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!