Monday, December 27, 2021

Ladies and gentlemen, the 1990s

Today I woke up with some dumb Versus song stuck in my head from Let's Electrify! Probably the title track. I remember selling that CD on the college quad right before graduation, and they were amazed - why are you selling this totally awesome compact disc? Answer: because I will not miss it. So today, after not thinking about said album for nearly three decades, I look through my RSS reader and apparently the album just got reissued. I load it up on the YooChoob Music player and, yup, still boring. I have schlepped many, many other boring records from rental house to rental house over the past few decades, but it's nice to think about the decisive action I took in the mid-90s.

I've been digitizing some of my 7" records from said decade - might as well. Big winner is The Dead C Vs. Sebadoh, which of course features only the former band. What would have happened if they had devoted themselves to playing what is basically hardcore? It could have been all right. And then they take a sudden extreme left turn into ambient mode after thrashing away for seven songs in under seven minutes. Jarring and delicious.

While riding my exercise bike lately I have been replaying Shenmue II, the recent remaster. I'm not sure if I am proud of having played this game so many times (and now on a third console) but I do find it very endearing in the same way you can really love a good bad movie. I love the fact that duck racing exists, and that this most delightful part of the game is really only there if you are either following a walkthrough or being unbelievably obsessive. (I followed the walkthrough. It's OK.) And speaking of jarring and delicious left turns, I do love the way that it goes from extreme urban fight-fight-fight mode at the end of the Kowloon segment to deeply peaceful walk-through-the-forest-while-chatting mode in the Guilin segment. I'm looking forward to playing it again in another ten years or so, God willing.

Friday, December 17, 2021

¡A la pelota!

 This song makes me want to burst through a brick wall:

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Slack Times _At the Blue Melon Rendezvous_

Thought I'd say a word about Slack Times' At the Blue Melon Rendezvous EP. Short, sweet, instantly familiar jangle pop sounds, total comfort food. I feel like I've always known this album even though I just got it a few weeks ago. I put it on and 10 minutes later I feel better.

Their Bandqlamp page slyly includes the tag "librarian rock," which of course makes it even more endearing. And in the spirit of librarian rock, the four songs appear in alphabetical order and descending order of title length. Tidy!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Cannanes and the power of suggestion

At my songwriter's group on Saturday, one of the submissions sounded a lot like the opening of the Cannanes' "It's a Fine Line Between Pleasure and Pain," though about a million times less depressing. I checked to see if this song was up on the internet; apparently it is not.

I think I summoned something. Later that day, I ended up stopping by My Vinyl Underground/Jigsaw Records. There in the used CD shelf, they had a copy of the Cannanes comp Witchetty Pole, which I had copied onto cassette way back in my college days, and then Feel Good All Over disappeared and the CD became unobtainium. So I got it. Turns out the store had just received a bunch of used material from Tim of Harriet Records fame (!) but had not put it out on the shelves yet, so I had the pleasure of going through box after box of things that I wanted and could have had back in the day but didn't end up getting due to extreme college-era lack of disposable income. I could have dropped a lot of money, but I knew I had to restrain myself, so I bought a copy of the "Broken Bottles" 7" that I'd been looking for forever and a few McTells singles that I didn't have. I may regret not getting several other things, but records are such a dumb thing to spend big money on.

Now I'm listening to Witchetty Pole in all of its fall-apart glory while the extreme wind and rain wrench the last of the leaves off the trees. Good pairing.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Doc at the Radar Station

I checked out Mike Barnes' Captain Beefheart biography from the library. Pretty thorough, if a little rambly. A fun read nevertheless. What a character.

I've been going through most of the Captain's oeuvre over the past week or so. Still not a fan of his stuff from his 70s doldrums, but I'm more of a fan of Doc at the Radar Station than ever. Some gems on Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) too.

Today I was listening to DATRS with my 4-year-old while my wife was out. H was reading the song titles and started cracking up at the title "A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to A Diamond." And the phrase "porcupine fence" also made him laugh pretty hard. He was digging the whole thing. We did some serious piggyback dancing to "Ashtray Heart." I had to make sure to turn it off before we got to "Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee," though.

A little while back I was listening to that album on the speaker on my bike. "Telephone" was playing as I slowly ascended a hill by my house (pulling a kid in a trailer - the going was slow). Two would-be skater teens were lingering on the sidewalk while this middle-aged dude on a bike listened to a middle-aged dude squawk "Telephone! Telephone!" The moment lasted longer than it needed to, and I was OK with that even if did feel completely self-conscious.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Friday picks to click

(1) Magnificent bouncy playing on this newly uploaded gem from the Frontera Collection, Manuel Núñez's "Homenaje a Ures":

(2) The Original "Polka Kings" (1949) Play a Real Old Fashioned Country School House Dance: Super awesome Ukrainian-Canadian polka playing at rocket speeds, like seriously hardcore fast. I was trying to dance with my 4-year-old to this one last night and I could barely keep up with the music. The country school house must have been rocking.

(3) Lest you think I've gone down the roots-music rabbit hole for the last time, 22 Degree Halo's Garden Bed, released today, is pretty compelling. Still figuring it out, but I appreciate the fact that it is a little weirder and a little gnarlier than it needs to be given the idiom. I just put in a bulk order from Lost Sound Tapes. Here's to pop tape labels putting things out fast and cheap.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Windy Sunday computer comforts

I've got a huge translation project in front of me - not difficult, but wordy. The wind outside is making the red leaves sway and the rain fly all over. A couple nice things:

(1) My ancient IBM Model M keyboard, sourced from some thrift store back in the day, back when they were just fusty and old and not some sort of desirable object. LOUD, so loud. Whenever I use it upstairs, my wife asks if it's raining, so I usually use my other, less noisy keyboard (probably worthy of its own blog post). Fortunately, it is currently raining. LOUD. I think my ears are ringing.

(2) Good Morning's new album Barnyard is out now. Good comfort food from a band who put out the memorably woozy Shawcross and then a few albums that were slight to the point that I don't really remember them. This one is pretty good, though. and the video for "Country" casually opens with a shot of a chicken on an old Roland Compu-Rhythm beat box, so they obviously know how to draw my interest.