Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why Do Birds Sing So Gay?

I travelled a few hours north of the city this weekend with my lovely fiance (who may be a contributor to this blog, ahem.) We stayed in the beautifully preserved little town of Saugerties, just off the mighty Hudson. We hiked up to frozen waterfalls, visited some antique shops and ended up going to an enormous flea market at the local high school. The cafeteria was even serving lunch.

I suppose this had me yearning for simpler times, because I ended up purchasing a 3 CD doo-wop collection from a very nice man at the flea market. I then tormented my fiance with said collection throughout the weekend.

One track really popped out at me, "I Want You To Be My Girl" by Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, best known for their mega-hit "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" The group was only together for 18 months from 1957 to 1958, but managed to record dozens of tracks, almost all of them quite good. Lymon's voice is the kicker, sailing over everything, clear as a bell, quavering with emotion and just a little swagger.

I was remarking how young he sounded; I chalked it up to 50's rock marketing: find somebody who sounds like a kid. As it turns out, Lymon actually was only 13 when the group had its first hit! His voice changed a few years later and that was essentially the end of his career. He got deeper into heroin (which apparantly he had discovered at age 16) and ended up dying of an overdose in 1968. What a waste.

Notably, Lymon was America's first black teen idol and Berry Gordy modeled his early Motown groups (especially the Jackson Five) very closely on The Teenagers. Enjoy.

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - I Want You To Be My Girl
Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - Silhouettes
Frankie Lymon - Little Bitty Pretty One (solo)
Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - Creation Of Love

buy it!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Beat Planet Mix Tape Track 4

It's been a while since I returned to the totally lost, much fabled Beat Planet Mix Tape. I remember trying to rally the bands I played in in high school to cover this particular track from LA power-pop geniuses the Plimsouls, who were widely known thanks in part to repeat appearances on the Valley Girl soundtrack. I never got anywhere. Peter Case & company's studio work, which I discovered only after buying this live record in 1988, paled in comparison to the dirty, beery rock sound I had come to know and love and try to imitate. For my money, One Night in America is an essential rock record, worth having not only for these songs but also the selfless bevy of covers performed herein--ranging from The Outsiders ("Time Won't Let Me") and The Kinks ("Come On Now") to The Easybeats ("Sorry") and Larry Williams ("Dizzy Miss Lizzy"). Recorded in Cleveland (maybe-- even Case doesn't remember for sure) in 1981, this is the best way to hear the Plimsouls.

The Plimsouls - Now (live)
Buy it!

As a bonus, here's another cut from the cd.

The Plimsouls - I'll Get Lucky (live)

And then, on a slight bonus tangent, because these two records go hand in hand for me, here's two helpings of Boston's Real Kids, also at their live rockingest, this one recorded live at Cantone's Italian Restaurant in 1982, and featuring the full, extended glory of "All Kindsa Girls" with the big breakdown.

The Real Kids - Senseless (live)

The Real Kids - All Kindsa Girls (live)
Buy it!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

True Confessions: This Is My Favorite Video

This brief detour from pure MP3 blogging is to tell you that I have had the same favorite music video for about 25 years. Below is a link to my favorite video of all time. It's the original lineup of Van Halen performing the track "Unchained" from their 1981 album Fair Warning. Watch the video with the sound off and you'll see how amazing this performance is, tight football pants or no tight football pants. My best friend from elementary school and I would stay up all night on nights I would sleep over watching MTV waiting for this video to come up in the playlist cycle every four or five hours. It is absolutely necessary that you watch this video to the end, because the best part is when Alex Van Halen lights the gong on fire and gongs the crap out of it. Simply amazing. I love you, YouTube.

Van Halen -- "Unchained (Live)"

Sunday Rumination: Sexual Frustration Nation

JB's post got me thinking about another kind of frustration, of the sort that's being helped along by the current policymakers in DC and their proxies around the country.

I'm talkin' bout abstinence-only sex ed, y'all(!) Given preferential treatment by the sado-masichists in DC, and guaranteed to make American teens think outside the box, it's humming along on a government cash infusion. And its road-show brethren and sistren, the Silver Ring Thing are bringing their hot and bothersome act to a town near you.

And in South Dakota, at the beginning of the winding road to the Alito/Roberts Supreme Court, politicians have decided it's best if even pregnant rape and incest victims are forced, by law, to carry their babies to term. Meanwhile, there continue to be some folks who are determined to find ways to make contraception more difficult to obtain.

So, now that non-procreative Sex is the newest arm on the Axis of Evil (carrot or stick?), let us turn, in our lather, to music for solace and helpful hints.

The Buzzcocks - Orgasm Addict
Buy it!
Broken Social Scene - Handjobs for the Holidays
Buy it!
The Regrets - Play With Yourself Until You Faint
Buy it!
Dead Prez - Mind Sex
Buy it!
Prince - Jack U Off
Buy it!

They Cut You

Brooklyn's Knife Skills work a raw, rockly, post-something sound through a new-wave setup, reminding me alternately of Silverfish and Romeo Void. Check it out.

Knife Skills - Get Home Safe
Knife Skills - Our Summer of Teenage Lust

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Saturday Rumination: Frustration

My intention to have something cogent to say about about the state of political affairs has come to nought. Everything I wrote looked like empty sloganeering when I reviewed it on the screen. So I started to think about other things people should be cognizant of. Here's one: There have been some horrible stories about animal cruelty in the last week. It's the kind of thing that is always there, particularly if you have a pretty wide definition of cruelty, but only makes headlines in more spectacular instances. Here is a link to the most recent 1,680 hits at Google News, if you really want to wallow. But if you want to rock, here are some songs that I think do a solid job of conveying general frustration, a mood I think applies to many persons' feelings, whether they be about the current administration, puppy trafficking, you name it.

Some highlights: Westerberg's vocal breakdown in "Hangin' Downtown," when he spits out the line "Anyway, I ain't got no place else to go;" Mould's multitracked vocals on "The Act We Act," perhaps the heaviest post-Husker song he's ever written, delivering the line "and the hours slipping by, as we watch the worlds collide...;" the cacaphonous final two minutes of the Unwound track reminds me that, while many assert the dominance of Unwound's Leaves Turn Inside You over the rest of the Unwound catalog, in our opinion Repetition is their best set of songs.

The Replacements -- Hangin' Downtown
Sugar -- The Act We Act
Unwound -- Fingernails On A Chalkboard

And some links:

ASPCA Aid for Animals Effected by Hurrican Katrina
Greyhound Welfare

Philly-Style #9

A lot of rumblings about Philly's Man Man lately, and with good reason, because they sound fucking good. Frizzled Weimar-era circus hippy music.

Man Man - Van Helsing Boombox
Man Man - I, Manface

BC Camplight works in the tradition of Badly Drawn Boy and the Eels, making really nice, crafty baroque pop.

B.C. Camplight - Couldn't You Tell
B.C. Camplight - Blood and Peanut Butter

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Get ready for the G-O-P to get G-A-Y

Word on the street is that Republicans are planning on using a novel ploy to rally their base and get out the vote in November. Their hope? Put the Fear of Gay in you, by dusting off the ol' Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and, on a local level, by rallying the haters against gay adoption.

Oh, well done! Well done, conservative message-crafters! It's such good sport, playing politics with the lives and loves of American taxpayers, isn't it? Bravo!

Look, you and I can have a reasoned debate on the merits of this or that policy in almost any field, but if you're one of these people who supports this kind of institutionalized bigotry, this kind of tacit support for gay-bashing, I'm done. The conversation is over. You are an ass.

If, on the other hand, you're one of this group of squishy people who think this is just about dominion over a particular synonym for union, which must be preserved for the union of a penis and vagina, fine. Call it a civil union, call it pookiesnackenburger for all I care, just make it legal. Just make things right.

One thing I admired about now ex-Senatorial candidate Paul Hackett (ex-D-OH) is that he didn't go weak-kneed on this issue(scroll down), like so many Democrats unfortunately do. I just don't see how it's that hard to make the obvious, reasoned, forceful case for why this is a civil rights issue, and why in a civil, diverse society governed by laws (not commandments) your religion doesn't get to dictate which pairs of loving adults get to enjoy the benefits of marriage.

It took an old-fashioned hell-raising in Ocean County, NJ, (within earshot of NYC!) to persuade the Board of Freeholders to allow dying police Lt. Laurel Hester's long-time partner to inherit her meager estate and benefits. Even a heartwrenching videotaped plea from the cancer-afflicted Hester herself had no immediate effect. Thankfully, the board, embarrassed, eventually relented, just before Hester passed away.

This story ended with a little justice. How many stories don't, and how many won't, because some compassionate conservative has a stick up their ass? Hate the sin, but love the sinner...by wrecking the sinner's life, shitting on their relationship, and ignoring their loved ones when they die.

End rant. Music now.
Hüsker Dü - Could You Be The One Buy it!

Heavens to Betsy - She's The One Buy it!

The Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words Buy it!

Tegan and Sara - Time Running Buy it!

The Smiths - This Charming Man (Peel Session) Buy it!

Mirah - While We Have the Sun Buy it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Brief Follow-Up

I realized that last post was a little more about here than there. Baghdad Burning, as usual, is a good place to go for a little native, on-the-ground perspective. More music tomorrow. Probably more politics (if that's what you call it) too. You can always read around them.

A little more calm

If you haven't made yourself familiar with Prof. Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog, now would be a good time. In the last 48 hours, things on the ground in Iraq have gone from very bad to worse, as Sunni attacks breed Shiite reprisals and vice versa.

It's not getting so much front-page coverage in the US press yet, but even über-dick Bill O'Reilly, albeit in a necessarily (for him) semi-sarcastic cop-out, is calling for "cutting-and-running" all of a sudden. If it takes O'Reilly to get people to realize that we need a plan like Murtha's or even the more tepid version that may soon be put forward by Dems, then so be it.

I hope that calm can prevail somehow.


Debussy - Clair de Lune Alexis Weissenberg
Arvo Pärt - Spiegel im Spiegel Dietmar Schwalke, violoncello; Alexander Malter, piano
Chopin - Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 in Fmin Arthur Rubinstein
Ryan Adams - Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play that Part
Nina Simone - I Think It's Going To Rain Today
Cat Power - In This Hole

Songs for Dreaming

God knows, there are hundreds of songs that could fill this niche, but here's a sampling of my favorite sleepy-time tunes. Here's to hibernation, friends.

The Appleseed Cast - View of a Burning City
Dream: Mildly apocalyptic, with submarines.
Buy it!

Iron and Wine - The Trapeze Swinger
Dream: Yellowed bibles, knowing glances, salad.
Buy it!

Bilal - Soul Sista
Dream: Smoky.
Buy it!

Crooked Fingers - There's a Blue Light
Dream: Eric Bachmann in my bedroom. The mix is so vocal. Subconscious went literal.
Buy it!

Mishima USA - Up the Branch
Dream: Wedding reception, slo-mo fistfight.
Ask for it!

Red House Painters - Have You Forgotten?
Dream: Casey Kasem's radio show, AFN radio, sweatpants.
Buy it!

Jack Frost - Providence
Dream: Kilbey, McLennan, me: two chord jam, sculpture park in Canberra.
Buy it!

Royksopp - Sparks
Dream: Traffic, schlieren, coffee and peanuts.
Buy it!

Rebecca Gates - I Received a Levitation
Dream: Snowfall, ghost with cat.
Buy it!

Yo La Tengo - Don't Have to be so Sad
Dream: A little soft shoe with my elementary school principal, high and low fives.
Buy it!

Mogwai - Burn Girl Prom Queen
Dream: Utter, bloody tragedy, hope for renewal, sulfur smell.
Buy it!

Monday, February 20, 2006

killer covers 101

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Chapter in the Life of Isobel

Isobel Campbell may be best known as the fairy queen voice behind Belle and Sebastian, but her solo projects inspire a court of followers as well. in preparation for her SXSW performance on march 17, here are a few tracks from her Gentle Waves project. I hear her latest solo record is quite lovely too.

The Gentle Waves--A Chapter in the Life of Matthew

The Gentle Waves--Evensong

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tiny (American) Idol Also-Rans

My acquaintance Mark is responsible for a series of indie rock comps focusing on the sounds of the '90s. The series is called Tiny Idols and the first disc came out last year. Now compiling his second set, Mark hit me up to see what obscurities I have kicking around. I ended up throwing together six discs of stuff for him, and today I present some cuts I burned for Mark's consideration.

1. Air Miami -- "Pucker" -- All Virgos Are Mad 4AD comp

If you ask me, and I recognize you didn't, this song is the most transcendent thing Mark Robinson has ever been a part of. The guitars literally chime in places with some sort of heavy chorus effect, the bass pulses high across the neck and the production casts the whole thing in a very ethereal ambient wash. And of course all along you're never quite sure: Is Robinson saying "sit up and puck her" or "sit up and f*ck her." I think he's saying both. Anyway, the Teenbeat site here makes it look like the track was sposed to be released separately from the comp as a 12" [Teenbeat 197], but it was never. Too bad.

2. Barnabys -- "Gargamel" -- Jiffy Boy Records' Ten Cent Fix comp

Philebrador Joey Sweeney here finally gets his erstwhile rhythm section to really rock, or he layers so many glorious electric guitars in this track it just sounds that way as he finally approaches the electric heights of Barnabys' sort of sideways namesake. We'd argue this is the best Barnabys track, and one where the Sween's wordsmithery approaches earning the inebriated praise our man Zoz would sometimes throw out while we drove around in the car, praise wherein he linked JoJo's name with those of Dylan, Springsteen and Westerberg. More shockingly, this cached web page suggests someone recently requested the song be turned into a ringtone.

3. The Grifters -- "Queen of the Table Waters" -- Sub Pop 278 7"

While hardly rare, what with its release on Subpop, so far as we know this rocker was never issued on CD. The track holds one of the top spots on my unmade list of songs best suited for accompanying activities like driving fast or drinking shots. The final gleeful and nihilistic "yeah yeah yeahs" that close out the song press some sort of primal fun button in my head. This web page purports to show the cover art to the single, but we remember it being red and yellow -- perhaps we're remembering the back.

4. Clark Wallace -- "Brooklyn" -- Cities

Clark is a friend from college who was the first guy I knew to move to Brooklyn, which is where he ended up in 1996 or so. He tracked Cities in Jersey City in a room above a funeral parlor from what I recall. This is the biggest rocker on the record, and it is never far from my thoughts for some reason, which is odd since I don't think I've ever set foot in Brooklyn in my life. Even my wife likes to sing this song at random moments. RIYL Superchunk, you can buy the disc here at CDBaby.

5. Jeff Stern -- "Never Say Goodbye" -- Homemade Cassette

This is probably the best Bon Jovi cover you'll ever hear. Nothing counters the sap that drips from the original better than this spare, Casio-and-deadpan vocals version. Funny thing is, I feel like Stern's flatly delivered take lands more emotional punches than the Jovi version (Sorry Jon!). Stern is a friend from the other college I attended. He currently does time in The Farmhands (the only band to ever cut a double record featuring one song for each baseball franchise) and Girlfriend2000 (who have a live date in the Boston area in March).

shoot shoot shoot---why don't you kill me

kaito manages a layered sound that is at times staccato, at times discordant, at times urgent and chanty, and at times just plain silly.

i saw them play a few years ago at SXSW and was really blown away. "shoot shoot" is by far my favorite song and has made it to the list of enemy lemon classics.

take a listen:

kaito--shoot shoot
kaito--johnny demo

Thursday, February 16, 2006

To Bed Then

Philadelphia's Buried Beds have officially released their impressive full length debut Empty Rooms. I had really loved their initial EP but was fired up for the album - I knew that they would be fully exploiting their new string section. The album is a little unfocused and meandering in parts, but there are lots of moments of icy beauty and mood to revel in. For fans of glacial and orchestral indie-pop.

Buried Beds - Perfect Skyline
Buried Beds - Forever In You

buy it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pandacide, not as bad as you might think

When it's a record label, not an act of murder. Petaluma's Pandacide hosts a tight little, tastily diverse roster, with music ranging from the sublime to the good version of the opposite of sublime.

The Bay Area's Velvet Teen make seriously epic music that'd be comfortable on a bill with the Doves or the Sharp Things.
The Velvet Teen - A Captive Audience

Sonoma county's Devon Rumrill's Little Cat appear to do the Schnabelesque electro indie that will ring familiar to fans of Carpark and Ghostly stuff. Not my area of expertise, but enjoyable.
Little Cat - d

And then there's lovable Swedes Henry Fiat's Open Sore, who keep it fast, loud, and rock.
Henry Fiat's Open Sore - 4

Buy it all at the Pandacide shoppe.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Philly-Style #8

This installment of the "popular" Philly-Style feature brings us two gems from entirely separate Philly days of yore.

Frank Brown has always been a man about Philly Town. Having achieved a modicum of local and national acclaim with Buzz Zeemer, Brown is currently making excellent, hummable Petty-meets-McGuinn-y stuff on the solo tip, under the name his mama (presumably) gave him. But before all this, there was Flight of Mavis, whom I saw open for Roger McGuinn himself one overcast day at Penn's Landing. They made jangly pop, somewhere in the realm of REM and Dramarama. It was all up in my high school tape deck, and still makes me all emotional when I put it on today. Here, evidence of the goodness that they brewed-- Brown, drummer Ken Buono, and bassist Dave McElroy, all of whom continued on as the core of Buzz Zeemer (supplemented with erstwhile Philly rock dignitary Tommy Conwell). Buono continues to play in the modern era with the Wishniaks' Andy Chalfen in Trolleyvox, certain to be featured in a future Philly-Style edition. This is from their eponymous 1989 debut.

Flight of Mavis - On My Mind
Buy it!

Recliner are harder to follow up on, in spite of their having made music more recently than FOM. This is largely due to me not knowing any of their last names, which leaves me at a loss on google. I'm pretty sure we played with them once, or maybe I saw them open for Moped in the second set of yore of which I speak. They made good, slightly weird, sleepy guitar pop and I don't know what happened to them. This is from the album "Cookies," which appears to have come out on Kept in the Dark records during probably 1996 or 1997, and was engineered by Jason Cox at the former Studio Red and someone else at Dead Beat Studio. Anyone with information on their current whereabouts, the comments section awaits.

Recliner - Elle

Feelin' a lil' punky.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
I'm not punk. Never was, never will be. But, being human, I must listen to the punk now and again, even though it's only to pretend that I'm angry and youthish for the benefit of maintaining a salaried position at a job that caters to the youths. Here I present a sampling of recent things you might find in my collection.

From Toronto, Brutal Knights are indeed brutal and chivalrous whilst discussing the art of gaily pleasuring oneself whilst watching in the mirror.
Brutal Knights - Self Gay Handjob
You should be able to pick it up here.

Santa Rosa, California's Ashtray employ a multi-gender vocal front, providing the kind of aural irritation that good punk should. Reminds me of East Bay punk heroes Blatz.
Ashtray - Joe Morato Bomb
For purchase.

Then there's Manitoba's Propagandhi, who have been making searing, articulate metal-inflected radical leftist punk for almost 2 decades. In an era where bands prefer to stick with more generalized "political" speech, a new Propagandhi record always means a good solid lyric sheet full of underreported stories, and movement-stirring leads.
Propagandhi - Die Jugend Marschiert
You can buy it here.

Jade Tree manage to consistently put out a solid blend of the indie and punk. Orlando's New Mexican Disaster Squad fall right into line with Paint it Black, Kid Dynamite, etc..
New Mexican Disaster Squad - Tightrope
Preorder now!

Picking up where Lifetime left off, and throwing in a hefty dose of power pop, Philadelphia's Loved Ones, who have also worked with Jade Tree, do a decidedly more melodic thing. Dirty enough to set itself apart from mainstream pretenders, the Loved Ones' music (or at least this track) gives a lyrical tip o' the ol' cap to the Boss.
The Loved Ones - Jane
It's buyable very soon.

to the birds

when i met danny barria freshman year of college, 1994, we bonded over our mutual love of suede and his virginia is for lover's t-shirt. at the time, danny's favorite suede song was "to the birds," a rare bside on the "animal nitrate" single. i think we should keep it, and a few other stellar suede songs, in rotation. danny is now a part of the big sleep--tasty and dense like homemade, whole grain bread.
here are a few favorites:

buy it!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

We're Gonna Make It After All

Parks & Recreation are from Portland, Oregon and are about to release their debut album What Was She Doing On The Shore That Night? on the very excellent Hush label. The track below is from that album and is an homage to the grand musical spectacles of old. If the lyrics don't give you a smile the outlandish orchestral arrangement surely will. I'm surprised this is not being used as the theme song for some hipster sitcom. Gotta dance!

Parks & Recreation - Break Into Song
buy this!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Leroy Says Hello

my friend sara played "Anchorage" for me sometime in college and I never forgot it. i instantly had a taste for Michelle Shocked, which later butressed by my love of "The Liars Club" author Mary Karr. recently i heard the song played over the sound system at marshall's. that's a bit scary i know, but just keep in mind, that surburban philly sensation, Garden Party (FB, KRM), did a killer, never recorded version of "Anchorage" back in '89. recall dreams of east texas right here.

Michelle Shocked--Anchorage
Michelle Shocked--TheL&NDontStopHereAnymore
Michelle Shocked--MemoriesOfEastTexas
buy it

Pandacide, not as bad as you might think

When it's a record label, not an act of murder. Petaluma's Pandacide hosts a tight little, tastily diverse roster, with music ranging from the sublime to the good version of the opposite of sublime.

The Bay Area's Velvet Teen make seriously epic music that'd be comfortable on a bill with the Doves or the Sharp Things.
The Velvet Teen - A Captive Audience

Sonoma county's Devon Rumrill's Little Cat appear to do the Schnabelesque electro indie that will ring familiar to fans of Carpark and Ghostly stuff. Not my area of expertise, but enjoyable.
Little Cat - d

And then there's lovable Swedes Henry Fiat's Open Sore, who keep it fast, loud, and rock.
Henry Fiat's Open Sore - 4

Buy it all at the Pandacide shoppe.

Metal Discourse

It is well known that metal bands have a penchant for exploring the themes that haunt the male adolescent: medieval warfare, science fiction dystopia, black magic, getting laid, rocking harder than anyone else, etc. Also, the particular literary references in metal almost always point back to the books we read in high school:

Hemmingway - "For Whom The Bell Tolls" - Metallica
Coleridge - "The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" - Iron Maiden
Huxley/Orwell - "Operation: mindcrime" - Queensrÿche
Tolkien - "Battle of Evermore" - Led Zepplein

I could go on.

Where are the mp3 links you ask? Why do I tease?

This post is about a stranger pattern. Heavy metal bands (two of them British!) singing heroic and epic songs about...Native Americans. Just to make it completely insane, two of these tracks are sung from the Native perspective, as in Freddie Mercury singing things like:

"White man White man
Our country was green and all our rivers wide
White man White man
You came with a gun and soon our children died"


Manowar - Spirit Horse of the Cherokee
buy this!

Queen - White Man
buy this!

Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills
buy this!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Creepy feelings...

...What with all the talk of domestic surveillance. There are so many stories flying around. Gonzales and Hayden briefed the House Intelligence committee on some details of the NSA program. A FISA court judge warned Bush & Co. that the program was unlawful years ago but didn't tell anyone else. There's a new version of the short-lived Total Information Awareness creeporama going on, wherein the government is data-mining millions of our emails and blog posts (ohmygod...I do those things) but it's called ADVISE (Analysis, Dissemination, Visualization, Insight, and Semantic Enhancement), which is so much fuzzier and so much less Orwellian than Total Information Awareness. And, according to Firedoglake, Arlen Specter is attempting to call ex-Justice Dept. official and generally principled gent James Comey before the Senate Judiciary, but Comey worries the White House may invoke executive privilege if he testifies.

It all adds up to a whole lot of surveilling in the air and it's got me fairly paranoid. Here's hoping that, at the very least, decent folk from both parties do whatever it takes to convince our Prez and Attorney General that they don't get to ignore the law and the congress for the duration of the open-ended War on the Feeling of Fear (we're winning...by the way, be terrified.). I heard McClellan say today that "we're safer now, but we're not safe." Sounds like a plan!

Anyway, this was all just a way to get to these two eerie songs from the chillingest year of all, 1982, which was, like almost a quarter-century ago. Holy shit.

Here's a chilling projection of the potential for Big Brother in our time. Brrr. English producer turned project guru Parsons and Wolfson found the softest way to touch the deepest fear in me as a youngster.
The Alan Parsons Project - Eye in the Sky

Frida (Anni-Frid Lyngstad Fredriksson Andersson), ex-ABBA, turned in this paranoia-fest in 1982 under the watchful eye of guest producer Phil Collins.
Frida - I Know There's Something Going On

Oh, and by the way, welcome J. Welcome.

This. Is. Out. Of. My. Hands.

Hi everybody, it's jbreitling. I'm new here. This seems like an obvious place to start:

In the year 20-oh-six it is not worth explaining everything that unknown Wayne, Penn.-based hardcore act Kam Fong was and was not. Time ignored the band in its '90s un-heyday and Time continues to ig... Hey, isn't Project Runway on? Even while the act was (sniffing) solvent(s) it was primarily legendary. Meaning that so much of the Fong experience was imaginary, and what wasn't imaginary was opiatedly surreal. And what wasn't imaginary or opiatedly surreal was just weird or f'd up. Camden Fog? Wrangler partial-elastic? Holzvarth? Corn liquor? Unkempt people with appellations like Cooch, Drums, Burt Rujz (alias "Paul Rugger"), Postman, not to mention scenesters like Dust-Smokin' and The Farge or… Like I said, it didn't make much sense then, and it can't translate into the now for those who weren't there.

What the record will show is that Kam Fong created punishing music with insane chops and often remarkably powerful lyrics. The full package boasted equal parts Black Flag, Frank Zappa and Kiss and had near-analogs in contemporary work by Don Caballero and June of 44. I present three tracks to you today. Many of you may know the Fastbacker, but many of you may not know that the guy can four track like a mofo. The first of the three Fong cuts below was engineered by FB (and at about 4:35 into the track you'll notice he has depressed the "Totally Bananas" button); the second track, "Roger + Rerun," would have been the act's breakthrough track if it had ever broken through anything; and the final cut is a version of the Fong classic "AFC" featuring a bone-chilling vocal by alternate bassist The Postman.

Kam Fong -- "Instrumental No. 1/Locusts (with Shyam Kannan)."[Removed]
Kam Fong -- "Roger + Rerun (w. Intro/Mono)."[Removed]
Kam Fong -- "AFC (Ardmore Version)."[Removed]


June of 44 -- "Sharks And Sailors." [Removed]

Let's Get Close

Juana Molina is a breathy Argentinian folk singer with a love of electronic texture and subtly dramatic dynamics. Fans of Keren Ann and Savath & Savalas should dig on this.

Strangely, she was also a big star on South American TV, as the comic lead of "Juana y sus hermanas". Odd. I find her music to be quite beautiful - check her site for more mp3s.

Juana Molina - No es tan cierto
buy this!

Juana Molina - Quien
buy this!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Indie Rock Aerobics

Wishful Thinking

We hit a little warm spot this week here in Brooklyn, but Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter is on the way. Don't matter to me.

This is the tune I always play for myself when the weather breaks; it makes it official. The Undertones were a great Irish pop-punk group in the Buzzcocks mold from the late 70's. Their singer, Feargal Sharkey, went on to make some really crapp-o solo albums, one of which I bought on tape cassette - thanks Rolling Stone!

The Undertones - Here Comes The Summer

I always remember this next track playing on WPRB (Princeton University's always amazing radio station) when I was home from college in the summer. Only Richman can pull off this kind of obvious sentimentality without sounding like a fake.

Jonathan Richman - That Summer Feeling

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Three Manifesti

Another meaty Swedish ball o' indie. I quite like this midtempo number from Stockholm's Logh, who finished this 2005 album under the watchful eye of the great Pelle Gunnerfeldt, who has worked wonders previously for The Hives and the Sahara Hotnights.
Logh - Destinymanifesto
Buy it! (more mp3s here)

Here's an early (he sounds so young!) Talib Kweli track from the first Lyricist Lounge Comp, much more definitively named, simply, "Manifesto". He delivers clearly on the manifesto concept, articulating a 10-point plan for the proper MCitizen. And, lucky for all, the second half of this mp3 delivers fake live shenanigans to stand in for the actual live shenanigans of the actual Lyricist Lounge.
Talib Kweli - The Manifesto
Buy it!

And finally, the hyper-enunciated acousti-pop-punk of Chicago's Even in Blackouts, who remind me, loosely, of VV/Alison Mosshart's outfit previous to The Kills, Florida's Discount. The manifesto of which they speak apparently is on the loose.
Even in Blackouts - Missing Manifesto
Buy it!

The Sadness of the Dying Bullfighter

P.W. Long started out his career in singing and playing guitar in Mule, a southern-fried (but from Detroit) pig fuck outfit that ran in the usual crowd: recorded with Steve Albini, released albums on Touch & Go, etc. I saw them at the New Music Seminar (a CMJ competitor, long defunct) in New York City when I was but a wee teenager. They had this great power and bluster and gave you the feeling that the fractured rythmns of the band might send them literally flying off the stage. I also heard that P.W. always sang without any vocals in the monitors so he would scream louder. That's most likely made up, but it certainly sounds that way.

Mule - Hayride
buy it!

Mule parted ways in the late 90's and P.W. (living in Philly now) started with the solo albums. More influenced by soul, folk and classic rock than the Mule albums, his solo albums focus (and reward) with their songwriting and big heart. The song below is the saddest I've ever heard about your best friend (in this case, his dog) dying on you.

P.W. Long - Aw Bruiser
buy it!

P.W. was never very prolific after he went solo and I heard that he had a serious drinking problem too, which could explain his lack of output. Nonetheless, the two albums that I have (haven't heard the latest) are solid gold.

Our man played many a show with Richard Buckner and this last track was captured on tape by Secretly Canadian's Jonathan Cargill before one of their sets. It's just Buckner and Long playing a dark and chilling version of this old traditional. It was released on The Unaccompanied Voice: An A Capella Compilation (the tune is just claps and vocals) and it will stick in the brain.

Richard Buckner & P.W. Long - Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down

buy it!

Monday, February 06, 2006


More solid post-punk revival from the UK; they've got a factory over there or something. These boys hail from Newcastle Upon Tyne (I live in Brooklyn Upon East River) and have been making some noise on MTV2 and other big channels.

I actually prefer the demos on their B-sides/outtakes album Missing Songs (the last three tracks) - a bit grittier and more distinctive. Here's one:

Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure (Original Demo Version)
buy it!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The "New" Thing

In my opinion, the early to mid 1960's produced the best jazz ever made. Still wedded to the great swing of more traditional bop, but fully engaged with the classical avant-garde, committed to both firece improvisation and complex composition and unafraid to prod at the edges of what we consider "music" or "jazz," the musicians of The New Thing were pushing themeslves to produce the most sophisticated music possible, before the forces of free jazz, rock and roll (and jazz-rock fusion) changed the landscape forever.

Much of this music was created by a small core of men recording for the Blue Note label in a variety of settings, with different leaders. The tracks below feature the bulk of the key players (no Herbie Hancock though,) but on some sessions where the leaders are bit less known.

Bobby Hutcherson - Catta (from Dialogue 1965)
Bobby Hutcherson - vibraphone, trumpet - Freddie Hubbard, woodwinds - Sam Rivers, piano - Andrew Hill, bassist - Richard Davis, drums - Joe Chambers
buy this!

Grachan Moncur III - Air Raid (from Evolution 1963)
Grachan Moncur III - trombone, Jackie McLean - saxophone, Lee Morgan - trumpet, Bobby Hutcherson - vibraphone, Bob Crenshaw - bass, Tony Williams - drums
buy this!

Andrew Hill - Refuge (from Point of Departure 1964)
Andrew Hill - piano, Eric Dolphy - woodwinds, Joe Henderson - saxophone, Kenny Dorham - trumpet, Richard Davis - bass, Tony Williams - drums
buy it!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Say goodbye to your Daydream Nation

Boston's Blind King make a big, quiet, warm feeling in your pants with their delightful music. They bring a touch of the Yo La, a touch of the Galaxie, and a touch of the love...a big love touch, you might say.

The Blind King - Punk Rock Dream
Buy it!

More downloads here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mateless state celebrates impending States dates for Mates

In these grim times, we here in the USd'A have this to cheer: the indefatigable Mates of State are out on the road again...check here for details. Oddly, no mention of this in the State of the Union this week.

But, to follow the unfortunate example of our head of state, I present the straw man. There are some who say they can't vibe with the Mates of State. There are those who seem unable to handle ridiculously exuberant male/female vocal interplay. My question to these enemies of freedom: can't you just let go and swim in the delicious giddiness of it all? Can't you just be a pinball in the machine? If not, I feel sorry for you...and it's not like Mates of State are gonna come a-beggin, which makes your loss that much lonelier and pathetic..er.

This track actually feels like (in relative terms) kind of a major break, production- and composition-wise, from MoS's previous work. It's up on Barsuk's site, from the upcoming album, Bring it Back, due out March 21st.

Mates of State - Fraud in the '80s
Conceptualize pre-ordering it!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

the jewel of the coral sea

the first time you hear "in between the days" by the coral sea, you may recall that jewel song...but keep listening. you'll like it. it's very pretty and gentle. if you're still in doubt, give "ancient modern people a try."

the coral sea--in between the days

the coral sea--ancient modern people.

buy it!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Man, A Woman, A Rock Steady groove

In the interest of keeping our lack of momentum from devolving into a serious case of joementum, I desperately drop upon you the sweet sounds of man and woman making the soulful sounds of a ska/rock steady duet.
Please pay a visit to the good folks at Heartbeat to give them their propers and your money.

Have a bit of a skank:
Derrick & Patsy - Housewife's Choice
Stranger & Patsy - Hey, Hey Baby
Nicky Thomas & Dolores - Red Eye
Velma & Clancy - Let Us Be Lovers
Alton Ellis feat. Phyllis Dillon - I'm Just A Guy (soul style)

And, on my usual tangent flow, I present the somewhat-curiously-named late-period Whispers hit.
The Whispers - Rock Steady