Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Wanna know what xgau (and Carola Dibbell) thought of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The ever-growing library at www.robertchristgau.com is happy to tell you.
Just made a CD-R for the aforementioned little sister, who's in town this week. The last CD-R she gave me featured Alex Chilton, TV On The Radio, Jay-Z, Korn, Usher, Throwing Muses, Matmos, Abigail Grush, Wrathchild and Gillian Welch among others, so don't assume this is some stereotypical "music education" older brother shit. These days it's just a chance for us to share the music we're enjoying with each other. Thanks to the New England education she's getting, her canon has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years (she's listening to OPERA now, wtf. crazy).

Black Sabbath, "Sweet Leaf"
Cult, "She Sells Sanctuary"
Drive Like Jehu, "New Unison"
Missy Elliott, "I'm Really Hot"
Fleetwood Mac, "Everywhere"
Galaxie 500, "Tell Me"
Joy Division, "Transmission"
Kitchens Of Distinction, "Mainly Mornings"
Les Savy Fav, "Our Coastal Hymn"
Grant McLennan, "Simone And Perry"
Nas, "Star Wars"
Placebo, "Special Needs"
Sonic Youth, "Schizophrenia"
Turbonegro, "Get It On"
Verlaines, "Heavy 33"
Mario Winans feat. Enya & P. Diddy, "I Don't Wanna Know"
Your Enemies Friends, "Back Of A Taxi"

My options were limited since I try not to repeat bands and I've been giving her tapes for about six years, but I think this tracklisting actually does a good job of conveying the sounds I've been enjoying lately. I'm going to be making her at least two CD-Rs from the stuff y'all have been sending me.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Recent realizations:

1) I really enjoy hearing friends laugh while listening to Bill Hicks.

2) Still not psyched for Kerry? Finding yourself fatalistically assuming Bush is gonna win? Nip that shit in the bud FAST (it's just what the right wants - mobilization and enthusiasm is KEY for us to have a chance) by looking at pictures of Kerry where he's not offering that awkward grin and put on some FUGAZI. "Bulldog Front" should be the theme song! Fugazi should tour with him! Drop the facade and get aggro!

Ahistorical - you think this shit just dropped right out of the sky
My analysis: it's time to harvest the crust from your eyes
To surge and refine, to rage and define ourselves against your line
So sorry friend but you must resign
You want to figure it out we'll throw down, we'll throw down
Wou want to figure it out well throw down your bulldog front
Bold bold mouthtalking not so bold now that you've eaten your own
Lips flecked, mouthspecked you strip the skin right off of the bone
And I would never say you act without precision or care,
But it's all attention to armor, to the armor you wear so well
Let's knock and check to see if there's somebody home

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Of all the crazy-ass Canibus lyrics in existence, I believe my favorite is "Master Thesis." I'm under the impression his constipated voice hinders the power of his words (I've yet to hear it myself), but on paper this stuff feels like a moon-by-moon voyage across the solar system and back.

They cooked on symmetrical stoves
with my logo etched above the hole where they inserted the coal
And they barbecued birds to the bone
They burned incense in a Buckminster Fuller type dome
I talked to Mr. Fuller over the phone
and he said he had a contract to rebuild Rome
said he didn't want to do it alone
I told him I was busy writing poems
but I'll think about going

in the same track he mentions getting into Nigerian jazz after seeing K-Pax, going to school with Dr. Scholls in '86 and "boos [turning] into applause" while "in the studio with James Lipton." Respect.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Remember when I said that Trouble Everyday are predominantly interacting with bands I like to the point where it's downright eerie?

Check this out.

I just found out tonight that Philly's finest are going to be doing a few west coast dates with Hot Snakes in late september/early october.

For the last few weeks I've been planning to celebrate my birthday (on Oct. 4th I'll be capping off my first quarter century) by going up to Philly to see The Mountain Goats on the 6th and, on the 7th...Hot Snakes.

VH1 Classic. Time after time.

Eddie Murphy, "Party All The Time": Save Coming To America, I think it could be argued that "Party All The Time" is more inspired and entertaining than anything Murphy has done since (Klump fans may feel otherwise). This dramatic re-enactment of the recording process imagines a fantasy world so beautiful and heroic that I resent any documentarian effort to capture the reality of song production. Songs should be performed live, new singers should run down the steps shaking hands and enter the recording room AFTER the song has already started. If the celebrity producer is feeling the track, he should feel free to run in the room, grab a bass and join in for the closing chorus before joining the singer for a wink and an "ok" sign. From ILX: There's one scene of Rick [James] staring intently through the glass, fists clenched as if watching the delicate fusion of highly volatile nuclear materials. - Alex In NYC.

Do a shot every time Rick or Eddie delivers a reverbed clap.

Billy Ocean, "When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going": It's not clear beforehand, but by the time Danny DeVito delivers his sax solo, Billy Ocean is visibly wincing and continues to do so for the rest of the video. Poor guy.

Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time": When the boyfriend (who I believe was her manager, he's in all her stuff) announces he that he can't go with her...that's when I lose it (if I haven't already) Between the unsympathetic reaction to her new haircut, the childhood memories, his startled reaction to her departure and the single, solitary tear he leaves us with, this video tugs the heartstrings hard. Song's great too.

Eddie Money, "Shakin'": I've previously mentioned my curiousity as to when MTV realized that attractive people look better in videos than ugly guys. Some people might argue that dorks have always been present and always will be, but one viewing of this clip will make evident that somewhere around that fifth Duran Duran video things really started to change. Money's facial contortions in this video achieve a grotesquery far more disturbing than the homeliness offered by Steve Perry and that freak from REO Speedwagon. Miming a guitar stutter with his mouth (to the delight of Beavis & Butthead, if you recall), bulging his eyes out, scrunching up his face and jerking around the shotgun seat while watching his Hispanic hottie kiss a hood ornament, Money has the sexual magnetism of a Martin Prince-Nelson Muntz amalgam and even less physical grace. Closing your eyes and shaking your slackjaw is not hot. Never was.

Jesus & Mary Chain, "Just Like Honey": Everyone on this set, including the cameraman, appears to be nodding off.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Thanks to my infinitely more computer-knowledgeable sis, I've now mastered the font-size of this site. Yay. Substanial postage tomorrow.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Go here and watch "Y Control," the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs video directed by Spike Jonze (or as Karen called him at the show in Philly, "ADAM, MY LOVE!!!").

There will be no better video this year. Even the necessary MTV edit will be better than any other. Sweet merciful crap.
Courtesy of rockcriticsdaily (courtesy of radioweissblog), a hysterical transcript from Sarah Hepola of an Usher teleconference.

Usher: And as a child, I said to my grandmother, "You know, one day I'm going to own one of these Krispy Kremes. I've got to make some money," you know?

Q: And so when you're on the road, do you get to indulge in some Krispy Kremes?

Usher: No.

Q: No?

Usher: No.

Further reaffirming I'd probably throw my notebook at him if I was in the same room, Jim DeRogatis inexplicably tries to bring up R. Kelly's extracurricular shenanigans while in the House Of Usher. While I respect Jimmy D giving that infamous video evidence to the cops (a crime is a crime and should be punished), the dude needs to SHUT UP about it already. I know you're not afraid to ask Yellowcard the hard questions, dude. We all do.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

So yeah, why does Jim DeRogatis get me all edgy?

Michael Daddino's excellent review of Kill Your Idols for the Seattle Weekly ends with a biggie: In spite of his intentions, for DeRogatis the rock and roll canon is a closed system, and in his attempts to escape it, the more he struggles, the more he strangles. The guy is a classic example of the loudmouthed "rebel" who doesn't realize how conservative, knee-jerk and close-minded he is. There's endless examples of him claiming that he's down for debate, that he wants to smash the system, yadda yadda, but I've rarely read someone who is more dismissive of things outside his realm of personal pleasure for the most superficial, unthoughtful, pompous reasons. There's nothing wrong with having a limited locus of interest or liking something because it reminds you the shit that moved you in high school, just be SELF-AWARE about it.

A big fault of mine is that I get resentful towards people who remind me of embarassing attitudes and ideas I had in the past (you'd think I'd be more sympathetic but no). When DeRogatis throws up straw-man arguments about the "rock critic elite" or rips on fans for not sharing his rockist values and basically does all the shit that got me branded a "music nazi" in high school, I get angry and flabbergasted that somebody who's had a decade more on this planet pulls this kind of shit. What can you say about a guy whose most hailed work is a debate with Stephan Jenkins (a debate which he only won because the 3EB frontman announced that they were "as DIY as Fugazi" - this is like winning a sprint because the other guy had a stroke two thirds of the way through, folks)? What can you say about a guy who claims to celebrate the "Dionysian" values of Lester Bangs but also writes an article in Salon about how Britney Spears should be a better role model for his daughter?

There's countless quotes I could share that give me little aneurysms, but basically if you remind me of a jealous high schooler who doesn't realize how received his "wild card" perspective is AND of the increasing number of smug older folks I encounter in life who've decided the world has nothing more to teach them (admitting ignorance good, PRIDE in ignorance bad), you're going to rank pretty high on my Shut Up Now Shut Up Now Shut Up Now list.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Well, I WAS going to write about why Jim DeRogatis bugs me so much today, but I just listened to R. Kelly's Happy People and after 11 tracks of discofied dippiness of the highest order I can't seem to focus on anything. That thing should be called Happy Pills! It's too monochromatic and filler-filled to make my top 10 probably, but after our Weatherman the Pied Piper tells you its "love o' clock" for the umpteenth time, it's hard to get your mind to see things otherwise (unless you're fighting the good cheer, good times, good people, happy people, which I just don't do). After a good night's sleep I'll probably be able to rationally discuss my disagreement with another writer's philosophy, but right now I just wanna, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step, step...

If you would like to complain to R. Kelly about my 24-hour transformation into a flower child, his number is 1-2-3-L-O-V-E. Smooth operators are standing by. Now step, step, step, step, step, step...

Monday, August 23, 2004

Me telling the F-Ups to F-off in Stylus. My god, where has all the great pop-punk gone? Man, do I need to check out Yellowcard for a fix? All my heroes and heroines of 2002, we need you. Supposedly the Donnas, Good Charlotte and All-American Rejects should be releasing albums later in the year or at the beginning of 2005. Desaparecidos was supposed to have a new album, Payola, out already except Denver Dalley's really excited to do his Conor-free Statistics thing (which I can't be arsed to check out) and Conor wants to do some more Rolling Thunder Revue tours and some CSN shows with M. Ward and that guy from My Morning Jacket who sounds like Neil Young doing a Baby Jessica McClure imitation. I can see why he'd been inspired to overcompensate, but two Bright Eyes albums doesn't not equal one Desaparecidos album, sorry.

And Kelly Osbourne, whose Shut Up! still sounds as great as it did when it came out...I have no idea if we'll ever hear from you again, and whether or not what we hear will be as good without the same collaborators. I keep my fingers crossed.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The 25 Best "Alternative" albums of All Time, according to Anthony Miccio, State College Area High School Senior, as published in the Centre Daily Times Off Centre teen page in April 1998.

#1) Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat

'This album is arguably [their] best: noisy guitars, caustic vocals, and sprawling rants including a 17-minute monster called "Sister Ray" that never lets up its propulsive beat. Way before its time.'

#2) R.E.M., Reckoning

'An underrated classic that's greater, song by song, than any of the band's other amazing albums. You already know about these guys.'

#3) Feelies, Crazy Rhythms

'Four geeky Hoboken suburbanites made this classic album out of jagged punk melodies, nervous attitude and the propulsive, percussive rhythms that dominate their style.'

#4) Afghan Whigs, Gentlemen

'Most albums of the 1990s are owned by the singles, but this one works best as a whole, like Dark Side Of The Moon or Tommy.' (I have never listened to either of the albums referenced in my life)

#5) Talking Heads, Fear Of Music

'The classic band's last and best "rock" album is a masterpiece of nerdiness and experimentation.' (do a shot every time I write "classic" or "experimentation" in this article)

#6) Pixies, Doolittle

'That soft verse/loud chorus thing that plagues '90s radio started with this influential group, which is why it fits perfectly into WGMR's playlist.'

#7) Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Rust Never Sleeps

'Neil Is Neil.' (man, do I wanna give the adolescent me a big thumbs up for that worthless opener) 'His voice can be grating, but if that's a problem then how come no one else can play his songs right?'

#8) Afghan Whigs, Black Love

'The band's most recent album replaces grunge with a jagged sound that mixes R&B with Sonic Youth-style experimentiaton. The songs are classic and singer Greg Dulli's ability to belt ranks up there with Tom Waits.' (um, Tom Waits belts?)

#9) U2, Zooropa

'The classic band really got it right on this one: classic melodies, futuristic sounds and soul searching lyrics.' (classic.)

#10) Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers

'Jonathan Richman: the first nerd-rocker...If punk means standing out and being yourself, then they don't come any punker.'

#11) Replacements, Pleased To Meet Me

'A great band that was unfairly ignored in the '80s, the Replacements were one of the first groups to mix punk with more mainstream rock sounds. Paul Westerberg is (or is that was?) one of the best lyricists of the modern era.' (was.)

#12) Guided By Voices, Bee Thousand

'...Listen to this diverse plethora of brief-but-endearing songs and you can't help but wonder, "How?"'

#13) Stooges, Fun House

'Loud, rowdy and stunning, this album is too ferocious for radio 30 years after its release. Why aren't they in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame? (Why isn't Iggy?)' (Why am I sharing this crap with you?)

#14) Velvet Underground, 1969 Live

'...It's hard to believe that people could actually create something this great in one take.' (I'm assuming the next sentence was going to be "wowee wow wow.")

#15) R.E.M., Monster

'Love it or hate it, this albums mixes hard rock with high art, creating one of the most important albums in the band's catalog.' (High art? Wow, I was, like this close to being a lil' Jim DeRogatis. Rock lives!)

#16) Pavement, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

'Featuring haphazard and occasionally stumbling musicianship and a vocalist who you know could do better, Pavement refuses to be the brilliant band it could. The fact that "Crooked Rain" is near perfect is probably an accident.' (....)

#17) Yo La Tengo, Electr-O-Pura

'Three thirtysomethings from Hoboken who keep making brilliant modern rock for the joy of it, even though only 60,000 people seem to care (which isn't really that bad).' (corny? check. indie? check.)

#18) Matthew Sweet, Girlfriend

'A pinnacle of power pop that only pretentious snobs could dislike.'
( "this kid's got promise!")

#19) Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance

'...this album spotlights psuedo-singer David Thomas pondering the life of his friend Peter Laughter and the fact that Ubu figured out what comes after punk before anyone else could even think about it.' (or so I'd read...)

#20) Girls Against Boys, House Of GVSB

'...If the next album, "Freak*On*Ica," is anywhere as good as this one, then you're looking at the next big thing.' (I'll stand by that.)

#21) Morrissey, Your Arsenal

'...master moper Morrissey...'

#22) Elvis Costello & The Attractions, This Years Model

'Another complicated genius...'

#23) The Fall, 458489 Asides

'Mark E. Smith, a tone-deaf but stunning MC...'

#24) Big Star, Third/Sister Lovers

'...the songs on this album are some of the most emotionally draining you'll ever hear that could still be considered pop.' (I can't decide if I stand by that statement or not.)

#25) Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation

'Every album this NYC quartet has done since 1986's EVOL has been great, but this one features "Teen Age Riot," the band's songwriting pinnacle, as well some of their grandest and most impressively intuitive work.' ("most impressively intuitive"?)

Aside from Zooropa, Daydream Nation and (wtf) Monster I still love these albums a lot. I just thought you might appreciate a glimpse at what I was like back in the day. Back when they used to call me "the music nazi." Back when I'd never known the love of a woman. Back when I was commending Soundgarden for their "authenticity" despite not enjoying a single thing they'd ever done.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Those CD-Rs I said were going out last Monday are going out this Monday. Moving craziness and whatnot.

"Don't Be Scared" by A.R.E. Weapons should qualify as crunk.

The a capella CD-R mix I got from Tofu Hut came real handy two nights ago, when I need to listen to SOMETHING but winced at the thought of having to deal with the weight of instruments. It was wonderful to have everyone from Tom Waits and Odetta to Ol' Dirty Bastard singing unaccompanied lullabiess (though that one ten minute track is a bit much).

I've also been listening to an MBV live bootleg a lot lately. I'm curious how they got their guitars to sound like they were melting in that setting. The infamous D-chord destruction on "You Made Me Realise" doesn't feature actual music as far as I could tell (TV on the fritz for 3 minutes, um, yay) but otherwise this stuff is stellar.

Friday, August 20, 2004

After listening to the Screwed & Chopped version for so long, its really disorienting to finally hear David Banner's "Choose Me" in its original form (just bought it). I miss the drawn-out feel of the remix. The pain and yearning felt so much more nightmarish and desperate there. Where "Choose Me" was a peak of the Screwed version (at least for a melody freak like myself), the one on MTA proper just sounds like dance floor filler (haha even four plus minute tracks on this sound light-speed and rushed after months of slow and low), while other tracks benefit from the increase in bounce.

Thanks to the efforts of critics and ILXors to push the remix, Banner's actual voice sounds so non-threatening now! I don't think that was his intention.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

In the midnight hour, she cried mo', mo', mo' VH1 Classic

Keith Richards, "Wicked As It Seems": Fuck the Jagger hate. Sure, Keith IS the Stones, but judging by his solo material, anything you ever heard that made you think more than "hey, it's the Stones" came from Jann S. Wenner's Five-Star Solo Superstar. After hearing the drumming on his solo stuff, I don't even want to say Richards is all the makes a track "the Stones" either. I should show this video to everybody I know who was blown away by the "99 Problems" video, cuz Romanek's been making moving slide shows of other people's images for years.

Billy Idol, "Rebel Yell": I want to live on the planet this video was filmed on. Reaffirming that everything has been done before, this song nullifies my concept of nu-wave by being more aggro AND more new wave than anything that's come out this year. I'll pretend it doesn't count, though, as this is closer to pop-metal than nu-wave thanks to Steve Stevens' guitar, which morphs into a machine gun during the solo.

Whitesnake, "Here I Go Again": If she was dating a talented, charismatic frontman, Tawny might have given us a glimpse of her Kitaen. We should probably be grateful that shots of the hideous, deluded puds known as Whitesnake are included, for otherwise this clip would inspire spontaneous acts of public masturbation. There's a girl I know who considered re-enacting this video to the tune of Def Leppard's "Hysteria," and I'd just like to note that her boyfriend is a very, very lucky man (though not as lucky as David Coverdale, who deserved to have Margaret Thatcher humping his Yugo).

ZZ Top, "Rough Boy": one of two videos I've seen that imply the Top took their new wave shtick TOO FAR with Afterburner (I'll discuss "Sleeping Bag" another time), this one involves a space station and a synth ballad, nary a drop of Rio Grande Mud to be found. If it wasn't for the titular declaration of coarseness, this could be, I dunno, "Up Where We Belong."

Loverboy, "Working For The Weekend": They shot this for 9 hours (I'm guessing) and THESE were the most charismatic images they had to work with. I'm not sure when MTV realized that attractive people look better on TV, but it was sometime after this admittedly glorious video was popular (freeze on the drummer's distended face! people will want to revel in its enthusiastic grotesque glory!). That said, if I ever sing lead in a band again and am not hindered by a guitar, I WILL don the red headband and matching scarf. If you want to be in an audience's heart, you've gotta start from the start. Props to Scott Woods for revealing that Canadian headband-rock doesn't start and end with Loverboy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The new LeTigre single "New Kicks," which I'm praying isn't actually the first single off the new album but some random internet-only track, is hella embarassing. It's hard to believe that after years of writing politically-oriented lyrics she'd believe that what the world needs now (what the world EVER needs) is the word "peace" and random slogans thrown over an electronic beat and NO hooks.


Yeah, that's the problem. Nobody's thrown up a peace sign. Oh, Yoko!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I finally heard "Headsprung" a couple times recently, and I'm starting to wonder if LL Cool J is the Rod Stewart of rap, so confident in his vocal charisma that he'll happily hop around from trend to trend, hoping something will stick and having enough commercial sense to succeed with impressive frequency. The track is undeniable, but it's a bit odd that I don't remember much of anything about his rap, an unprecedented occurence for me. If he is the Rod Stewart of rap, this may be his "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Disco-rap is in full effect. The ratio of hits about clubbing and fucking to songs that aren't is staggering. I'm not really complaining since the alternatives consist of Mase assuming I give a shit where he's been, Jadakiss regurgitating one of Bob Dylan's least intelligent tracks, Kanye making me wish his voice didn't suck ass and Eminem getting so Stan I keep waiting for him to scream "WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE TOGETHER, TOO!" That said, I'm starting to get a bit desensitized to the beats (yeah they're all awesome but frankly I'm more shocked when one DOESN'T work) and the raps feel less and less noteworthy. And until my love life starts picking up I think I'm officially sick of all the post-Jay-Z declarations of monogamous affection.

I'm sticking with LL Cool as Rod Stewart, but who's a good choice for the Bee Gees of the current rap scene? The Black Eyed Peas are gunning for it but I think we're going to see an even bigger example of some vet flying out of obscurity to shove monolithic club tracks down our throat. THEN the backlash will truly commence.

I'm disappointed Victoria Beckham won't be the one offering the 2K version of The Ethel Merman Disco Album.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I'm in the middle of moving to my new apartment, so posts may or may not be a little sparse for a couple days.

Me doing my damndest to make people check out Trouble Everyday in Stylus. If google isn't failing me, this might be the first review of their album on the web outside of Philadelphia. I really hope it's not the last. I found some article about them that namedrops Les Baton Rouge and The Hells as being friends with the group. This is kind of eerie, since I've been listening to those bands a lot too. Man, AND they've played with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs AND they've played in State College (for the listening pleasure of two dozen overwhelmingly indifferent people! And one guy standing boggle-eyed and slackjawed! Me!). I have to assume there's some svengali with a cigar who decided that the key to getting these guys some buzz was to coddle the tastes of a part-time critic/part-time library clerk in central PA best known for being the only guy over 21 who thinks Good Charlotte is awesome.

Here's two mp3's from their site, "Kids" and "Days Vs. Nights". If I could recommend one relatively unknown band for the hype machine, these guys would be it.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Thanks in large part to Evan from Texas, the amount of CD-R's I've gotten in the mail recently has become ungodly (Polyrock! "Seven Deadly Finns!" "Losing My Edge"!). Good thing its predetermined how I'm returning the favor to everyone (a bunch more Fall comps head for the post office Monday), since the LAST thing on my mind these days is forcing my own musical discoveries on people. I'm too busy basking in the awesomeness of all of yours. I plan to celebrate these things more fully eventually but for now I'd just like to say THANK YOU FOR THIS PILE OF COOL SHIT, ALL OF YOU. This will not be the last post of effusive gratitude. There's more on the way and I haven't listened at least 75% of the stuff I've already gotten.

Last night I heard an Australian rapper announce he gets the shits. What have I done to deserve this good fortune?

I flippantly described VH1 Classic videos on the net, that's what!

Starship, "We Built This City": My friend Rob considers this The Worst Piece Of Shit Ever, and I think its a valid choice. This song is why I don't sympathize with "We Didn't Start The Fire."

Starship, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now": This song is why I don't sympathize with the Jefferson Airplane Behind The Music. This video is why, despite hearing he's a nice guy who married his college sweetheart 20 years after their first date yadda yadda, I kind of wish pain on Andrew McCarthy.

I'm glad Mickey Thomas is available for parties. He'd make a great pinata.

Joan Jett, "Cherry Bomb": I, for one, support an increase of women in rock. Why? ASK MY BONER. Women should be in bands, writing, recording, performing, producing, engineering, etc. and men should be willing vessels for their lust, happy just to watch, lift amps and give them money. It's what God intended.

Joan Jett, "I Love Rock'n'Roll": Oh, if only I could sneer "It's all the same!" like that guy from the Blackhearts. I assume Joan always turns to face her drummer so that she can give us a good look at her ass. This video is so fucking hot. Anthony loves him some FOXY! OW!

Bruce Springsteen, "Dancing In The Dark": I assume Bruce always turns to face his drummer so that he can give us a good look at his ass (or maybe he's giving Max, who does appear to be looking everywhere but straight ahead, a reprieve from its pert majesty). Bruce is an overlooked synth-pop giant, which doesn't really bother me because he's overrated in every other department. Imagine how TV history would have been altered if he picked one of Courtney Cox's friends to dance instead. She was the talentless lynchpin that held that show together.

Friday, August 13, 2004

I don't know for sure if this is what I originally planned for no. 9 on that top ten of 2004 (so far), but currently its Hot Fuss by The Killers (actually the MGs are now no. 9 and this is no. 10 but wtf-ever).

Some observations we can make based on the ten albums I'm endorsing (Nellie McKay, Trouble Everyday, Bumblebeez 81, The Streets, I Am The WTC, Hives, the Talk, Franz Ferdinand, Mountain Goats and the Killers in case you're too lazy to scroll down).

1) While anxious nu-wave is the sound of the year (more drama for your Bananarama!), I'd clearly trade it all to spend two hours with a smart, funny, talented girl.

2) I like me some white rap (Shifty wuz robbed!).

3) If I can imagine your bass player wiggles his butt while making pouty-faces you get points. If I can imagine the band dressed like Paul Revere & The Raiders you get points. If you got all kinds of crazy shit coming out of your mouth, you get points.

4) In 2002 I voted mainly for pop-punk, which means all I've learned in the last two years is that dancing is good.

5) Somebody's frustrated. Ironically detached from that frustration, too.

6) Interpol and the Fever have a good chance of getting on this thing once I finally get my hands on copies.

One thing we should NOT assume from the relative homogenity here is that I'm poo-pooing all the other genres out there, claiming there were no classics to be found elsewhere, etc. I am not a rich man. I will not have broadband until September. I get most of my album exposure from the college radio station. Just because I heard a R&B song on the radio so good it makes my top 5 singles of the year doesn't mean I'm gonna drop 16 bucks for the whole magilla (though I might break down and pick up that Mario Winans album - the two-star review in Blender got me all excited to hear some emo slow jams). These are my FAVORITE albums of WHAT I HEARD, not the pinnacle of all recorded music in 2004. In fact in 2002 Nellie McKay would probably barely make the top 5.

In December I tend to go on a big shopping spree, buying some of the interesting stuff people raved about in their top 10s so I can hear 'em before P'n'J. Between that and the increased net audio exposure this thing might go through a BIG turnover. But for now, shake that ache!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I compare the Sahara Hotnights to the Donnas in Stylus, easily the most novel thing I've ever done.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Lately, I've been trying to figure out how come I enjoy Grant McLennan so much. Fellow Go-Between Robert Forster's existence is redeemed by "When She Talked About Angels," the only song I know that details the sacrifices rock fans make for love, but most of the time I'm like hey, let Grant sing that. Melodic knack is part of it (Forster's stuff often feels wooden in comparison), but it also has something to do with his ability to express yearning and tenderness without coming off helpless or feeble. Heroic while devoid of machismo. 1994's Horsebreaker Star is recommended to newbies and curious Go-Betweens fans. 24 to 30 (depending on your copy's nationality) gifts from a "resigned romantic" (to use Christgau's phrase) blessed with a gentle voice and inner strength.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I just spent the last two hours here at work listening to the fire alarm. Thankfully, for you, they finally turned it off. Otherwise, you wouldn't get your VH1 Classic recaps.

Btw, the two songs I heard off the new Interpol album are more of the same in the most beautiful way possible. If I get around to it, my next Freelance Mentalists piece should be about why the heck I like them so much. Reason #45) Duran Duran never got mad.

Rod Stewart, "Crazy About Her": one of the things I hate in retrospect about MTV Unplugged is how it neutered the careers of pop hacks like Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton, sending them into careers of profitable nostalgia. Instead of Michelob ad obnoxiousness like "Pretending" we get whittlin' blues. Instead of crass Miami Vice insanity like "Crazy About Her" we get supper club shit.

Since I knew him as a decrepit VH1 poodle long before I heard Every Picture Tells A Story, I'm not offended by the blatant commercialism of his work over the last thirty years. It may be the wholly unwarranted cynicism of a close-minded sprat, but great albums are so few and far between that if you knock off two (Every Picture and Never A Dull Moment), you're free to spend the rest of your days dancing around all the Pepsi bottles you like; you've met your quota. Sure, you're nobody's hero, you ain't Neil Young, but I'm not going to waste my breath shrieking "sell-out!" for crimes that any alternative rocker could point out. ESPECIALLY if your knack for solid singles is as enduring as Stewart's was. The guy had top twenty hits for over twenty years, liberally incorporating modern technology and styles while maintaining his magnificent vocal charisma. He stopped making good albums, but his singles comp beats your singles comp.

In blinkered hindsight, "Crazy About Her" seems as bonkers as Greendale and almost as commendable. While women shot in writhe and soak themselves with sponges under ceiling fans and men in white coats blow horns in shades and perms, Stewart cuts a vigorous rug, slapping his jeans and humping his chair with a ferocity previously unknownto the middle-aged, recounting the tale of a working class "coackroach on the floor" who's hungry for a hot, young, beautiful girl who, despite all that stands between them, is destined to be his. The lyrics are tre quirk ("I see her jogging in Central Parkwith one of them WALKMANS on her head!") and his vocals vary from a cutting near-rap to ungodly hollers (he's gonna give her something ALL THOSE RICH GUYS AIN'T GOT!) and gasps for help. The capper is when it turns out that this lady is his boss's girl! OW NOW! On the album this revelation is followed by one of the most unhinged shrieks committed to tape but for the video version they replace it with another run through the chorus (you can still hear his cries in the background of the fade-out).

Why on earth would you want to hate on a guy who's given you both this AND "You Wear It Well" in a single lifetime? As Ian MacKaye says, WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE?

Rod Stewart, "You're In My Heart": Plus he ALSO gave MTV 20+ outrageous video clips right when they started. This one consists of a visibly intoxicated Rod attempting to woo us in a fancy restaurant before getting bored and switching the backdrop to ESPN. I shit you not. This might not seem that absurd if you know that the song is actually about the Celtic United football team and the eventual emergency use of a stomach pump.

Van Halen, "So Is This Love?": How many Van Halen videos feature Tarzan outdoing Elvis in the pelvis department while Eddie and Michael smile and respectively noodle and throb over Alex's diddlybop-diddlybop-diddlybop-diddlybop? And why weren't there more? David Lee Roth isn't the only man on earth who wants to be remembered for doing splits off of a drum riser, but he's the only man who will be.

Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start The Fire": This track seemed real profound back when I was a precocious prepubescent, so much so that I still remember most of the lyrics. CHILDREN OF THALIDOMIDE! I don't think most people realize that it wasn't originally meant as a social studies tool so much as an anthem for defensive, guilt-ridden baby boomers. DYLAN, BERLIN, BAY OF PIGS INVASION! It's not their fault the world sucks, and that some of them elected Reagan, look at all the crazy shit they dealt with as children! EDSEL WAS A NO-GO! JFK, BLOWN AWAY, WHAT ELSE DOES HE HAVE TO SAY?! Nonetheless, I find it interesting that its Rock'n'Roller Cola Wars that inspire him to announce that he can't take it anymore. I hope the Gen-X version in a dozen years will be called "I Learned It From Watching You, Dad."

Billy Joel, "Uptown Girl": Joel is such a hateful little man that the high point of his life (not to mention his musical career) was when he bagged a model and decided to do a victory lap. Underneath the cheerful Frankie Vallisms that make this my favorite Joel track (excepting "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," of course) is some serious grudge-fuck, oh-you-want-some-backstreet-guy-you-rich-bitch-with-your-toys-I-bet-yo-mamma-never-told-you-why-ha-ha-take-that-you-high-class-assholes-I'm-fucking-Christie-Brinkley anger. It's hard for me to hate the guy when he's dancing, though, and he was doing that a LOT back in 1983.
My kind of expose. Government Names is the shit.

Monday, August 09, 2004

I don't know what the heck was happening from 6pm-9pm today, not sure how it happened, not entirely sure how I fixed it.

What I do know is that I'm too frazzled to type up what I had planned for today. Bummer.

From memory, my top ten albums of 2004 (so far):

1) Nellie McKay, Get Away From Me
2) Trouble Everyday, Days Vs. Nights
3) Bumblebeez 81, Printz
4) The Streets, A Grand Don't Come For Free
5) I Am The World Trade Center, The Cover-Up
6) Hives, Tyrannosaurus Hives
7) The Talk, It's Like Magic In Reverse
8) Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
9) dang it, I forget
10) The Mountain Goats, We Shall All Be Healed

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Remember when I said that you should read The Original Soundtrack so you might learn something? If you haven't already, start now. While everybody else is engaging in in-house semantic debates, Geeta Dayal is the only person writing about "experimental" music I know of who actually makes what she enjoys sound enticing and worthwhile, using descriptive abilities and references far beyond those offered by the usual blinkered genre freaks. There aren't a lot of writers who can make me feel like I'm missing out if I ignore their faves, so rah.

Since I'm near-broke and without access to all that techno/noise/NY/Wire stuff, I'll just keep watching VH1 Classic. But when I get my hands on some broadband, WATCH OUT.

Human League, "The Lebanon": If it makes Oakey feel any better, I don't quite understand Bono's popularity either (though it probably has something to do with prancing about the stage and not looking like you just wet 'em). These droids totally figured out The Edge though, for the guitars on this track are TEH AWESOME.

Talk Talk, "Such A Shame": Mark Hollis is an ugly, ugly man. Taped out of curiousity. Regretted. As that transparent die floating above the band symbolizes, this is the chance we take when taping VH1 Classic.

Talk Talk, "Talk Talk": Apologies to all you new age freaks, but I wouldn't have minded if somebody threw Hollis off a cliff after this hit. The band has some nifty new age do's and duds (love the drummer's ponytail) and the song's subject (the net variation would be "Post Post") is truly worthy of Hollis's frightening facial contortions.

John Lennon, "Jealous Guy": I always forget to include this song in my 100 Favorite Songs Of All Time, and it belongs in the top 10. So artful, concise and pure that I kind of get kind of annoyed by his brief improvs during the final chorus (though I can see why he felt they were necessary). A sentimental favorite that captures how I feel about every genuine regret in my life. Big shout-out to Claire for giving me Elliott Smith's live cover. Now I can listen to the song without having to stare at a lot of Lennon iconography.

John Lennon, "I'm Losing You": The reason I don't own a copy of the original "Jealous Guy" on CD is that, to be honest, I enjoy very few post-Pepper's songs by any Beatle, even my heads-above-the-pack fave. This track, which I'm assuming was a demo or something, would sound like weak Cheap Trick even if Bun E. Carlos and Rick Neilsen weren't in the video (though seeing Tony Levin in Rick Petersson's place is ew ew ew). Are there ANY Lennon videos that don't feature him and Yoko rolling around? For once can't they separate the art from the mythos?

Saturday, August 07, 2004

So now VH1 Classic is playing '90s videos. While the sight of two Afghan Whigs on Tuesday Twoplay made this sound tolerable, they were immediately followed by a double dose of Alice In Chains. Not cool. My brain then realized that, now, at any time while watching VH1 Classic, they could play Ugly Kid Joe's "I Hate Everything About You."

I don't think I can watch VH1 Classic anymore. They're not actually supposed to play things I remember hating the first time around. Older folks can suffer, but I shouldn't have to. That was the deal, VH1 Classic, and you broke it.

So these comments about videos I have on tape may actually wind up being a memorial rather than a celebration. By the time I actually finish critiquing the hours upon hours I have on tape, the station will probably be asking us if we remember Destiny's Child.

Guess what day these videos were taped.

Kenny Loggins, "Danger Zone": all the Top Gun clips in the world won't explain why Loggins is wearing sunglasses while sweating in a heavily shaded room, passionately lying in his bed all day and taking photos of the ceiling fan. At best they explain his haircut.

Kenny Loggins, "Footloose": They probably shot footage of Loggins feverishly filing his taxes and cleaning his pool to intercut with the flip-happy Kevin Bacon material. I wish they'd kept it. As "Danger Zone" would without it, this video consists solely of gay.

New Edition, "Cool It Now": Every miligram of testosterone in Ralph Tresvant's body must have gone into that peach fuzz over his lip. This video features Ronnie! Bobby! Ricky and Mike! doing the most gleeful pop-locking I've ever seen. Recently a friend pointed out the wisdom in this song and I really should start heeding its advice.

New Edition, "Is This The End?": I forget if Ralph Tresvant's solo career reveals whether or not he ever found his testicles (perhaps they're sitting in a jar on Maurice Starr's desk). I'm disappointed more bands don't steal the video's frame-within-a-frame . Bobby Brown, a thug lover since birth, visibly tries to cop a feel. Twice. Note the girl's quick defensive gesture. Ronnie DeVoe appears narcoleptic in one scene. Passionate, sweet, catchy, talented, likeable...I'm only offended by the success of NKOTB when I think about how much cooler these kids were.

Huey Lewis & The News "Workin' For A Livin'": There are few artists I more regret committing to tape than Huey. Even in a mere performance video I want to decapitate them all and set their corpses afire. Who's your favorite New? The smooth keyb man? The young, punky guitarist? The extra from Grease on bass? Huey? Is it Huey?

Huey Lewis & The News "The Heart Of Rock'n'Roll": Evil. OK, if you were a dad when this came out, fine, you're destined to enjoy lukewarm retro-pap like this (exposure to cute babies can't help but inspire fathers into grotesque mime). Little kids dig this muggy shit too (I know I did). However, I'm a young bachelor and this guy is The Great Satan. Everything about them screams REAGAN.

Dead Or Alive, "You Spin Me (Right Round)": Rob Sheffield, whose entries in the Spin Alternative Record Guide have forever shaped my apprecation of '80s music, gets props for pointing out that the singer cries out for someone's son before the first chorus. I love pointing it out to friends and noting that the guy later had a sex change. Most are shocked that this video was made beforehand.

Queen, "The Show Must Go On": He was GAY??? You're kidding me! Freddie Mercury? HE was GAY??? This career-spanning montage was designed to make fans who said crap like that feel like the closet case fools they are. While their music got progressively wimpy with age, Mercury went out soaring. Classic Queen is a testament to his life-long vocal majesty.

Queen & David Bowie, "Under Pressure": Boring, uninspired video made entirely out of stock footage for the best song in rock history. A batshit, grandiose plea for sympathy and love with a staggering hook per minute ratio? Earnest, touching lyrics interspersed between bursts of operatic scatting? A beat that goes dee-dee-dee-diggy-dee-dee dee-dee-dee-diggy-dee-dee (not dee-dee-dee-diggy-dee-dee DEE-dee-dee-dee-diggy-dee-dee, which is totally different)? How can I resist? How can I not celebrate this track with all the breath my lungs can muster? I was surprised and gratified to see that it made a recent UK phone poll's Top 10 of all time. There is still hope for this world.

Human League, "(Keep Feeling) Fascination": Phil Oakey, as I've said before, is best understood as a robot passing for a person, regurgitating half-understood homilies and sentiments (I bet he yells "INPUT! INPUT!" when listening to the radio) in hopes that chart sales will prove to his alien overlords that he understands why humans cry. Treasure him.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The only albums that I once owned but tossed from 1984 that people suggested (and some of you need to check that copyright in the liner notes) were The Wonderful And Frightening World Of The Fall and Van Halen's 1984. The former just had too much bulk (esp. the CD version) and the only tracks from the latter I got into were "Panama" (which is easily my favorite Van Halen track not from the debut album), "Hot For Teacher" and "Jump." "I'll Wait" is too Hagar to be tolerated and the rest felt like defensive Zep-Rush plod.

The rest of the LPs are fresh territory for me and I'm incredibly grateful for all the recommendations. You folks rock. The people who've been sending me CD-Rs rock so hard they're going to Valhalla when they die. Oodles of Fall for them all if sheets of rain don't come down tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Wilco's strongest competition for Favorite Song Not Single of 2004 is currently Sloan's "False Alarm," which may or may not have been released as a single in Canada (I can't seem to find out what the second single was, and I'm disappointed enough in their choices for the first and third that I have little reason to believe they got it right). If any song on Action Pact would have a chance of making it here it would be this one. I already mentioned before that the best songs on the album sound like the cheeriest Interpol songs ever, and this one's got a relentless "PDA"-style pulse plus chiming guitar riffs falling like rain (to steal Sundar from ILX's phrase).

What really takes this song TO THA NEXT LEVEL for me is Jay Ferguson's vocal, which is right up there with Christine McVie's on "You Make Loving Fun" when it comes to earned romantic relief. But where McVie is sated and resting in her lover's arms, Ferguson hasn't achieved that level of comfort (first line is "I know that I'm just a friend"). It's the day before the night after, he's looking forward to next time, getting ready to admit defeat and walk down her street while the bridge of "Falling" is on repeat (* awkward pause before chorus* "oh yeah"). Chorus opens with a swell of harmony and aching, elongated cry of "it's been so long" before the guitars, drums and vocals get all choppy and excited about how something always happens whenever you're together. It's all tension and release, anticipation and glow. Like "You Make Loving Fun," it's a testimony that lightning can strike more than once, an anthem for the newly excited and a glimmer of hope for those who'd like to be.

This needs to be on my radio, like, yesterday.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

As of today, Wilco's "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" is my official Favorite Song Not Single Of 2004 (last year's winner was "Synthesizer" by Electric Six). Recent experiences with semipopular rock have left me wondering if I'm unable to appreciate such stuff with the same enthusiasm I had for it in high school (unless I've liked the songs since high school). Most recent favorites are coherent and blatant takes on a specific emotion. "Toxic" is lust. "Burn" is heartache. "I Don't Wanna Know" is fear. "Clarity" is serenity. We can debate the value of these songs, whether there are enough truly rewarding elements within, but not what they're about. Are the beauties of obscurity and the abstract lost on me?

Not necessarily. My inner REM fan is alive and well, indifferent to whether or not Tweedy's mumbles add up to much, settling for some neat images (better than Stipe's ever were) and hooks like "it's good to be alone." The spaz-guitar freak in me is giddy to follow that Ira Kaplan-esque lead all over the fretboard and ever since my first listen to "I'm Waiting For Man" in middle school I've never denied myself an insistent, caffeinated dun-dun-dun-dun beat. If anything, it reminds me of stuff I've recorded, sputtering guitar blats over metronomic precision (I use a drum machine cuz my drummer of choice lives in Ohio) only with better vocal control, lyrics that avoid cheap sentimentality (I can't seem to avoid AABB rhymes, obvious angst and l-u-v) and great production. Judging by the frequency with which with I play this track, this might be the sound of my head when I'm lost in thought, when its good to be alone.

(btw, the rest of A Ghost Is Born is growing on me a lot. While I had a similar reaction as xgau to that BOOK of shit lyrics that comes with the album, I don't think a guy who gave almost everything by Pavement an A- or higher should be calling Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fans "suckers.")