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!