Among my favorite opening lines ever:
The little bunny didn't mean to be naughty.
But he didn't try very hard to be good.
I've always liked jangly indie-pop, and I have often tried to create it, but I've always been too much of a monster to make nice, straightforward songs that people would actually, you know, like. I always have to find some way to ruin things.
The song linked above is by Spanish band Vacaciones. They make fine, fun, breezy indie-pop, and yup, we've got four chords strummed in sequence, head-bopping 4/4 time, but then they just randomly throw in one measure in 6! Wait, what just happened? Are things going to get weird? No, we head back to 4/4. OK, bopping head again.
Second verse, same as the first - wait, there's that measure in 6 again! And then back to 4/4 like nothing ever happened. The song jangles its effervescent and totally normal way to the end (less than two minutes long - I approve).
That weird little glitchy moment makes this unassuming song so so much better. That wait-did-I-just-hear-that moment. The reason why I find myself singing the rest of it.
I try to write a song like that and I end up with the following: an intro in 4. 4. 2. 7. 3. 3. 3. 4. 3. Because I am a monster.
I realized that I was mostly listening to music from 1969 during today's workday.
I've been reading a bunch of Trouser Press magazines from their delightful and invaluable archive, and that sent me down a rabbit hole that eventually ended up in me listening to my dad's old copy of the Who's Tommy. Things I noted:
Great album from 1969: Gilberto Gil's self-titled album from 1969, the one with "Cérebro Eletrônico" on it. I could listen to this one over and over again. So many crazy sounds, and some tape squeaks that I wholeheartedly approve of on the last song. I need to check out more of his stuff.
Some people are early adopters of technology. Not me. But I have always enjoyed being an early scavenger. Do you remember how you were listening to music in the mid-aughts? I recently uncovered a stash of mini-CDRs with mp3s on them:
I owned a weird little Philips CD player that only played mini-CDs (talk about dead ends!). You could burn 4 or 5 albums on a little disc, then take the weird little CD player into your mid-90s Geo Metro, plug one appendage into the power/cigreet lighter, plug another appendage into the tape deck, and presto! You could be listening to your favorite Amon Düül II albums that you acquired... somewhere.
You'll note the names of several mid-aughts Portland bands in which I played. All culs-de-sac as well (in several cases, due to my own financial/emotional inability to go on tour/commit to the R&R lifestyle). All great though.
Ever since that weird little Philips CD player disappeared, these CDRs have basically been useless, so they've just been floating around boxes in my garage, naked, getting more and more scratched up. A wiser person would have just tossed them a decade ago, but somehow I never got rid of them. So yesterday I put them in my weird CD player that I bought on OfffrrUpp - whose main virtues are (a) being cheap, and (b) not being afraid to play any CDR, no matter how cheap or damaged - and they played. Just like that. So I've been having a weird third-wave pirated-media nostalgia experience, listening to old MP3s of, say, Ege Bamyasi, which I _had_ originally taped from my college radio station back in the 90s, but which sounded totally futuristic even then, and then I reacquired that music through the wonders of sketchy late-90s early-aughts internet, and now I'm in the future feeling nostalgia for multiple backwards vestigial technologies. What a world.
I love anything with the words "space," "nut," or "master" in the title, and I love groovy fonts, so it stands to reason that I would want to get this:
That said, after a lifetime of thrifting, I do not want any more avocado green plastic items in my (very small 90s-era) kitchen. And I'm sure the old plastic would crack if you even just look at it, much less apply heavy pressure to nuts. So for my nut cracking needs (we bought a bunch of hazelnuts from a local orchard - largely because I wanted to hang out with their goats), I bought a much less exciting contemporary nut cracker.
If anyone can vouch for the Space Nut Master's efficacy at cracking nuts, please create a blog post about how great it is. Someday I will search for this item again. We'll meet on the internet.
Today I took the afternoon off and took a long bike ride. It was a warm day even though the sun is starting to do that horrible thing it always does at the beginning of October at the 45th parallel. A young and glamorous couple was sitting in the sun in the yard of my wife's old elementary school, bare midriffs, smoking. More bare midriffs at the used tire store. I grew impatient with people doddering in the bike lane, but at the exact moment I realized that I was going faster than everyone else, I was passed by a stealth bro, somehow going twice as fast as I was despite exerting zero effort. (Not an ebike.) With long hair flowing in the autumn breeze, he sat up hands-free and disappeared off into the distance, young and infinitely powerful.
I had a hankering to get some stuff from My Vinyl Underground/Jigsaw Records for the first time since the cooooooovid hit. I got a bunch of tapes (gotta love the $5-7 price point in 2020) and put them in my bike bag to head home. One of the tapes is a lovely thing by a couple Australians whose work has been there for me in weird times. I'll write about said work next.
Another thing I got was Elton Britt's Yodel Songs because the light this time of year always reminds me of my dad (it's almost been ten years) and because at one point when I was in high school, he and I and Bob from our church formed a yodeling country band for a talent show. My dad did the yodeling and he was good. We did a song called "That's How the Yodel Was Born" which is somehow not the same "That's How the Yodel Was Born" that is found on Mr. Britt's LP. Somewhere I have a tape. It was a struggle to keep my hyper young fingers playing I-V-I-V on the bass guitar, but somehow I did it.
News: CDs are cool again! Right?! Just like blogs! Decouple your listening and social media from gross algorithms and the all-glowing all-seeing eye in your pocket. Give me a thing that I can listen to or look at anywhere, sequentially, in some sort of artist-determined order, nothing automatically added to my "next up" column or tracked by Big Data. Plus they play in my car, in my cheap little stereo, on my crazy person stereo in the office. I am totally ready for the CD comeback once this dumb vinyl thing burns itself out. The idea of paying $20 for some big clunky LP made out of dinosaur blood that I'll have to tote around until the end of my days is just ridiculous. (NB: Old cheap 45s from the 50 cent bin are fine. See previous post.)
Plug: I am glad that Trouble in Mind Records continues to indulge my love for cheap physical media by offering CDs of most of what they do (not CD-Rs - real CDs!), and in space saving cardboard sleeves no less. Everything that is bad about LPs is good here. Their recent reissue of the Possible Humans album is a case in point - that first song "Lung of the City" sounds so good on crispy digital through my crazy person speakers from the 70s. Not ready to give the entire CD a blanket Tape Mountain Approval yet, but what an opening song.
Preschooler jam of the week: M's "Pop Muzik"!!!!!!!!! More about that one later.
We're in the middle of these epic epic wildfires, the closest of which is closer to us than, say, the other side of Portland. We haven't opened the windows in days, and the horrific air quality (worst in the world!) is keeping us inside all the time. Boy's daycare is closed, so it's been all preschooler all the time.
Fortunately, we are pretty good at not leaving the house (song 1 here is a good example and a statement of purpose) and we've been staying inside. Boy is playing with cars and balls and, most importantly, playing records:
Top preschooler jams 9/12/20:
"Freaky Dancin'" - Cameo (the list of cities is of interest)
"I Want You To Want Me" - Cheap Trick (he sings along and claps his hands)
"Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" - Ramones (always a dance party)
He also got way into a couple songs from the Chills' Submarine Bells after hearing "Heavenly Pop Hit" on the radio this morning. Pretty good taste for a three-year-old.
Lately he has taken to the official Atari game of Gang Wizard, "Freeway." What a great game - the sole objective is to get a chicken to cross the road - and it's one of those games that can be explained in under ten words, sort of like Pong's "Avoid Missing Ball for High Score." "Cross Road, Avoid Vehicles." He gets it.
I bought a Braspberrby Bpi on that internet auction site - they gave me a $25 discount in honor of their 25 year anniversary, so I figured I would buy an item on which I could emulate the things that I bought and sold on that internet auction site 25 years ago. Totally circular. Anyway, I've installed Bretropie on it, and so far it seems pretty slick, but I think the thing I would most like to emulate is the amount of time I had back in the late 90s for futzing around with old videogame consoles. Time bought at the expense of not doing work for grad school, sigh (see song 13 here.)
The new album is here! Available for free download at Internet Archive:
33 new songs on this follow-up to Duplex Cremes. Part of a ridiculous life goal of creating a 99-track CD. 2/3 of the way there! Songs about poverty, regret, memory, failure, exercise, and the Tualatin Public Library. Full album cover (mimeographed on index cards) is available as a PDF - see associated files.
I like this album a lot. Certain themes come up again and again. I may have used a certain gimmick to come up with song titles. Whatever it takes to make an album come together. Most songs were recorded in brief, frenzied sessions in my cluttered garage before my songwriter's group on Sunday afternoons, since my life has been busier than ever during these crazy times.
The next album is well underway (1/3 finished at this point - so now I have 77 songs toward my 99-song goal).
I shot some footage for a video for "Trim Twist!" and may need to actually assemble that at some point. It is highly silly, as is the song, inspired by a piece of garage sale exercise equipment.
Anyway, take a listen. If you'd like an actual CD and live in the Portland area, I can arrange to get one to you. If you're outside the area, drop me a line. Email is on the main tapemountain.com page.
I was in a band called All I Feel Is Yes. This band is on permanent hiatus, but we had some good times. Here is one of my favorite AIFIY songs:
I am proud of my super honk prog bass line.
It's up on Bandqwamp for pay what you want, the "what you want" going to Rosehip Medics here in Portland.
My 3-year-old boy loves music (always has) and so when we found a low-quality record player at a yard sale, we jumped. I brought out "the spindle" (a stack of crackly 80s earworms on 45 from a free bin) and grabbed a few more 45s from a local record store's 50 cent bin, a cheap seller on Disquogs, etc., and told him to have at it.
This could have turned out terribly if he'd been drawn to the terrible records on the spindle, but thankfully he has pretty good taste. His top jams this week:
Gap Band "Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)"
I think he likes it because it is ostensibly about a car going fast, but the handclaps and synth bass seal the deal. Also, from my perspective, sweet video, and this stanza is just awesome:
You told me to go up the block
To get you a strawberry pop
When I got back to the flat
You had burned rubber out the back
Other hits: Raydio "Rock On," Michael Sembello "Maniac," the Royal Guardsmen's "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron" and "Return of the Red Baron" ("Snoopy for President" went a bit too far).
He also loves the Ramones and can name every track on All the Stuff and More, both volumes 1 and 2. Some of the Ramones' more... esoteric interests feel a little weird to be discussing with a 3-year-old, but it is pretty great to sing "Today your love - tomorrow the world" along with him while he pumps his fist.
Coming 9/9/2020 if I get my act together:
Printed on this:
Available on the world's most reviled format, mini-CDR, or on the world's second most reviled format, CDR! If you are interested in getting a copy, drop me a line and/or send me something delightful.
My act will really need to get together for the promotional video (!!!!!!!) to become a reality for the "single" entitled "Trim Twist!