Thursday, May 26, 2022

Rebe "Marisol"


I didn't sleep well the other night and so I sleepwalked through yesterday listening to this crazy song over and over again. Somehow it made sense.

Sales pitches: "Guy Maddin directing a hard 'R' live-action Bratz remake"
"An AI trained on Jan Svankmajer and scrambled late-night Skinemax"

Needless to say, great, and also something that I'm a little embarrassed to watch.

Past stuff of hers has had the same Lisa Frank in a funhouse mirror vibe - her aesthetic appears to be completely consistent - but this is the next level.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ibon Errazkin/Foto aérea

Currently rocking Ibon Errazkin's delightful album Foto Aérea. I would use the word "lapidary" because that's a word that quality reviews use to describe things that are jewel-like, poem-like, and since this is a quality blog post, "lapidary" is the word I am going to use.

Guitars, probably sampled, that swoop in and out and around pianos, also probably sampled. The album has its own internal language. Some of the songs sound similar as a result - as aerial photographs often do - variations on a theme.

Speaking of its own internal language, the video for the title track is another jewel, a deadpan little poem that states and restates:

Elefant Records' Bandcamp claims that they have one copy left as of 5/24/22, so hurry! Or the streaming services will set you up. I checked my LP and I have copy 292 out of 300. Artificial scarcity - lapidary.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Happy birthday J.L. Carr

Happy 110th birthday to Joseph Lloyd Carr, whose novella A Month in the Country ranks pretty high on my list. You are encouraged to go grab a copy at your local library and, if is to be believed, emerge two hours and fourteen minutes later a better person. There are still ten hours in the day here in the Pacific time zone. You can do it.

I'm also slowly making my way through the rest of his oeuvre, which is much crazier and also much harder to find, but also delightful in its own way. And if you don't like reading, you can spend some time looking at his delightful county maps.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Albums I've owned multiple times

Physical media, hmm. It gets lost sometimes. You throw a tape in the back of your 1996 Geo Metro and it never returns. It gets digested. You make the choice to move back to Oregon after a calamitous end to your California Experience and the US Postal Service mislays a chunk of your alphabetized records, your rushed and inadequate packing job resulting in Bugskull records being scattered all over the floor of some whirring monster warehouse somewhere.

I owned the Bruces' Hialeah Pink on vinyl Back In The Day and it was part of the Bs that didn't make it in the 2000 US Postal disaster. Later, I bought it on the much smaller compact disk format. It's still with me and ready to console me in dark times just like it did on those 3:30-6:00 a.m. radio shifts back in eucalyptus-scented California. Nearly thirty years later, the flaws in the lyrics are a little distracting, but the fidelity and feel are completely great. I have an instinctual dislike for albums being priced at the default $7 on Bandqlamp, but in retrospect I would totally pay $3.69 in 1995 dollars for this album and its bonus tracks.

I think I've owned at least three versions of Sauvie Island Moon Rocket Factory's Mudpuddle Park, one self-released, one on short-lived Red76 Records (bought on steep discount at Ozone Records' going-out-of-business sale, sigh!), one on Italian tape label Best Kept Secret, who put out Minmae's dark-night-of-the-soul A Record About Us, and hello to Alessandro and Dave K and Sean if the Internet ever brings any of you to this page, and anyway, these songs will always still be clattering around in my head, long after its creator and its hyper-specific Portland-area geographic references (12th 'n' Sandy 'n' Burnside) have scattered off to wherever it is things go.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

"Sending out a frequency that'll hail the aliens" (or "distract the rest of the family")

I had forgotten about this panel from the inside flap of my 1994 tape Flavor House:

There are times I miss the Gretsch Corvette/Fender Champ combo I had in 1994, but "anemic" was not an incorrect word for that thing's pickups. That said, my current Yamaha SBG200's pickups are also anemic and I love them for it. Hmm...

Monday, May 2, 2022

All hail the dollar bin

I took a little detour on my bike ride yesterday and stopped at a certain record store. Man, used record stores in 2022 - weird scene! I didn't find much when I was flipping through the exorbitantly priced and largely uninteresting bins at shoulder height --

and then I crouched down to the dollar bins at my feet, and all of a sudden things got more interesting. For one, I have a lifetime of knowing which records I don't need to linger on, so processing them is very quick. And I feel like the rate of hits for me was higher - I found Elton Britt, Conlon Nancarrow (!!!), Big Dipper, Queen Ida, etc. I mean, nothing mind-blowing (Mr. Nancarrow aside), but solid things to put on and make the day better. I spent $6 (didn't want to overload my bike bags, which were already full of library books) and left feeling a little better.

Which begs the question: How much of my musical taste is based on a lifetime of trawling the dollar bins?

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Raunchy Young Lepers _Songs for People with NO Attention Spans_

Thank goodness the Raunchy Young Lepers never actually existed, but if they had ever existed, their 63-track tape Songs for People with NO Attention Spans would have been really good, in that really terrible way. Not that I am listening to it or anything. Thank goodness the internet doesn't hold on to things like that.

I think my Duplex Cremes / Metal Remorse / Theory Internal 99-track CD might ultimately be a tribute to that album. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Erica Eso, moving on from old techniques

 Erica Eso have a new album coming up soon; in the grand tradition of their albums, the title contains a 1, a 2, and a 9. The first couple singles seemed very... conventional compared to some of their earlier microtonal works, but this one and its wild video sold me:

After having this song blast through my head for 48 hours straight or so, I realized that I was probably judging them unfairly. Their earlier microtonal jams like "Pink Atlantic" were super weird and satisfying in their own way, but I kept holding them to that particular sound forever:

Is it a good sound? Of course, the author says (clutching the copy of New Music in Quarter Tones that he has carted around from rental house to rental house for the past several decades), but it's not the only sound. And now that the xenharmonic floodgates are open, anyone with a Korg or a computer and the desire to navigate menus can destroy the tyranny of equal temperament! So the new challenge is polyphonic off-center funk. Let's go. 

And as someone who has long stuck with a particular gimmick (that dumb screeching tape language machine) and who has seen people look puzzled when I attempted to play an actual instrument, I understand where they're coming from. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Justin Tubb

This morning I got to listening to Justin Tubb. Definitely an underappreciated songwriter and singer whose niche ("heartbroken high-concept novelty country songs") was never really a ticket to stardom, especially given that his famous father's work was considerably simpler. Ernest Tubb's "Thanks a Lot" reads at a Dick and Jane level (not a criticism!) Those kind of expectations can be killer.

 "One for You, One for Me" is what Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would look like as a country song 35 years early. The fidelity on this YouChoob video is pretty bad, but there's some authenticity there, I guess:

The blue, blue cover of Where You're Concerned is not just for show - this one is nonstop high-concept novelty gloom, even the bouncy numbers like "Little Miss Lonesome." "Take a Letter, Miss Gray" takes the songs-of-lovin'-cheatin'-and-movin'-on category to new weird epistolary heights:  

And while his singing was fine, Timi Yuro's version of his "When You Were Mine" really takes things to the next level. So over the top.

Friday, April 1, 2022

OMG actual live Cosmonox show

My first live show in two years!!!!!!!

Cosmonox plays at No Fun 1709 SE Hawthorne Portland OR 97214
Sat 4/2/22 - we go on first at 8 

I'll be playing the Language Master and melodica - no Casio CZ-101 this time, sorry
Jason will be playing his new digital dub setup instead of his 4-track - it is totally dialed in
Trippy light show included

We'll have the "new" CD Osmono that we would have been pushing two years ago, but some things happened

Fancy sandwiches will be available

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Boo Hiss

There will always be a place in my heart for woozy wobbly samples falling apart sounds like this. Todd D. has been slinging 1s and 0s since Tape Mountain's blaze-of-incompetence years and his craft just keeps getting more and more refined. 

True facts about the Blogggder/YouChoob interface:
(1) Weird poetry in the search results for boo hiss sloppy on paper:
(2) After listening to this, the YouChoob algorithm automatically decided that I wanted to listen to Orange Juice's "Rip It Up" and a lot of songs from Nico's Desertshore. If you combine those two, shake things up, and squint your eyes, it's not the worst comparison.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Laser Floyd for Kids

No hits on Gwoogoo for "Laser Floyd for Kids"? OK, let's make one.

Monday, March 21, 2022

David Tholfsen

So David Tholfsen! His work with U.S. Saucer in the early 90s, both on record and live the one time I got to see them, was transcendent, totally singular. Their show at my fancy-pantsy college is still on my list of favorite live shows ever. I need to find that tape and upload it somewhere.

Mr. Tholfsen has a new album called Walk with Me which is apparently all songs he made up while walking, to be listened to while walking. His voice is a strong flavor, and the first taste, even for the initiated, is like, what on earth! And then you get used to it, like the water at a hot spring. Is this the activity music I need? It may be the activity music I need.

His lyrical skills have not diminished in the ensuing decades:
Din Plod knee Thrust 
Him Tod please must 
Win nod free crust 
Bin sod cheese dust

I have no idea how he is going to make this work live without cloning himself, but apparently he will be playing in Portland on April 9th at Turn! Turn! Turn! I must be there.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Jeanines, "Any Day Now," mind muck

The debut Jeanines album got a lot of play around this house. For one thing, its (short) length was pretty much the exact length of the drive from my mom's place to my own, so on days when she was watching the boy while I got some work done, I would often drive home with that CD in my car. The boy would fall asleep somewhere around "In This House," and then he'd always wake up when "Wake Up" played as I turned onto the bumpy Clackamas County streets near my house, and I'd curse my luck. Anyway:

They have a new album coming up soon. Their new single and its super-minimal video are kind of perfect:

although the title has the good-and-bad side effect of unsticking Ronnie Milsap's version of the song of the same name from deep in the muck of my childhood mind. Man, that dude was just like some sort of golden god on rural Iowa radio in the early 80s. They must have just played his five hits on a loop or something, occasionally throwing in some minor artist like Michael Jackson for good measure.

I suspect Mr. Milsap's work (side note: I did not realize he was blind?!) was far from the mind of the Jeanines braintrust when they wrote it, the lead singer being from New York and probably not having been born at that point?! That said, anything that ends up eventually getting "I Wouldn't Have Missed It for the World" stuck in my head is not such a bad thing.


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Saccharine Trust/Flying Saucer

In a certain year beginning with "19" I was a freshman in college, amazed by everything, terrified of everything. 

I'd been reading the Trouser Press Record Guide obsessively in high school. Then I got to the campus radio station and suddenly everything in that book - every distant dream - was as close as the PLAY and RECORD buttons on my tape deck, so long as I could keep myself supplied with blank cassettes.

I remember listening to Saccharine Trust's Surviving You, Always, amazed, terrified. The first line on the record, "Circumcise me!!!!" Hard to think of a more amazing or terrifying first line on a record. Sitting listening to it on headphones in my triple dorm room, trying to make sense of it musically and theologically, never really being able to do so. Always skipping the Doors cover at the end, yuk! 

Endless little records scattered all around, some so obscure that you could see them trying to hide in the stacks when you approached. Somehow going through Dwisqogs recently I rediscovered this one:

Memorable album cover, right? At the time, I remember thinking, this is pleasant but also thoroughly minor, and I forgot about it. Now I'm listening to it again and thinking, this is pleasant and also thoroughly minor, and that may in fact be a virtue. Now for some reason I have two copies of it headed to my mailbox.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Maestro, or "Old Man Yells at Effects Pedals"


Today I was messing around with my Maestro Ring Modulator, a gift from C.A. upon my college graduation that I never expected and that has literally changed my life, probably for the better, and I realized that it is one of the few things that has been with me ever since college. The thing and I are basically blood brothers at this point. The new album that I'm working on has prominent ring modulator on every track. Let's alienate everybody!

Then I was poking around my RSS reader and a certain pedal blog alerted me that Gibson has relaunched the Maestro brand. The logo alone causes certain Pavlovian responses in your humble servant:

 That logo is etched into me. Not literally, but just seeing that makes me delighted. And then I see this:

What on earth! They jewel-toned and three-deed my precious logo? Added some sort of PETSCII vomit on the top, plus the knobs from the Maestro era I don't like as much, and then some sort of random logo in the corner?! How many decades of design are we attempting to cram together?!!! Plus these look like everything else on the market anyway?!!!!!!

Oh dear Maestro, all you need to do is make good clean small modern versions of your old classics and people like me will fall all over themselves to throw money at you. I don't even like buying effects pedals at this point, but I would totally consider buying, say, a smaller version of the PS-1, or a ring modulator to be a stand-in for my 50-year-old model. I'm not super poor at this point and I would be glad to replace my swap-meet things that never quite worked right!

The one thing you think they could not mess up is a T-shirt, but they did that dumb thing where they put a little logo on the front and a big logo on the back. Does anyone even like that?

Covoover Troix/Cœur-joie/Lid

Day six or seven of isolation time. Losing it a little, but feeling better aside from a few coughs. Getting stuff done. What else to do? Tempted to clean my office- CRAZY THOUGHT. 

 This song by Cœur-joie totally rocking through my head the last couple days or so:  

I love the lumpy bass, the irregular phrasing, the ploinky guitar, the way the strings threaten to destroy everything in the middle. The gorgeous video also resonates pretty hard these days, with my wife and I temporarily assigned to separate rooms, not so different from the protagonists' weird little dance in adjoining decaying bathroom stalls. Anyway, super-limited cassette still available from very nice French label Hidden Bay, or there's also a CD at higher cost from a different French label.

I knew the song reminded me of something - another song with lumpy bass, irregular phrasing, ploinky guitar - wait! That's it! One of my eternal favorites from the 90s that I don't think I actually discovered until the 00s, now forever clattering around in compromised fidelity on the YouChoob, lopsided and entrancing, Lid's "Hit the Silk."

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Covoover Deux/Leya

Today I worked a lot. Tried to dig my way out. Regretted some life choices made or not made. Coughed and ached.

I took an isolation drive. 82nd Avenue just after twilight. Phantoms at the bus stops. Library parking lot. Books about pigeons from the self-serve kiosk.

Windows open. Cold February air. Leya's Flood DreamCompact disc gleaming in the high beams. Microtonal harp. Regret sliced thin.

I thought about the time I was late for the microtonal festival because I was hanging out with the noise dudes. How life might have been different if I had been on time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Covoover days

If you remember a couple posts ago, I mentioned my kid's daycare shutting down due to a covoover outbreak. Well, the inevitable happened and I, too, got the covoooover. Nothing too bad aside from a cough - I'm vacksnayed and boooorsted - but one more level of complicated. Trying to restrict myself to a small portion of the house so I don't infect my wife, who tested negative. Complicated. Doing a real Leviticus 13:45-46 deal at the moment: 

45 The person who has the leprous disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head be disheveled; and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

The torn clothing and disheveled hair aren't a problem - that's pretty much my usual appearance - but the dwelling outside the camp thing is a real pain in our little infill house in Portland in February.

On the bright side, we got a new record player for the living room right before it all went down, so my childcareless boy is listening to our 45 of "Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)" like ten times a day. Now when he dances, he kind of looks like a spazzy junior Charlie Wilson. NOT COMPLAINING.

Also watching library DVDs of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. One of the joys of having a small child is having an excuse to watch this show, and to watch your child watching this show.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Sex Clark Five

Sex Clark Five have a new single that is supposedly today-only (Feb. 14), so before reading further, go check it out. Toes will tap.

These guys. That band name is so ridiculous* and yet they have been rocking it for like three decades. Their songs just keep getting more dense and self-referential and theory-internal and that's the way they like it. Strum and Drum! is pretty much a classic, but their subsequent albums all have a lot to recommend them as well. Battle of Sex Clark Five has "Accelerator," which would be in the running for my walk-on music if I were a pro wrestler/baseball player/spelling bee contestant. Antedium is pretty much pedal to the metal throughout and has the great hit "Fool I Was" (nice use of topicalization). The Orange Album shows that they are unstoppable this many decades later.

I also appreciate their Bandqlamp-free approach to e-qommerce. Increasingly rare. But they make it work. I don't know. Bandqlamp just feels like it has sucked the heart out of DIY in some ways and replaced it with a monoculture. As the classic Blackbean & Placenta Tape Club flyer put it, "this is not fake DIY this is the real fucking thing." Long may it etc.

* Your author in his taut and prudish youth automatically rejected the SC5 single that they had at his college radio station. Like, what good could ever come from that name. His loss. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Oooooomicron-era exhaustion and Able Tasmans

So kiddo's daycare is closed due to the coooooovid (somehow they made it this far) until next Friday at the earliest. And now he's positive. Fine, and a very recent recipient of shot #2, but positive. Ugh. Meanwhile, I have to do horrific wizard-level surgery on a bunch of Word files for my job and there are literally over a thousand of them and they never stop, even when a very sweet sick child asks me to play the game where I pretend to be opening a package and the package contains a little boy.


Somewhere between shuffle play on YouChoob Moosic and my own memory, I ended up on Able Tasmans' "School Is No Good for You," and the gorgeously melancholy final portion hit me right when I finished a particularly gnarly file in a particularly squiggly language:

I wish I knew exactly what the lyrics say.  The Internet is not helpful. I think I own the CD somewhere, but it was a bad era for indie releases printing lyrics...

Thursday, February 3, 2022

No Frills and the educational psychedelia aesthetic

I've noticed more and more of the Educational Psychedelia aesthetic bumping around the internet etc. and I'm delighted. It's one of those cyclical things that I love, like when striped T-shirts make their way to the clearance rack at mall stores. As a Gen Xer, edu-psych is total catnip comfort food. By way of example, this book from my collection:

Toronto band No Frills are doing their best to ingratiate themselves to me with their delightful videos and sneaky bouncy pop music. They should be huge if there is any justice in this world, but I'm content to have them just keep targeting the things that I like. Their newest, "Copy Cat," crosses the edu-psych aesthetic with Simpsons-psych and just keeps getting weirder and weirder and better and better:

Their previous video, "Drip," gets bonus points for featuring a singing hand puppet. Hand puppets played large and weird roles in a couple of my ill-advised romantic fiascos a couple decades ago, but performances like this turtle's make me feel like I am ready to forgive:

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

"Heavy acid rock"

I had a temp job once in HR at a certain local community college. It was pretty good. I made databases and hounded phys ed and mortuary science instructors for their credentials. 

I got into a conversation with the very sweet department receptionist once. She was older.
Somehow we ended up discussing what music we liked. She said she liked "everything except heavy acid rock." So specific! Usually people just say they don't like rap and country!

Today I am listening to Monoshock's magnificent and horrifying heavy acid rock double album opus Walk into the Fire and wondering what that receptionist is up to now. Trying to remember what her name was. My current job is 100% crazy and it feels 100% right to listen to this shrieking horror in its entirety.