Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Unbridled joy

I found a copy of a 5th Dimension record in a dollar bin and have been digging "Light Sings" as our northern light packs it in for the long winter. Quality effortless Joe Osborn bass line for the ages, snaking all around the various melodies going on.

This variety-show appearance is (1) maximum 1971 and (2) also pretty awesome. I am always in awe of people who can make it look like they are having the time of their lives at all times. The joy joy joy joy down in their heart.

The Umbrellas' "Pictures" videos is an interesting study in this phenomenon. The three people not wearing a dress in the video are standing dead still, the drummer occasionally hamming it up a bit (and creating time-lapse balloon animals), but the female guitarist/singer is exuding unbridled joy throughout. Is this a function of the socially distanced separate filming? A function of their not wearing coordinated outfits?

Sometimes I wish I could exude unbridled joy at all times. But man, too much of the time these panels from an Ivan Brunetti comic come to mind:

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The Servants, unexpected moments, cheap old man rantings

The Servants' album Small Time is pretty great. Due to lack of funding, they ended up doing these songs as basically demos and they never went anywhere, but they sound great as a result. Certainly much better than if they had received a coat of George H.W.-era audio sheen. Perfect intimate low-key sound quality, a hard-working Boss Dr. Rhythm playing everything it knows and an Octave Cat synthesizer blorping out weird little bloops, songs that are sneaky and smart without announcing how sneaky and smart they are. It gets stuck in my head a lot.

In the middle of the first song, "Everybody Has a Dream," the singer lets out a little vocal "brrrip!" that comes out of nowhere. Why did he choose to do that?! And why is it so great?! Of course this makes me think of former Portland mayor Bud Clark's beloved "whoop whoop!" We need more of this sort of thing.

The album is unfortunately only available on fancypants expensive new vinyl, paired with a second disc of less-vital demos with even worse recording quality. There's a lot to be said for principled lousy sound quality - c.f. Four Gods' only single, which this reminds me of - but something about paying $25 for a record just gets me. Sigh. Bring on the CD revival already!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The exquisite pain of library piracy

The kids today with their Rhapsody and Napster and Soulseek and Limewire and Qobuz.

They'll never know the exquisite pain of checking out abused albums from the library and realizing that the album is like 49 minutes long, so they'll need to either leave a lot of space on a C-60 or leave a couple songs off one side of a C-90.

I found a bunch of Elv*s C*st*ll* CDs at a garage sale recently. He's always one of those marginal artists for me - I enjoyed his stuff when I checked it out from the library in my youth, but now it's pretty clear that he suffered from getting a lot of smoke blown up his *** early in his career and turned into a giant *******. Still, *mp*r**l B*dr**m is kind of fascinating, particularly when I get the CD for 25 cents. The *ttr*ct**ns are a pretty great backing band and there are some good ideas. But I wish there was someone there to tell him to stop going overboard. I ended up omitting "*lm*st Bl**" and "P*dg*n *ngl*sh" from my C-90 back in the day and I think those were good choices.

Bl**d *nd Ch*c*l*t* is just terrible. Points for the Esperanto but negative points for errors in the Esperanto.

In any case it feels good to have CDs. You can't throw Deezer out the window.

Thursday, September 16, 2021



If you ever have a bad song stuck in your head, or if you just need the world to be more ridiculous, here is your solution. Also good for dance party Thursdays at home - just tested it with a 4-year-old on my shoulders. Certified hit.

I listen to this more than I should admit.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

New album _Theory Internal_

I've got a new album! And forgive me for saying this, but it's pretty great. 33 tracks of pointy jangled sharp pop music. Yours for either free at Internet Archive or, in a new development, $1 at this little website called Bandqlamp.

This ostensibly concludes my 99-track CD, and I've distributed some proto copies to the world, but I'll probably end up severely editing things and going with 75 tracks or so. It's better that way.

Go get it!

Sunday, August 29, 2021


I found myself reading a 1982 issue of Billboard for some reason. An endless number of pages going on about how absolutely wonderful ASCAP and its then-president Hal David are (snore), but I liked this step from the section on "how do we monetize this play of 'I Will Survive' on some Philadelphia radio station?" I would like to see how they went from a series of mi sol sol sol sol fa sol and then on and on until they came up on "Blitzkrieg Bop." (Note: forgive my lack of theory chops.)

Were there punchcards involved? Minicomputers? The internet is surprisingly silent. 

The only real hit on the less creepy search engine (aside from long-link-deathed "lists of weird jobs" from the 00s) was from someone who happened to mention that she worked as a solfeggist before or during her career as an adult actress. Details are scant. Clearly she has underestimated the huge potential audience of weirdos reading early-80s music industry magazines and asking themselves "what was that all about?"

Friday, August 20, 2021

Three Berry Icecream


Every so often I get a Three Berry Icecream song stuck in my head (usually "Fine Day") and I search to see if they've done anything. Lo and behold there's a "quarantine session" on the YouTube. Totally charming as always, and bonus points for matching stripes!

In a better world "Fine Day" would be a standard.  It has a lovely melody and a sweet arrangement and it speaks to the universal desire to hang out inside and listen to records and read picture books and look at lovely things that one has collected - wait, that's NOT a universal human desire? FINE. I'll wait for a better world, I guess. This sweet and twee little number has gotten me through multiple weird moments of sadness and anxiety and I wish more people knew about it.

I saw them in 2000 or so in the last few months of my ill-fated California experiment. I was burned out and young but not so young, and I was feeling hope for the first time in a long time after some extremely dire romantic entanglements burned themselves out. 3BI played in some venue in the Inland Empire with the Fairways. There were glockenspiels and everything in the world was shiny and beautiful for a brief moment.