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

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. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Bushwalking (again), the perfect wrong note, self-referenced

I have gone on about how great Bushwalking's No Enter is. Today, shuffle play threw the title track at me and now I'm obsessed again. When you listen, pay attention around 5:30 - there is an absolutely perfect wrong note at 5:44. You can't miss it. It is sour in exactly the right way.

Here are a couple recorded examples of my own attempts at intentional sourness (or microtonal guitar if you prefer) from the past 25 years:

Circle of the Sun

Kohoutek (at the end at least)

I need to do more with this particular mood. I'm feeling it.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Olho Seco

Today is a good day for listening to Brazilian hardcore group Olho Seco! The guitar sound on the four tracks on Grito Suburbano is completely perfect, as are the songs themselves. I imagine they would be a little more comprehensible if I spoke Portuguese, but I'm OK with just being able to transmute a few phrases here and there into Spanish.

While listening to this album, I realized that I think I still own a DOD Punkifier effects box. I have known about Olho Seco and the DOD Punkifier for about a combined (does mental math) 45 years, but I have never actually thought about the fact that the Punkifier's sound is basically the Olho Seco sound. In the ensuing years since I last played through it, apparently its value has increased tenfold or so. What a world.

Here is my endless and frantic contribution to the Punkifier oeuvre, from roughly 2007 or so? I forget. Recorded during a weird moment of the Yuma Nora tour after some extreme intra-band drama. Aaron and I played the radio show without the other two. I threw in a lot of attempts to play "Summer Breeze," which ended up being a recurring motif.

Actually, guitar heroism + "Summer Breeze" really equals the Isley Brothers' version, which I don't think I knew about at the time of recording. Here, let's include it in the blog post:

How many paragraphs did it take for us to get from Olho Seco to Seals & Crofts? Now that is blogging!

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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

The Yips - The Blue Flannel Bathrobe Butterfly

The Yips' The Blue Flannel Bathrobe Butterfly is one of those albums I come back to every year or so. I like how it breaks rules: the first line on the album starts mid-word, the scuzz-and-crash guitar-drum duo 90s sound conflicts strongly with the occasional poetic lyrics, said poetic lyrics conflict strongly with highly matter-of-fact lyrics elsewhere, did they just namedrop gnostic manuscripts on a punk album and then go along to play a single chord for multiple minutes?! and two songs clock in at 7 and 10 minutes respectively. Currently selling for $3 or so on even overpriced online marketplaces because CDs and late-90s scuzz-and-crash sounds are both unfashionable at the moment.

They print lyrics for some of the more interesting songs but not all of them. Alas.

I searched for the album and came up with this Chickfactor interview, in which singer/guitarist Gilmore Tamny provides a quote for the ages:

I realized playing guitar was a perfect mid-point between doing the bills and watching t.v.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Frontera Collection

On the way home from the old-timey tractor festival, we stopped in Woodburn. We got tacos and stopped by a thrift store. At the thrift store, I flip through the LPs. Like a cranky old man, I complain to myself that the thrift-store LPs are two bucks each, but they have some pretty cool ranchero/norteño LPs on record labels that I recognize from previous garage sale finds, so I grab a few, along with copies of Big Bird Sings! and Ernie's Hits!

When I get home, I play the LP by El Palomo y el Gorrión. Of course it is great. I look for more of their stuff online. Lots of it is, including the wonderfully titled Tragedias de Mujeres Infieles. Down the rabbit hole I go.

Some of their 45s appear to be up on a YouTube page called Frontera Collection. OK, whoa - there's an entire Arhoolie archive at UCLA dedicated to this stuff? And there are what, 11,000 records so far at their parent archive?

Anyway, serious serious rabbit hole stuff. If you have any fondness for this sort of thing (or for Peruvian huaynos or what have you), it's a good place to get lost for a long time. If you're not fond of this sort of thing, go watch Chulas Fronteras and come back.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Journey Through the Past

There's a lot to dislike about Amazoomer Billionaire Space Phallus Thrusters, but one of the few small pleasures they offer is that they have my old addresses on file, dating back through every dodgy apartment or shared house I ever had. All the way back to when I was in grad student housing, somehow ordering Krazy & Ignatz books on my Mac Classic, probably paying with a postal money order. Kind of crazy to think that I've been involved in internet commerce for nearly thirty years now. But I digress.

One of the things to dislike about Amazoomer is that they keep all your old addresses on file. My wife was ordering a few little trinkets for the boy, and somehow she ended up sending them to a house where we haven't lived in fourteen years. I pointed this out to her and we both gasped. "It's OK," I said. "I'll drop by there on the bike with the boy tomorrow. It's not that far out of the way."

So yesterday I'm riding home with the boy (he does not care for the unannounced detour AT ALL) and I stop by the old house. Weird to be there, right? I walk up to the door and there's package 1 of 2 with her name on it. I ring the doorbell and wait. I notice the "Protected by ADT" sticker on their window. I knock. No answer. I look in my bike bag for paper and pen. The only paper that I have that is at all usable is one eighth of an old church bulletin, so I tear that off. Sweating, I write a little message and my phone number and wedge it in between the handle and deadbolt. On the way out, I grab our package and I feel like a total criminal.

Today I get a call from the current resident of the house, and he says to swing by after 7. I ride my bike over, and on the way there I get a message saying that he's going to be late. No problem. I pick blackberries by the side of the trail, ride up some trails on Powell Butte, ride around the old streets, largely unchanged. It is awesome.

I head over to the house once he says he's home. I knock on the door, he opens, I pick up the package, and I resist the temptation to look past him into the nondescript ranch house where I lived for two years and where I nearly died once. I know what it looks like. You always remember the places where you nearly die, right?

Somehow I wedge the package onto my bike rack and I head back home into blinding sun.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Richard Youngs

I'm not always inclined to listen to Richard Youngs, but I like the fact that each time I do go to listen to him, he has like eight new albums:

The YouChoob Music algorithm fed me a very pretty cover of "Soon It Will Be Fire" this morning (triggering my RY search), and I'm a little surprised that more people haven't covered his stuff. Whoa, whole-album cover of Sapphie? Good idea!

It sounds like the pandemic has been good to him in terms of his output. Sometimes I wonder how much music I could crap out if unconstrained by job or small-child responsibilities, but then I remember when I barely had a job and I didn't have a small child, and I was not exactly cranking out the hits. (But I think I did manage to play Shenmue II more than once, gulp.)

What, there's another AMOR album as well? Man has the Internet let me down! OK, off to listen to it.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

"For lovers only"

When I'm doing the dishes, I like to watch videos on my tablet, but nothing too engaging, right? Old game shows or Canadian football are about my speed. Things where you can tune out and put away spoons until the noise gets a little louder and it's time to stop clanking around. 

The other day I was watching a 1978 episode of Tic Tac Dough (with commercials) and this ad stopped me in my tracks. The very spirit of soft rock, distilled down to 30 seconds. What on earth is she doing with her vowels in the phrase "Penn Hills?" Is that a triphthong? What, who, or why is "Dynamic Sound of Heather?" Are those heart-shaped hot tubs? She whispers "for lovers only" at the end in case you missed it the first time. It all seems so appealing. So I went to DuckDuckGo* to look for more about this place, and it sounds like the ensuing 43 years have not been kind to this particular love nest. After years of urban-adventurer decay, it's been leveled and returned to the Brodhead Watershed Association. Soft rock dream's loss, wildlife's gain.

*I use the less-creepy and less-good search engine for most things but then I spill out my guts on this Gwoogwoo-owned platform and stumble on 1978 soft rock fantasias on a Gwoogwoo-owned video site. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Crazy person stereo update

On Sunday I was biking around and stopped by a few yard sales in the manufactured home community down the hill. This park is always having yard sales and they're usually not that interesting, but one of the sales was offering this thing for $10, supposedly working:

[record scratch sound combined with bike brake sound]. Whoa, it's a... Technics SA-6800x. How many knobs and buttons and switches are on that thing? I examined it more closely and the answer is "a lot." Is this thing...quad? It's quad. I have no need for the quad features now that we're in the actual future, but more knobs and switches are never a bad thing, right? Plus three tape deck in/outs (!!!) so I can dub back and forth between any number of formats, both obsolete and non-obsolete. 

I pick it up (with my car, not the bike - my bike heroism knows some limits), plug it in, and lo and behold, it does work, pretty much 100%. Knobs are a little scratchy, but a few twists later, things seem to be working OK. Definitely an improvement in both sound and fun over my previous adequate Denon receiver.

Plus, fun fact: My stereo now has pieces from the 70s (receiver), 80s (turntable), 90s (tape deck), 00s (CD player), 10s (Chromecast Audio), and 20s (work computer). And enough jacks to plug everything in. Thank you for reading this very nerdy entry.

Goon Sax Mirror II Pt II

The previous post compared "Temples" to Crabstick. The reviewer would like to change the reference to Crabstick to a reference to Blairmailer and regrets the error. "The Chance" is the one that sounds more like Crabstick.

Also, pretty amazed by the harmonic and rhythmic acrobatics on "Temples." One of those songs that just gets more interesting the more you dig into it - it has sections in 7/4, 4/4, 6/8, some other time signatures probably, and I think it ends up in a key that is not altogether related to the one in which it began? Now I think it sounds more like early Soft Machine, so I guess dude's Syd Barrett reference isn't mere namedropping. Total epic despite its 3-and-a-half-minute running time.

A couple small quibbles now that I've listened to it ten times or so:

  • There are a couple songs that are content to be merely pleasant. I want to see them go BOAT ("Balls Out All the Time", acronym that I inflicted on Cosmonox/All I Feel Is Yes, let's see this trend on Urban Dictionary please, also do not search for this phrase on the internet). 
  • The mastering (at least on the CD) is a little over the top. Things are so squashed. (BOAT, I guess?). Not much room for anything to breathe at all. Sigh.
Where will they go next?

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Goon Sax _Mirror II_ initial thoughts

I was a big fan of the first two Goon Sax albums, so I preordered the new one, especially since the first two singles ("In the Stone," song of summer 2021? and "Psychic") were so good. A slender digipak CD showed up in my mailbox yesterday. Props to a certain large indie for continuing to put out CDs for the cheapskates among us, even if the script font they use doesn't work so well at the smaller scale.

I've only listened to it a few times so far, but so far so good. Things get a lot weirder after the first couple songs.

It's been interesting following the press about this album. The young hipsters in the band name-drop some absurd artists in the press release like Les Rallizes Desnudes (did I recall that correctly? It feels better not to fact-check this one) and Jandek. Reminds me of myself when I was that age, name-dropping DNA or Pere Ubu or something while making garden-variety sad-sack home-taper indie-pop. The press has dutifully stenographed said name-drops because it makes them feel cool themselves to name-drop Luh Rallizay Duhnood or Jaandeqq in their article about this weird little indie-pop band. What a world.

James' songs in particular are very interesting, particularly the all-over-the-place "Temples," sounding not so much like the Representative from Corwood Industries as, well, a high-budget version of Crabstick? Which is actually totally great, but no points with the prestige music media if you name-drop Crabstick (45 views on YouChoob). A bit of on-own-planet wildness that reminds me of Eric Gaffney zagging hard against Lou Barlow. I worry about schisms, but for now things are holding together OK.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Vocalist accompanied and lit by illuminated goose


Listening to Wire's totally inscrutable Document and Eyewitness right now. I bought this one my freshman year of college (I think on the same trip where I bought the Bird Nest Roys LP?) and remember a fairly profound sense of disappointment when it was finished playing, coupled with the fact that I spent a princely $7.99 plus tax at the Princeton Record Exchange. That was like two hours of work study - either delivering junk mail to professors or photocopying impenetrable economics journal articles on a giant hot toner-scented green Océ copier. 

Now that I listen to it again decades later, it's all right. I admire the cheek, the weird descriptions of the on-stage action (see post title), some of the weird moments, the wild version of "Go Ahead." But it still stings that the $7.99 I spent could have been converted into like 32 packets of ramen, or three or four shared pizzas. Still, I survived, and somehow this album keeps following me around.

My boy likes Wire now, particularly the song "Outdoor Miner." Good taste!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

How I spent the apocalypse

The Pacific Northwest was a nuclear furnace last weekend, but I wouldn't know, because I was down in California with my old bandmates. Fun times. First time on a plane since my son was born four years ago. We recorded music, drank a lot of wine (see previous post), hung out at the beach, ate excellent food. So good. The whole time, though, it was pressing on my mind that my mild forest home was broiling in 116 degrees of post-apocalyptic heat. 

I played my first solo set in forever at the end of the wine party. Unamplified, super punk rock. It felt great. I should have recorded it, but I was at the end of an alphabet's worth of wine tasting (see previous post). Oh well. It was made for the moment anyway.

We recorded in a really excellent studio in a really terrible part of LA. I played a Flying V for the first time. Ridiculous ergonomics on that thing, particularly for a smaller individual like myself, but it played well and I felt 100% like a rock star.

I swam in the ocean in Huntington Beach. I needed to get pummeled a little bit by the ocean and the ocean was only too glad to oblige.

I flew back to Portland after the hottest day in the city's history. I got in late enough that it was only 78 degrees out. I had ridden my bike to the airport. Hmm, do I dare to ride home at 1 am after the apocalypse? I did. The city felt dazed, punch-drunk. Rabbits were hopping all over the bike path. No humans except a few people staring from their encampments in the darkness. I rode past our daycare (power was out) in inky blackness. Traffic signals out, tow truck cleaning up wreckage at the intersection. I could swear I saw stars. I rode over the bike bridge and looked out at the people who were crazy enough to be on the freeway at 1:30 am after the apocalypse. 

When I opened the garage door at my house, the house blasted sauna furnace volcano heat at me. Somehow it was even hotter upstairs. Wife and boy were down in Tualatin soaking up my mom's AC. I fell asleep, woke up, and went back to work looking at squiggles.

Wine tasting with the Wine Weirdos

Mike had a ridiculous blind-tasting wine party for his birthday. I drew a cartoon for each wine. I don't know if I actually took a picture of the wine list, though.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Terminals - Last Days of the Sun

Classic New Zealand band plays what might be the ultimate climate change anthem if you listen to it just right:

I'm not sure if that's what it's actually about, but it sounds pretty perfect against our wildfire-scented hundred-degree air in (checks calendar) June.

I like the fact that Brian Crook (100% underappreciated guitar genius) misses a lot of notes in exactly the right way. I like the way that Peter Stapleton veers from playing drum iambs to playing trochees without warning, as he has been doing for decades. Another scorched/scorching guitar solo that sounds like the end of the world. Perfect.

The album itself gets lost in the weeds a bit at times, but when it hits it hits.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Homer Quincy Smith



Homer Quincy Smith "I Want Jesus to Talk with Me"

One of those songs that I forget about for years at a time, and then all of a sudden I remember it, and it is just as harrowing and perfect as the first time I listened to it.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Karlicki Sing Ukrainian Songs for You

This album is so good. Perfect for feeling a little bleak on a rainy day. Here's "The Fortune Teller." I wish I could upload the awesome cover image, but Blogggggggggger is giving me grief. Oh well - click through.

For some reason my mind is telling me to also mention Dara Puspita's wonderful A Go Go. The two don't really have anything in common other than that they were made in the 60s by female singers of languages I don't understand (Indonesian in this case). And Dara Puspita make me want to jump up and down rather than gently sway and mope. But they are both great.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Ukrainian love note to the Internet Archive


Oh Internet Archive, always with the new surprises. After doing one of my periodic gorges on Polkadon DB's YouTube channel (previously), I searched DuckDuckGo for "dance series by various ukrainian artists" - don't we all? - and it turns out that album, with its awesome if unsettling cover (in my favorite magenta-orange color scheme no less), is up on the Internet Archive, along with a squadillion other Ukrainian-Canadian LPs. Karlicki Sing Ukrainian Songs for You is there in all of its perfect melancholy glory. Multiple Interlake Polka Kings albums. You name it. Time to dig deeper.


Supercollider _Dual_

In the garage I found a little CD carrying case (with dubious counterfeit backwards Barbie printed on it). It contained a bunch of CDs that I must have burned for some road trip or other back in the day (my personal Geo Metro was cassette-only until its demise in 2015). ANYWAY there was a CD-R that said something like:


How can I not throw that in my car's CD player, right? I throw it in my car's CD player. What's on there? Hmm, Bucket Owens, OK, I threw my own stuff on there. De Artsen's Conny Waves with a Shell, Good album, but "Farmers Attempt" is glitching out every fifteen seconds or so. Ah, Supercollider's Dual. Cool, I will never get tired of this album, its deep-well crystal reinvention of the electric guitar, poetic lyrics, perfectly flawed voice, made even more flawed by glitching-out mystery CD-R.

This morning I was driving to daycare, boy sitting in the background laughing his head off at The Complete Peanuts 1981-1982, so I turn on that CD and listen to guitar waves pulsing all around me on I-205. We get closer to daycare and I notice that boy is really vibing on the album. I park and wait for the person in front of me to drop off their kiddo. "Stainless" begins and they wave goodbye. Our turn. Boy refuses to leave. "I want to listen to the end of the song!" And even though I know he's being difficult on a Monday, I imagine that he's really into the album.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Lida Husik

I was always a fan of Lida Husik's weird and beautiful records on Shimmy-Disc back in the day. Lots of fond memories of playing "Ship Going Down" at 4 am to no one in the western Philadelphia suburbs on the radio, and then the one time that she played the campus club it was pretty great as well.

So I was looking at the listings for Milwaukie Porchfest and was a little amazed to see that she was playing maybe a mile from my house. What?! And I guess she lives here now? And the show is from 7-8 instead of rock time???!!! So I prepare to head over there on my bike and my 4-year-old son clamors to go with. OK, sounds good, could be a disaster at meltdown o'clock. I hitch up the bike trailer and we're off down the road family-style.

But it turned out to be great. The show was like a warm blanket on a neighbor's front lawn, all perfect calm and restraint. Her voice was in excellent form nearly three decades later, everything was casual and charming, the weather was eerily perfect for late May in the Northwest, and miraculously, my 4-year-old sat watching between my wife and me for the whole concert, totally engrossed.

We turned and went to go. I realized I probably had met and forgot half the people in the audience. We headed out into perfect evening light.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Panasonic Do-Re-Mi

I'm playing records while at work. Not too weird for 2021 (second year of the plague), but it made me think of 1999 or so when I schlepped a Panasonic Do-Re-Mi to my cubicle job. In retrospect that was TOTALLY WEIRD, but I seem to remember my coworkers not totally shunning me as a result of that. Or as a result of my playing Conlon Nancarrow stuff out loud. OK, I'm going to say: definitely the most tolerant bunch of people to ever work in the collections department of a photocopier service provider.


(Photo courtesy Future Forms, where you can buy your very own version for $220, or approximately one hundred times what I paid in 1999.)

Anyhow, this led me to, which is basically a compendium of this era of weird toy organs. Delightful stuff, though I'm pretty shocked that somehow I have never been led to this site before?!

Monday, May 10, 2021

7" records in the 90s

Frequent readers of this blog (i.e. no one) will know that I'm kind of bleah on vinyl in general, particularly as a 2021 proposition. But it had its place in certain times, scenes, etc. One particular vinyl scene that I miss: The 7" record from the 90s.

  • Somewhere between 4-8 songs. 33 rpm.
  • Cheaply recorded and made - cover a photocopy/silkscreen/collage, label blank or one color at max
  • Only thing ever done by band (aside from maybe a tape or an appearance on a compilation)
  • Artifact sold at shows and in the occasional dollar bin.
  • Sneaky good
  • Preferably not listed on Discqogs or referenced anywhere on the Internet.

Oh, I love these! Maybe I should start a little series for these. Give them some airtime 25 years later.

Today I am looking at what appears to be the only thing ever done by Rosenthal (only appearance on Discqogs an appearance on some Yo-Yo compilation). Five songs, super haphazard 4-track recording quality, certain 90s cliches in effect (disaffected singing, lack of bass instrument) but a bit outside of time as well. 

Three dudes, first names only please, living room sound, address listed at a house next to the Triple Nickel on Belmont in Portland, 14 blocks away from where I would end up living a few years later, probably a $700K house at this point (!). I must have had some moment where they were at the same gross early-00s basement house party I was. Record label listed as being in Irvine, so I must have met someone when I was down there and somehow the record ended up in my possession? Who knows?!?!

Totally unassuming but also pretty good. The sort of thing that hides behind your speakers, but it doesn't look bad there. Pleasant if not catchy. Obscurity forever. I will take that as a virtue.

Friday, May 7, 2021

J.L. Carr / Stencil duplicators

J.L. Carr's A Month in the Country is a wonderful little book about pain and longing and summer and youth and the transformative power of work and great art, one that I think about a lot, but it's kind of a shame that none of the rest of his work is readily available, at least not through the library! I went digging a little deeper on Ye Olde Wikipedia and was delighted to discover that he had written and hand-mimeographed 82 copies of his book The Old Timers, a history of the people of Huron, South Dakota. I'm always a sucker for small-press histories of small towns (having grown up reading and rereading the history of my own), so it is pretty great to see this intersection of interests.

Let's rewind for a second: He hand-drew every image in the whole thing, ran the crank on the stencil duplicator, and handed them out as gifts to friends.

A perfect quote that encapsulates my feelings about stencil duplicators - I love them, but...

"About the drawings - with the exception of one or two early ones, there is no second-hand material, all were drawn on the cuff or on the hoof, and, later, put on the stencil by a ball-point pen which is a little better, but only a little better, than drawing with a club."

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Single Girl Married Girl / Scott Churchman / Right Back Where We Started From

I'm going through the archives of Philadelphia label Single Girl Married Girl. So far, very happy with the outcome. Nice to throw a dart at their catalog, throw a few virtual dollars in the mail, and have a box full of little beautiful cassettes show up in front of my door in a week or so, with old-school download links that exclude Bandqlamp entirely no less. Quality.

Their stuff is well curated - from the disembodied android weirdness of Actual Pearls (nice Mark Beyer album cover!) to bands with names like Your Children Is Beautiful (whose floaty feeling reminds me a bit of Disco Inferno minus the samplers) to Scott Churchman - see next paragraph.

Mr. Churchman's Ignore That Noise has been on heavy physical and mental rotation lately. Pick-to-click sad hit "Anna" begins inauspiciously with the line "nape of your neck" - for some reason I can't hear the word "nape" without hearing bad poetry - but it ends up going to some cool, dark, and surprising places. Bonus points for upright bass. I've also been enjoying his downer showtunes on No Ambition. He mentions that the four songs "seemed to just fall out of the sky on four consecutive days." The best songs are all written in 15 minutes anyway, right?

OK, I was going to throw in that reference to Maxine Nightingale's "Right Back Where We Started From" as a little joke (apparently it really was written in 15 minutes though), but I think the gold lamé waves (complete with shark fins) on this ridiculous TopPop set deserve their own entry:

Sorry for hijacking your blog entry, Single Girl Married Girl! Keep making great stuff!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Youth for Mondale

RIP Fritz Mondale. I wrote a song that was sort of about him back in the 90s.

In 1984 I was growing up in a town of fewer than 50 people in the upper Midwest, one state down from Walter Mondale's stomping grounds of Minnesota. Not many Democrats in that area even then, my family being among the few exceptions.

My 6th grade teacher had us make campaign signs for our preferred candidate. My classmates offered up zingers like "Vote for Reagan And You Will Be A Winner." I made one that said:
Q: How is Ronald Reagan like a chocolate-covered grasshopper?
A: Take off the candy coating and all you're left with is a minor nuisance.
Not so bad for a 6th grader, right? But it turns out people wanted candy.

I loved his honesty and his super-dry Midwestern wit. That time in 2002 when they asked him about the problem of his age, and he responded, "I've looked into it and there's not much I can do about it."

My 1984 Yamaha SBG200 guitar has a Mondale/Ferraro pin on the strap. Appropriate for the year, right? I will wear it proudly next time I actually have a chance to play in public.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mouth Painter - The Arkturus Suite

I heard Mouth Painter's entire Arkturus Suite (side A at least) on the lovely Backroad to Nowhere show on a while back. I always like it when radio deejays play 20-minute-long songs because it makes me think about when I was a college radio deejay and I pulled that kind of stuff all the time - maybe I had failed to plan enough music for my set? Maybe I was trying to finish reading something before a test? Maybe I was pitching woo or discussing the merits of some obscure band from New Zealand?

After hearing this and loving it, I ordered the tape off Bandqlamp and I'm pretty sure they hand delivered it to my door. Hyperlocal, then. It sounds like rain, as it should.

Pedal steel clouds, flute, delay, is that a musical saw? Timeframes and tonality shifting all over the place, not graspable at all but very pleasant. A good fit for the tape medium because any wow and flutter will only enhance the sound of the recording. I mean, my mid-life crisis garage-sale tape deck is pretty damn solid, but still, it's a tape deck. 

It is pretty easy to crap out floaty 20-minute instrumentals, but it is not easy to keep them compelling. This one keeps me coming back at weird moments.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Rose 4 Bohdan - What Heavy Metal Taught Us

There are several ways to figure out what to listen to. In descending order of Apollonian temperament:

  1. Voluntarily recall a song, or read about it somewhere, and deliberately find it, whether by searching through physical media or on a computer device.
  2. Notice a physical album object in a pile, stack, or other grouping, and voluntarily choose it.
  3. Have it suggested to you, either through some sort of algorithm or via shuffle
  4. Reach into a box full of unlabeled media (preferably cassettes without labels) and put the thing you grab into your tape deck

Today I'm going with #4. This approach naturally led to Rose 4 Bohdan's crazed early-aughts epic album Major Label Drugs. Of course. Lead Bohdan (disclaimer: I've known him for nearly half my life [!!!] and he's put out some of my stuff) Brian M. has always specialized in situations that were both highly friendly and yet somehow deeply weird. So this album naturally pinballs between endless inner-space drone epics, dudes singing about Snapple and boobs, and of course the best track, which I often find myself repeating:

What heavy metal taught us:
Heavy metal taught us how to speak German
and put it into a little song.
Just how tough Florida really is.

Repeat forever and digitally slice it up until it is scarcely recognizable. Great. 7 views on YouChoob - will you be the 8th?

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Charlie McAlister - I Haven't Any Sea Legs

Charlie McAlister's songs come up pretty frequently when I have my celestial jukebox on shuffle - probably because there are so many of them. And I haven't even digitized half of what I have.

Today a couple songs from I Haven't Any Sea Legs came up. What a great album, and what a generous one. His mid-90s tapes were janky little universes that I could carry around to temp jobs and get lost in while I did data entry. The work I'm doing now is a little higher-level and I can listen to music on some excellent speakers rather than half-broken cheapo headphones from Target, but the music is still great.

Miss that dude.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Bushwalking _No Enter_

I thought I'd take a moment to write about Bushwalking's outstanding No Enter album. I think I got fed this one as a recommendation by Rdio (sigh) back in the day after listening to lots of other stuff in the incestuous Australian scene, but this one hit home pretty hard and has stayed with me.

The cover has one single pensive downward-cast eye accompanied with aqua and orange eye shadow. Avoiding eye contact, just like I do.

Totally fierce medieval drone grooves, two female lead singers operating as a single titanic/Teutonic vocal and rhythm unit, dude guitarist splattering semi-tonal stuff on top with uncanny slapback like some sort of glass-shard frosting. Not a sound I've heard elsewhere, even in the postpunk genre that I guess this would fall into.

Album sequencing is pretty genius:
3 gripping relatively short songs
1 long dub-drone burner
3 gripping relatively short songs
1 unsettled song
1 totally unexpected acoustic song at the end - with flute no less

I listened to this one over and over again during the dark nights at the end of 2016, after that gross dude was elected here in the US but before he took office. The last few months before my boy was born. I would listen to this while riding my bike home from work, the calm cold dark all around me, the menacing drone from the freeway on my left echoing the drone from my little Bluetooth speaker. Occasionally I would come across someone who was walking or living on the bike path and there would be an awkward attempt to pause my speaker. As I approached my neighborhood, "Green Light" (the unsettled song) would play, and then as I rode through the potholed familiar dangerous streets of my neighborhood, the flutes of "Always Here" would guide me home. Several times the last few notes played just as I went to open the garage door.

The various players here continued on to do excellent things after this, but this one never really got the attention it deserved.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Endurance exercises

During the long Oregon winter I like to ride an exercise bike, especially now that I don't have an office job to commute to. And yes, I do have two exercise bikes, thanks for asking.

Usually I ride on the recumbent upstairs because it's pretty easy to veg out on that thing with a DualShock controller in my hand. And it turns out that really tedious gaming conventions - fetch quests, grinding, etc. - actually end up being a lot more tolerable as background activities for exercise. I recently played Ni No Kuni, which is just chock full of deliver-this-doohickey-to-this-person-in-another-city pointlessness, and it totally worked, just taking in the pretty virtual sights while going back and forth and back and forth looking for adorable electronic critters.

However, recently the cheap pedals on that thing gave out (the bearings were making unholy noises one room over from a sleeping preschooler, not an ideal situation) so I headed down to the spin bike in the garage. Not only is it a much more vigorous workout, but in the garage I only have an old CRT TV with a built-in VCR. Kind of nice to work my way through the backlog of VHS tapes that I haven't been able to get rid of.

Tonight's entertainment was R.E.M. Succumbs, which is almost exclusively made up of the members of said band being filmed on a Super8 while they artily tromp rockstar-style around various Georgian backwoods - the Howard Finster estate etc. I remember this being a bit of an endurance exercise even when I was younger, but put that together with actual endurance exercise and it was kind of next level. It made me long very much for the sort of life moment where I could just look at trains or weird old dogs without having to multi-task constantly or maximize precious down time. SIGH.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Ama hil zaigu

Do you like melancholy songs in Basque? I do.

Mikel Laboa's song from Bat Hiru, his wiry, singular epic:

Le Mans' version from the B-side of the "Un rayo de sol" single, at least in the 90s in America. Really great as well. I should do a fanboy post on how much I like the stuff that Ibon Errazkin and Teresa Iturrioz have done - Single are great and really underappreciated.



Monday, March 22, 2021


Life goal accomplished!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that is correct: 99 tracks, 61:40. (Please ignore the typo in the CD-TEXT.) What a ridiculous thing to want to do. But I did it.

I'll be doing some work to polish the final third of this album, the Theory Internal EP, which I think is particularly good, but I thought I'd put this up on the bloog in celebration.


Friday, March 5, 2021

Cosmonox update and more Norma

Just a reminder that the new Cosmonox album is available on Bandqlamp. It's awfully good if you like squeaky tape sounds, alien funk, noise, squelchy Casio sounds, found voices, or several of the above.

I keep listening to Norma Tanega. The difficult second album is available on YouChoob:

Her first album is such a breath of fresh air that it was a little hard to get myself situated in the dank pathways of the second one. Definitely more a product of its time, with the requisite guitar dude soloing over everything, songs that evoke Neil Y and Joni M. etc., but the deeper I get into it, the more the songs shine. Lots of autoharp in among the dude guitar sounds, which is a nice touch.

In some ways, it reminds me of Yoko Ono's Approximately Infinite Universe, which prompted the same eww-why-won't-that-guitar-player-shut-up feeling in me the first time I heard it. Eventually the strength of Yoko's songs finally blasted through its early-70s-yeahhh-man trappings and I learned to love it, wah-wahs and all.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Alphabetical order

I've been filing some CDs in boxes. I know, exciting, right?! I was delighted to find that my own Spirit Duplicator CDRs got to hang out right after Souled American and Spherical Objects in my collection. You could do a lot worse. S has a lot of good stuff.

Back when I was making music under the names Yak Brigade and Celesteville, I found myself displeased with the company I kept. Y has always been a weird backwater. I guess there's Young Marble Giants and Richard Youngs. Youth Brigade (DC), of course, and the Yips (Blue Flannel Bathrobe Butterfly is still pretty great). And C has a lot of chaff in between the must-haves (Camberwell Now, Can, Cannanes, Charalambides, Gal Costa).

I'm just about finished with the third installment of mini-CDRs. It's going to be called Theory Internal. Like all the others, songs are in alphabetical order (with a bit of poetic license here and there). It has been liberating to let the albums sequence themselves. I've changed a few song names to enhance album flow, which is OK - I think "Letters Removed" is a better song title than "Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap" anyway.

Weird comparison: If you ignore Canto I, the Divine Comedy is also three sets of 33 items. Currently deciding which of the EPs is the Inferno.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Quality diction

The internet winds recently blew me to an old Canadian show about computers that aired in the early 80s and which I clearly remember playing on Iowa Public Television in the day:

It is weirdly soothing. Part of it is the ASMR-level* microphones on the computer keyboards and cassette deck lids, but mostly it's Luba Goy's lilting voice. Here she is pronouncing "ROM pack" and "Atari" in the best way possible. Quality diction.

* My boy is obsessed with marble run videos on that video site, and there seems to be a lot of crossover between the marble world and the ASMR world. He ends up watching a lot of mind-meltingly tedious ASMR marble videos, but thankfully there are a few good ones out there that end up sounding like Harry Bertoia sculptures with a lot more clacking of small spheres. Someday you may know what I'm talking about.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Pinball/time signatures

One of the nice things about having a preschooler is that you can watch the Sesame Street "Pinball Number Count" without end. I love hearing my boy yell out numbers in highly dramatic voices. The best.

The other day on the way to daycare, we were listening to the aforementioned Pinball Number Count, and then he wanted to listen to "I Love Rock & Roll," which would just be a bump-bump-clap R&R vehicle were it not for that confounding little measure that's missing a beat, and then we went on to Norma Tanega, whose mind was not divisible by four in the slightest, and it dawned on me: I spent an entire half hour in a subcompact vehicle listening only to music in weird time signatures by female musicians. It felt good.

Friday, February 26, 2021

RIP Fryz

So a certain electronics chain shut down. When Tape Mountain was in full on CDR burning mode, many of its discs came from a certain aisle at the Fryz in Wilsonville. I'm contractually obligated to break out this chestnut:

NERD 1 (in lateral-lisp nerd voice): You can't get good media in Wilsonville.
NERD 2 (in nearly identical voice): Yeah, you gotta go to Beaverton to get good media.

My impression of these two CD-R enthusiasts still comes out every now and then and never fails to annoy the bejeezus out of my wife, mother, anyone else. It's even more horrible when my brother takes on the Nerd 2 role. Magical.

Other indelible Fryz memoriez:

  • Wanting electronics but feeling too poor to buy them (always)
  • Buying the world's most garish fake-iMac transparent blue plastic CRT monitor - it was horrible garbage and died about a year later
  • Having a sweaty salesman sell me a pretty good VCR in a space  that felt like it had never seen light, telling me that "Everyone knows Sony. Panasonic is kind of under the radar, so they have to try harder."
  • Back when the Wilsonville space was under the even-more-ludicrouz Incredibl Univerz, buying my first CD player (a never-quite satisfactory Magnavox - the price represented like an entire 40 hours of work, yikes...) so I could listen to promo CDs from the college radio station. Feeling like I had totally Sold Out by doing so. Listening to the one cutout bin CD that I owned (Eleventh Dream Day's Lived to Tell, which was kind of a snoozefest, but when it's the one CD you own..)


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Vampisoul dealz and small moments of delight

Spanish label Vampisoul, they who brought you the aforementioned Elia y Elizabeth reissues (so good), is currently selling a bunch of their old CD stock for cheap, even with postage from Madrid. Lots of great vintage Peruvian, Colombian, African stuff, all lovingly preserved and presented, with ample liner notes in many cases. And there's a CD with a goat playing the congas on the cover that makes my son crack up. I spent double figures including lightning-fast international shipping** and ended up with a gluttonous feast of digital wonder on my doorstep.

One of the deeply groovy CDs* from the Peruvian pack had a feature that I appreciated:

Why yes, that IS an inner sleeve with rounded edges. Is there any need for an inner sleeve at all in a CD case, much less one with rounded edges? Not at all, but it's a nice detail and ups the verisimilitude factor for us cheapskates who like obsolete perfect sound objects instead of cruddy warped half-ass modern vinyls at ten times the price.

One more small delight and then I'll stop: Getting packages sent from abroad! Yesterday I got a box full of Hario V60 02 coffee filters straight from Japan. The packages are delightful (photo swiped from

It is great to see the phrases "Flexible coffee style!" and "Why cone shape?" every morning. On top of that, the box was filled out with a Japanese newspaper, so I got to look at the stock page, a picture of Hello Kitty advertising something, more ads, lots of things to explain to the boy.

*Does "groovy" work as a dad joke about CDs? OK, how about "so pitted"? Wait, what year is this anyway?

**It is sad that at this point, international shipping is probably faster than shipping from the next ZIP code over. Mandatory political reference: That gross dude aimed for full-on fascism but forgot the bit about making the trains run on time?!