Classic New Zealand band plays what might be the ultimate climate change anthem if you listen to it just right:
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
Thursday, May 27, 2021
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
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.
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:
MP3s FOR CAR USE
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
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
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 miniorgan.com, 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
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.
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'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
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
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
I heard Mouth Painter's entire Arkturus Suite (side A at least) on the lovely Backroad to Nowhere show on Xray.fm 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
There are several ways to figure out what to listen to. In descending order of Apollonian temperament:
- Voluntarily recall a song, or read about it somewhere, and deliberately find it, whether by searching through physical media or on a computer device.
- Notice a physical album object in a pile, stack, or other grouping, and voluntarily choose it.
- Have it suggested to you, either through some sort of algorithm or via shuffle
- 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'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
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
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
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!!!!!!!!!!
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
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
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
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:
* 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
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
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
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 sincere.coffee):
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?!
Monday, February 22, 2021
The great Polkadon DB brings us another Ukrainian-Canadian polka gem in "Auction Polka":
As with a lot of the stuff on this YouTube channel, zero information anywhere on the internet about this stuff. I admire that, but there must be more information... OK, on to Dizqogs, dig a little deeper - whoa, how did I not know about Leroy Van Dyke's "Auctioneer"?
OK, maybe I've heard this before? Or maybe someone riffed on this? In any case, I am delighted that he apparently turned this schtick into a career, even a movie called "What Am I Bid?" in which he earned top billing as "The World's Most Famous Auctioneer."
Thank you, internet - what a world.
The new album from the all-magnetic four-track/Language Master duo featuring yours truly. Six tracks of appropriately weird space/navel exploration furniture music. Super grotty but also super glossy.
If you would like a copy, let me know. The link above leads to Bandqlamp, but hardcopy versions are available if you appreciate having a really slick looking compact disc in your hand. I'm already planning on sending them out to certain people to whom I owe copies of Metal Remorse and Duplex Cremes.
Speaking of which, I'm three songs away from being done with The Project. A 99-track CD will soon be bouncing off the walls of my CD player, and possibly yours as well?
Thursday, January 14, 2021
After going down the Francisca Griffin rabbit hole a little while back, I remembered that she had a track (as Kathy Bull) on the Flying Nun compilation Shrew'd back in the day. I had never actually bought that CD - Flying Nun CDs were expensive in the 90s and blank tapes were relatively cheap - but then I checked and someone had it on bleebay for pretty cheap.
It's great. I think everyone from Look Blue Go Purple appears in some way or another, so in addition to basically being the fourth Look Blue Go Purple album (sort of like the fourth season of Arrested Development where they were never in the same room at the same time?), there are some pretty great rarities:
- Sooty and Sweep (who overlapped with the much fiercer Queen Meanie Puss)
- Alice Bulmer (great, well-written song that sounds like a better version of Dribbling Darts, for whom she played violin)
- Piki Riwai, who were three women with Anglo/Nordic names who sang in Maori. I would love to hear more of their gentle lilting music, since it's such a weird and great cul-de-sac, but Dwiskwogs only lists one unobtainium two-song tape for which some Austrian maniac is asking an insane four figures (!!!)
I mentioned in my previous post that I was interested in upgrading my turntable cartridge/needle situation. Someone on bleebay was selling some NOS Audio-Technica cartridges - holy moley! Night and day! The curtain has been lifted! The problem with having a job and working from home in the middle of a pandemic is that I find reasons to spend money on stuff like this...
...since for years I was OK with this piece of absolute garbage, which ruined probably half the records in the Washington County library system as well as any tapes that I made from those records. Man, the low quality vibes just leap off that picture. I can feel how wobbly and insubstantial that "FUNCTION" knob is, the jiggly and unnecessarily duplicated sliders above it, the tape control buttons that don't quite line up. Sigh. That said, pretty sweet A and B indicators for the tape deck.