children with a love for early 20th century art, or if they were cynical pros trying to exploit the popular tastes of the time. Chuck Mangione
produced the album, and might have written or performed on the songs, and that probably tips it towards the latter of those two options. The National Gallery were from New York, and there are hints of their influence on fellow Empire Statesmen the Ladybug Transistor
and the Essex Green
. If this was rereleased today, I could see it going over big with the sort of people who went nuts over the Free Design
and the United States of America
Special Bonus MP3
: Jackie Brenston
's "Rocket 88"
. Maybe the first ever rock and roll song. Written by Ike Turner
. Intro ripped off for "Good Golly Miss Molly"
and countless other songs. Directly responsible for Breaking Benjamin
and all this other great rock music that we so love.
Calvin Johnson's Side Project? FUCK NO, JACKASS!
The Go! Team "Junior Kickstart"
The Go! Team "Huddle Formation"
I actually just had the damnedest
time trying to pick out two songs to put up here. So, I guess that means if you like this, the whole fucking album is straight up shit on this caliber. I like every song on this album.
For the first song, I wanted to give you guys one like saturday morning, eating cereal, watching Pole Position or some such shit. Here's "Junior Kickstart"
For the second one, I wanted one with the 14 year old black girls singing. It actually turns out there seems to be only one singer, but she is in fact black, but she is not 14. She is an adult, but her name is Ninja. The rest of the band members go by regular old names though. They are from England. This one's called "Huddle Formation" (not "information" - the dude I downloaded it from got the title wrong).
You can buy a copy of Thunder, Lightning, Strike
Midwest "What Fun Life Was"
Midwest are (were?) a group of Italians in their early twenties with a predilection for Nick Drake, Will Oldham, and American country-art-rock. They released a good album of folk- and country-influenced pop on Homesleep Records
in 2002. Town and Country
was going to be released in America by a record label called DCBaltimore2012
before that company fell apart. The record’s a very nice, mellow, pastoral affair, and it’s a shame it was never released domestically. It holds up well when compared to similar folks like Lambchop
, the Summer Hymns
, and the Bruces
. ”What Fun Life Was”
is the stand-out; Matteo Gambacorta‘s voice, its deeply accented English cloaking the already cryptic chorus in an extra layer of mystery, sounds at once depressed and fulfilled, resigned and satisfied, innocent and world-weary. It’s a beautiful song that evokes a similar response to that acoustic Green Day
song, but without all the schmaltz and manipulation. You can order a copy of Town and Country
at Homesleep’s website
I'll Listen to Bricks Whenever I Want To
Small 23 "Finding It Hard to Believe That There Was a Floor"
The Archers of Loaf
were my favorite band in high school. Their first album, Icky Mettle
, left an indelible mark upon me when I was sixteen. If I had to make up a list of the bands that had the most impact upon me personally, they’d probably be at the top. But this isn’t about them. This is about another band that was very closely linked to the Archers, but never garnered a fraction of the attention or success that they did. Small 23
was also from Chapel Hill, and they also signed to California’s Alias Records in 1992. They even shared a member with the Archers, briefly; Eric Bachmann, the Archers’ lead signer, was a founding member of Small. Another member, drummer Chuck Garrison, was the original drummer and namesake for Chapel Hill’s most notable band, Superchunk
. But, for the most part, they played out their career with little encouragement and less respect. To be honest, though, they didn’t deserve much more than they got. They really weren’t that great, especially in comparison to their better-known hometown colleagues. Their first album, 1993’s True Zero Hook
, was their best. Unlike Icky Mettle
, it wasn’t anything spectacular, or even all that distinctive. There were a few good songs among the typical scruffy early ‘90’s indie rock, though, and chief among them is the acoustic “Finding It Hard to Believe That There Was a Floor”. It’s nothing extraordinary, just a nice, pleasant, pretty little song by a modest, competent little band. Still, though, it’s one I’ve found myself repeatedly going back to over the years. You can probably pick up a copy for a quarter or two through Amazon
I Like Everything I Get in the Mail for Free
Great Plains "Directions to the Party"
Great Plains "Letter to a Fanzine"
So of course, despite all my periodic grumblings, Athens is actually a pretty awesome town to live in, particularly if you are of a certain age. A small college town can start to wear on you as you age, but when you’re in or around the college years the benefits to living in such a town probably outweigh the greater opportunities afforded by a big city. I went to school in New York for a year and, due in part to being completely overwhelmed and underfunded, didn’t accomplish or experience a fraction of what I had hoped to. Athens, on the other hand, is fairly easy to get a reasonable handle on. It takes little time or effort to get around, almost everything is dirt cheap, and, thanks to the strong music and arts scene, the social drop off from New York to Athens isn’t quite as unfathomably massive as one would think. And really, what’s the benefit to having a good rock show in town every night of the week if you can’t afford to go to a single one? Athens is way too insular and self-congratulatory, of course, but it’s not a bad place to waste your extended adolescence.
What’s this got to do with the Great Plains
? Nothing, directly. They were from Columbus, Ohio. But, like the Embarrassment
, the Great Plains are one of those quintessential college-town indie-rock bands, canonized locally but largely ignored everywhere else. If these were guys I’d see around town every day, serving me pizza, or filling my glass, I’d probably love them beyond all reason. As is, they were a fine band who made a few good records and a handful of great songs back in the 1980’s. And, though they were operating a decade and a half before my heyday, the college experience proves universal. "Directions to the Party" reminds me of countless nights spent outside the old ER, with friends trying to figure out how to get to houses of people we barely (or sometimes didn’t) know, in hopes of keeping the night from ending at a marginally respectable hour. Some of the lyrics to "Letter to a Fanzine" might be outdated, but the general sentiments should still ring true to adherents to the underground / indie-rock non-culture. Ohio-based scene archivists Old 3C
released a wonderful two-disc Great Plains compilation called Length of Growth, 1981-1989
in 2000, and that’s where I got these two from. You can buy a copy of the record from them
, or through Amazon
The Great Plains’ head guy, Ron House, is something of an underground legend in Ohio, due to his work in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and also to his 1990’s group Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
, who some folks went nuts over ten years ago or so. I don’t know much about TJSA
, but I have a brother who dug ‘em, and lots of minor-league journos bore their torch. I remember hearing a few songs on the radio when I was in high school, but nothing that really stuck out. I’m interested in checking them out, though, and they’ve been on my list for a long while now.