Thursday, May 25, 2023


Currently listening to this very nice gamelan album with the window while typing. The drums and the construction hammering outside and my keyboard all sound good together.

Speaking of my keyboard: I've been switching off between my two cheapo FreeGeek-sourced Das Keyboards: a brown-switch one with blank keycaps and a blue-switch one with non-blank keycaps. I had thought I preferred the noisy blues, but they kind of drown everything out and make my ears ring. So browns it is. But I'm not enough of a wizard/zen master* to work with blank keycaps. I use too many keyboard shortcuts. So I've been swapping keys out as time permits:

I appreciate the fact that it looks like a molting bird, kind of awkward-looking while it gets its summer set of feathers.

The kid is just about finished with a year of Spanish-immersion kindergarten and I'm amazed at how well he's taken to it. We're reading a library-discard Spanish translation of Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouse at bedtime and it's amazing hearing him interact with me in Spanish. As an American I get thrown off by all the vosotros pronouns (did no Latin American version of this exist, Multnomah County Library?), but kid rolls with it. I always admire attempts to translate abecedariums (abecedaria?) Also, I am going to need to seriously up my spoken Spanish game.

*Note: "Jedi" is probably the most appropriate term to use here, but the official position of this blog is that the Star Wars film universe does not exist.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Steven Arntson _The False Voice_

Friend of Tape Mountain Steven Arntson has a new concertina-and-voice album, The False Voice, and you should get it. 

Without Haste, Without Rest, his previous concertina-and-voice album, came out in 2017 and soundtracked a lot of my sleepless days in dark times with a new-ish baby. I remember listening to it, just completely delirious from not sleeping and from it being the dark days of 2017, coming home from going hiking with the kiddo, how he had fallen asleep in the Ergo carrier while we were on the trail, and now he was awake in the car seat, no nap, no future, all future. It was perfect.

The new album moves on from the "yodels" of the previous album and dispenses with all non-false voice and verbal singing. It feels purer for it. I'll report back once I've absorbed it a little more fully.

Secret live appearance/Wild Carnation/Brenda Sauter

Long-time Friend of Tape Mountain Chris emailed and asked if I wanted to be a game show contestant at a live podcast taping at Passages Bookshop. Of course. All the questions come from 1930s-era trivia books. FOTM Ned R. was also there doing a podcast about J.R.R. Tolkien. Ned is serious about J.R.R.T. - the first thing I saw when I entered the grad-student apartment I would share with him in 1995 was a pen-and-ink drawing of Mr. Tolkien himself. Serious!

Aquarium Drunkard's email list noted that Wild Carnation's album Tricycle was getting a reissue. I had somehow completely missed the boat on this 1994 album* featuring the bassist from the Feelies Mk. II. I checked it out on the YouChoob and it turns out to be totally great, an oversized jangly comfy sweater, the apple that didn't fall far from the tree.

And it helped me realize that I had highly underestimated Ms. Sauter. Her bass playing was always there and I always enjoyed it, but I had never put her on my list of great bassists. But she is great! Her bass playing helped propel the Feelies and Wild Carnation's music, kept it in constant motion, but it was never showy in the sort of way that drew attention to itself. Hearing this album (and comparing and contrasting with some contemporaneous-ish Wake Ooloo stuff) helped me realize what a crucial piece she is/was/will be.

*To be fair, I was in Peak College Radio Mode at that point, so I should have been aware? I don't think I would have ever been too cool for a Feelies offshoot. Maybe the record label didn't send promos to radio stations who, as my favorite promo said, featured "more power than most light bulbs!"

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Grunge Hummel Figurines

 The internet fails us once again:

As Gen-X inches closer to the Precious Moments grandparent portion of its life (don't talk to me, I'm a procrastinator), someone needs to fill this niche!

Tuesday, April 4, 2023


In a moment of work-related desperation, I grabbed the K-Tel compilation Emotions - "Today's Love Hits" (if "today" is 1978). Sick!!!! Why do I own this???? 

What a weird time the late 70s were. These songs do hit some sort of weird nostalgic twinge center of my brain, but I'm mostly struck by how BAD the songs are. In the case of Mary McGregor's "Torn Between Two Lovers," so BAD that it wraps around to being good again. They spell Crystal Gayle's stage surname "Gale." A Seals & Crofts song that is not "Summer Breeze" or "Diamond Girl" is featured. A Player song that is not "Baby Come Back." The album ends with two Brothers Gibb compositions (Yvonne Elliman's "If I Can't Have You" and Samantha Sang's "Emotion") that wipe the floor with everything else here. They feel like an apology.

While some K-Tel compilations have their own terrible charm, this one is just P-U city. 

Side note: I did not know that K-Tel impresario Philip Kives hailed from Oungre, Saskatchewan, which as of 2021 boasted a population of 11 and which looks pretty bleak on Google Maps, even more bleak than my own boyhood stomping grounds. He made it big in Winnipeg, though.

Accordion solos of note


Wait for the accordion solo to come in around two minutes in. Way to make an entrance!

Friday, March 31, 2023

Australian bands, long bus rides, long books

Update: I saw the Dippers/Collate show and it was great. Both bands played with urgency and freshness. Really looking forward to the Dippers record. Collate have shifted to a higher gear since I saw them last and have added some, dare I say it, swagger to their presentation along with the usual fierceness and sterling set of post-punk/no-wave influences. I stayed to the end of their set even though I could have saved myself a $2.50 bus fare by leaving a few minutes earlier. 

Speaking of the bus: I love the fact that I can take an hour-long single ride on the 72 bus and end up someplace cool despite living in a highly marginal neighborhood. I used my bus time to finish up my epic journey through The Books of Jacob. I loved it, by the way, even though it took me forever to finish it. And it's the longest book I've read since I plowed through Infinite Jest back in my days after escaping grad school. In retrospect, I love the fact that my way of celebrating post-grad school was to read long books. That and One Hundred Years of Solitude, read in coffeeshops in Orange County as I waited to file the paperwork for my consolation master's.

Shuffle play led me back to Restless Leg's exuberant "Oblivion Banjo". Over-the-top handclaps in 6/8 time talking about vague memories of some time long ago - sign me up! Now I've arrived at the part of the album with flutes where they talk about trees.