Those of you who have had the distinct pleasure of receiving an actual physical Tape Mountain product in the past decade or so know how much I love dot matrix printers. I've got an ImageWriter II on my shelf and I've printed album covers on it from my Apple //c and, I think, my Macintosh Classic, from my high school and college years respectively.
Most of the millions of readers of this blog probably do not encounter dot matrix print on a regular basis, but I do, since at my job we get a lot of certificates from Cuba, which has continued to print official documents on dot matrix printers well into the 21st century. Sometimes you'll get a certificate where you can tell the functionary hasn't been able to reink the ribbon in a while:
Yes, it's that hard to read in the source. Hooray for "Sharpen More" in Photoshop.
People get really jazzed about the classic cars that continue to do everyday work in Cuba - where is the passion for the people who keep the dot matrix printers running????
So sad to hear that the world has lost Hamish Kilgour (of the Clean, Mad Scene, etc.) A great drummer - his spirit of lightness took the Clean's Vehicle to another level - and a very underrated singer/songwriter.
Currently listening to Boodle Boodle Boodle on 33 instead of 45. It sounds pretty good that way. My boy and I recently picked that one up on clearance from the deeply unlikely record store in someone's converted garage a couple blocks from my house:
I will always have a soft spot for the Mad Scene too. They never quite reached their potential on record, but the one time I saw them live - I think maybe at the same show where I saw Wimp Factor 14 in NYC at at CMJ sometime in the 90s? It was just Hamish and Lisa on twin electric guitars. Warm, peaceful, totally unassuming, totally underattended. I think there were green lights. I remember that Hamish was playing a Gretsch Corvette (also my guitar of choice at the time), and I struck up a small conversation (not my strong suit, especially then!). He dealt with my awkward fanboying with ease and recommended some other music for me to listen to. I walked out into the New York streets at night, completely out of the world.
Now I'm listening to the Mad Scene's Blip, which kind of appeared and disappeared in 2012 a la its title. Its carefree inconsequentiality is very pleasing. Of course they do their best work a decade and a half after everyone stops listening.
The blog Break Into Chat recently unearthed the unreleased game Nosh Kosh for the Apple II: a gobble-em-up game designed to teach kashrut food laws to the kidz. You earn points by eating carrots, meat, or dairy, but if you eat the meat, you need to wait 6 hours before eating the dairy! Also, you are pursued by lobsters, frogs, and swine.
If you eat the dairy within 6 hours after eating the meat, or if you collide with the unclean animals, your little Pac-Man utters a digitized "OY!"
Also, the splash screen features two Pac-Mans (Pac-Men?) wearing yarmulkes.
There's a link at the blog referenced above. Simple, but totally charming for a few minutes.
1) Episodes of Password Plus from 1979. Allen Ludden is a really good game show host - simultaneously totally smooth (his choice in eyewear is fantastic and his hair perfect) while also being warm and genuinely funny. The theme song is a pretty awesome flute strutter - searches on YouChoob for "password plus theme song" turn up the extended remix version that has a lot more wah-wah guitar, which is good, but the essence of the song is the flutes, flutes flutes flutes. Watch the episodes while you're washing the dishes. That's what I'm doing.
2) I finally found a brand of fake Ch**t*s that is as good or better than the actual name brand orange cheez curls. I think they might actually be upscale fake Ch**t*s (what a world), but when they filter down to my local expired-goods emporium, they are at a price point that cancels out the fact that they are a few months past their prime.
3) School bus mornings with a kindergartner are pretty brutal and don't allow for my usual semi-precise Ch*m*x fancy lad pour-over method, so I splurged and bought a fancypants M*cc*m*st*r coffee maker on Cr**gsl*st. I did not realize that the very nice lady who sold it to me was wearing a lot of perfume (masked transactions!), so the coffee maker bore that odor. Fortunately, over the course of a long weekend at home with a sick kindergartner, I allowed baking soda, vinegar, and time to do their work. Today the results were finally acceptable, so I drank more coffee than is reasonable, hence this long blog post.
Today I've been listening to Australian band Spice World's ingenious and ridiculous single "Dying to Go" quite a bit. Their excellent description:
a bright, careening guitar-pop daydream about listening to 'Spice Up Your Life' by Spice Girls and feeling inspired to fake your own death in an attempt to escape your life.
If I had ever voluntarily listened to the Spice Girls, this would probably be more resonant for me, but even without, I like this interpretation. The post-everything version of Sherwood Anderson's nervous breakdown?
Apparently they recorded the album in five hours, all live, the night before one of the members had to decamp for Melbourne, and all the better - the recordings are fresh and raw. The chord progression and timing are basically identical to "Boys Don't Cry" but since this song is already hermit-crabbing inside a different hit song, let's go with it.
The B side does what a B side should do - it reflects, curls up inside itself, is indirect, contrasts with the bright bleak sunshine of the A-side.
I guess they have a new single coming up tomorrow and an album coming up next year - will keep an eye on them.
I went through one of those moments the other day where I just wanted to listen to Las Grecas over and over again. "Te Estoy Amando Locamente" is a grade A jam and features super wild guitar and one of my favorite banging piano chords in all of pop music at the end of the intro (0:14-0:20):
Though really their stuff is best experienced in lurid 70s TV color, with every video effect available to human beings in Spain at the time:
If you listen to any of their songs too many times in a row, it will rearrange your brain, particularly if there are lurid psychedelic visuals involved. But their songs are fine minus visuals too, particularly the first couple albums or so. They're on the streamz in various compilations (Orígenes has pretty much everything you'd need). Go for it.
Today I was playing the tracks I've uploaded to YouChoob Myoozik on shuffle. In addition to multiple tracks from my various 33-track albums coming up, a track from The Sultan's Pleasure came up. Good stuff, right?
That made me think of the Gending Beksan^2 tape I dubbed off my high school orchestra teacher way back when. One of those mythical tapes that changed the way I listen to music, tonality, everything. I remember endless school bus rides from Tualatin to Tigard, rolling past ultrabland McMansions in adjoining neighborhoods, warbly third-hand dubs in my ears, constant rain outside always, everything seemed endless but it was over sooner than I expected.
I didn't see that particular tape on the internet (aside from my own personal mp3 collection), but Internet Archive does have 128 tapes in their Indonesian Cassette Archive, including several with titles indicating they might be just the right thing. OK, back in 72 hours or so!!!!!!!!
A client at work wanted us to mail a "computer disk." Does this mean a 3.5" floppy disk, I asked? Yes it does. I looked around my various clutter pits and found no 3.5 floppies that didn't say something like "Lost Treasures of Infocom" or "howtoremixroseforbohdan"*. I have lots of 5.25" floppies - so many of them - but no 3.5".
To the internet we go. I found a dude in Gladstone who had a couple boxes available. I considered biking over, but reconsidered, given the heavy wildfire smoke in the air. And given that I'm already buying emergency floppy disks in 2022, this experience was going to be weird enough as is.
The client also wanted some cassettes, so I'm high-speed dubbing recordings of government forms over some blanks that were initially meant to hold Tualatin Summer EPs. The plowshares we beat our swords into, indeed!
Also, I like the fact that, through the magic of high-speed tape dubbing, I'm hearing a Chipmunkified version of my coworker's voice just a couple days after ranting about the Chipmunks. I love how the universe works sometimes.
*I also love that Deathbomb Arc put out a 3.5" floppy back in the aughts, back when floppies were that annoying technology that wouldn't go away and that no one liked.
We went to the El Tigre festival in Tigard this weekend. It is pretty awesome that Tigard has become less lily-white* in the years since I graduated from Tigard High School, and even better to see the city celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with a festival. We ate pupusas and drank mangonadas in the sunshine. The boy asked for paletas a million times but then, by the time, we got to the front of the line, he changed his mind and got a raspado.
The musical lineup was a big factor. As climate change turns the Portland area into what is essentially Modesto with Douglas firs, actual Modesto combo Valley Wolf played a delightful set, including their woozy end-of-summer jam "Corazón." It was as good as I had hoped. We danced in the wildfire-smoke-filtered sunshine while thirsty bees drank the bubblegum-scented liquid from the raspado my kid spilled.
There's a charming video for you to watch:
*(Note: Tigard High's mascot is, indeed, the Tigers - shocker - but in my high school days I made a lot of jokes about how it should be the Lilies)
In my most recent post, I went on about Jimmy Salcedo y su Onda Tres's Vallenato
which takes that particular style of Colombian music and slathers it with disco Vaseline, with highly appealing results.
The more I listen to it, the more it has in common with its much squarer American cousin, Myron Floren's Disco Polka:
Notably, both TV music dudes who made at least one delightful and highly cheesy disco record that incorporated their particular local flavor into the tsunami of 4-on-the-floor disco that swept the universe in 1977 or 1978.
After listening to this stuff, YouChoob keeps telling me that I want to listen to Wire or Can or something, saying, come back from the dark side, but I'm doing all right over here, YouChoob. There's time for that stuff later.
Los Cripis, particularly the song "Restaurant": https://loscripis.bandcamp.com/track/restaurant
They come up in my shuffle play every so often and that makes me remember that I love them, and then I get the song "I'm Going to Buy Food" stuck in my head every time I go to the grocery store. They were a thing about a decade ago and now their songs are approaching the age of link death and bit rot, so I've been snapping their stuff up cheap before it becomes unobtainium.
Arthur Russell's "Iowa Dream": I like to play songs about riding bikes while riding my bike. This one is a song about his riding a bike in Iowa that could be my song about riding a bike in Iowa that I can listen to and think about riding a bike in youth Iowa while riding a bike in adulthood Oregon. Also, nice to hear Mr. Russell in garage-pop form.
The Raincoats' "Animal Rhapsody": I never quite got Moving despite being way way into their first two albums, but I recently checked out the book about the Raincoats' 1st album from the library and that helped me dig deeper. I still don't understand why the 90s reissue of Moving left off so many of the songs - hearing the songs they left off, I think I would have liked it better with those songs included? Anyway, disco-fied synth bass Raincoats with horns is a good idea:
Speaking of disco: I was reading about Elia y Elizabeth and realized I'd never checked out Jimmy Salcedo's stuff. I found a bunch of stuff. I asked my Colombian coworker if she was familiar, and she immediately said, oh, El Show de Jimmy! So this rabbit hole goes pretty deep. Vampisoul, bless their hearts, is putting out a retrospective next month. This album is almost certainly post prime, but it is pretty bumping nevertheless:
I bought the cheapest copy available on Dwisqwogz (three bucks). Oh yeah.
During a recent child-free visit to the Tualatin Public Library (thanks Grandma) I was scanning their CD collection. Under "World Music" there was a CD called "Deeper Polka" from Smithsonian Folkways. OK, challenge accepted! Anyway, it was pretty good, and it led me to believe there might be a CD called "Deep Polka," which there is, and now when I listen to my YouChoob Muzik library on shuffle, every so often I get a visit from Norm Dombrowski's Happy Notes or the Clete Bellin Orchestra.
That aspect of physical music discovery is so important to me. The various algorithms tracking me always underestimate my desire to listen to polka and overestimate my desire to listen to stuff that, I guess, it's OK? Currently they think I want to listen to *lv*s C*st*ll* because I played one of his songs on YouChoob (memo to self: stick to physical media, dude's like an algorithm virus) and the Motels' "Only the Lonely," probably because I listened to Men at Work's "Overkill" from my cheese mix. I guess those two push the same emotional/stylistic/chronological buttons? Yeah, I guess that tracks.
Anyhow, if you have a desire to listen to nonstop polka 24/7, the Polka Jammer Network continues to jam the polkas 24/7. I hadn't checked them out in a while but was delighted to see that they are still cranking. Long may they jam.
A bad good idea would be something like, let's encourage tapioca pudding consumption as a means to ensuring world peace. Not that I ever wrote a song about that in my youth or anything. When you're sixteen you are chock full of bad good ideas.
A good bad idea would be, hmm, it's like a 100 degree day in Portland and our friend is visiting from Toronto, so let's close all the windows and record an extremely loose EP of Buck Owens covers on the boombox. Let's drag out "Dust on Mother's Bible" into a woozy 7 minute space jam with said friend playing just enough on the bass and my dear wife tapping out the faintest of rhythms on the bucket and mixing bowl, let the delay self-oscillation compete with the cassette noise to see what wins.
It's not a good idea - a good idea would have been to head to the river or play in the sprinkler - but a good bad idea is often more memorable than a vanilla good idea.
In the mid-90s I headed away from my East Coast fancypants college and headed down to Southern California to go to grad school, where of course I immediately distracted myself by throwing myself headlong into a new college radio station. In an attempt to be King College Radio Shit, I got more and more invested in being cooler than thou, into weirder, more abrasive, longer, more annoying stuff. Not my proudest moment perhaps, but maybe it needed to happen? Maybe I needed to pump myself up so I could later get seriously humbled?
Anyway, somewhere in that weird era, it sounds like Lida Husik (referenced previously here) also headed down to the Southland and made her poppiest album ever, Fly Stereophonic. It had dancing cartoon food on the cover and some truly dreadful 90s typography and so I guess I just ignored it. I was too cool for school and I was probably falling asleep on the highway to albums by Pork Queen or Surface of the Earth or the Shadow Ring or something. Turns out that of course it's delightful, as were her other albums from the mid-90s with bad album covers that came out on labels that were kinda mainstream cool, but not like Corpus Hermeticum cool.
I could have been that guy on late-90s Southern California freeways with his Geo Metro windows down and the tape player eating his dub of Fly Stereophonic while I headed off to eat a masala dosa. It would have been all right.
Roger Shepherd's Man on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdownblog on the Flying Nun site is always a delight and a chance to reevaluate some not-quite-A-list bands from the Flying Nun heyday. Today I went down the Doublehappys rabbit hole. Not necessarily my favorite band in the stable, and there's an underlying current of tragedy that's hard to take, but the video for "Needles and Plastic" can't be denied:
Fun, right? So much youthful energy. I love the idea of cramming ten people into a small room and having Chris Knox direct people below camera level to grab things, throw beach balls, give thumbs-up, have Shayne Carter jump off some undefined object and give the camera the world's best shit-eating yeah-I-did-that grin after sticking the landing. Stage jumps aren't easy, you know, although somehow I, with my incredibly low dexterity score, was able to pull them off on a few peak-experience occasions.
And after 2.5 years of not being crammed in small rooms with people, this video seems even more fun, totally awesome, forbidden.
I like the fact that the title of the 19th song on my album Theory Internalappears to be the only hit for that particular phrase on the Gwoogwoo, despite it being an intentionally awkward rephrasing of a super famous Bible verse. Seriously, internet?
My boy went off to kindergarten today and the sky has the weird bleakness of sudden Oregon autumn muscling its way past bleak Oregon Fire Sky September. Whiplash-inducing.
For some reason I thought of Flipper's "You Nought Me" this morning and queued up Gone Fishin'. Good stuff, as good now as it was when I spent a princely $6 on a used copy in, hmm, maybe Ardmore, PA, back in 1991 or so?
Things I didn't really register back then: (1) Fretless bass all over the place (2) On "One By One," Ted Falconi is "holding it down" with honest-to-goodness guitar chords (albeit way out of tune) and (presumably) Will Shatter is the one going berserk, in a reversal of basically every other Flipper song (3) Some day I would be called on to perform "Sacrifice" by memory on a half-guitar-half-bass chimera in a vegan eatery in Olympia, WA while playing along with a band with a zombie trombonist and a toy piano that was touring in a converted ambulance. I was in place of the Necro-Sluts, who may or may not have ever existed. I was able to conjure up the bass line correctly (or so I believed) despite not having heard the song in ages at that point, although there was some controversy at the time about the accuracy of my playing. A couple days later I'd be eating food out of dumpsters and dodging Bud Light bottles in Bellingham while chanting "you suck" along with the audience. YOUTH!
I think I've talked about the magic film container full of 45s that I got from my uncle as a kid, right? One of the 45s in that batch was Wilson Pickett's "Call My Name, I'll Be There." Good song - I instantly liked it, and have returned to it over the years. Realizations I made over the years, by decade:
Late childhood: Wait, the background singers are literally singing W-I-L-S-O-N-P-I-C-K-E-T-T. Total vanity but kind of awesome at the same time! Early adulthood: This "Blue Box" pedal that I bought in a clearance bin and fell in love with is totally the pedal from "Call My Name, I'll Be There"
Middle age: Watches the documentary Muscle Shoals, realizes that this is 100% the Swampers
Anyway, the album it comes from, Don't Knock My Love, is kind of post-prime for all concerned, and is he wearing a jumpsuit tuxedo and posing in front of a Rolls on the cover? But everyone is having a good time, particularly on "Don't Knock My Love--Part 2", where you suspect the band was riffing out so hard that they had to keep going. Or they had to write a B-side. Either way, it turns a tough rock song into a spy movie theme and it totally works. Love it, particularly when it cross-fades into "Call My Name, I'll Be There." The album is super cheap everywhere and, as stated previously: Jumpsuit tuxedo. Rolls.
I think I finally get the 13th Floor Elevators. Digging Easter Everywhere as a desperate late-summer jam. Not sure if I love the rest of their oeuvre but I'll probably get there.
Today I dropped the boy off at daycare (just a few more days) and stopped by the office to handle some tedious in-person tasks. On the way out I was blasting "Slip Inside This House" with the windows open in my subcompact, and a minivan passed me with ITS windows open playing "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". It was a little eerie. Same key, same tempo. Totally could be a geezer-rock mashup. It was a moment. I wonder if the minivan driver also felt it.
I drove past the Russian bakery and the dispensary and the subsidized housing and headed onto the freeway home in that eerie late-August light.
It's hot and the sun is a big malevolent lemon sucker in the sky and so naturally my computer-assisted brain decided that I wanted to watch Vainica Doble's "Caramelo de Limón" several dozen times in a row:
Vainica Doble are great. I wish more televideos existed for their stuff, particularly the stuff on "Heliotropo."
Somehow I forgot to turn off YouChoob's "Play stuff that is somehow vaguely algorithmically related to this thing" and I ended up going down a Romance-language early-70s TV music rabbit hole. It ended up here:
which is at some unthinkable WTF intersection between unspeakably cheesy and kind of hottt. Nothing really makes sense right now, so let's just go with it.
My job sometimes requires me to do weird things, weird boring things. In this case, I needed to record a cassette tape to send to someone on behalf of the state.
You'd think that "Tape Mountain" would mean I would have a cassette deck that actually records, but ha! ha! that's thoroughly incorrect. Instead, I have a bunch of tape decks with snapped belts that have turned to goo, or a sweet midlife crisis garage-sale Nakamichi that, by the way, doesn't record. Ordinarily not a big deal, but today it was!
So I dug Ye Olde Tascamme Porta Twoee out of the garage and connected a bunch of unlikely cables, and - lo and beholdde - it works! I'm shocked but delighted.
Does this mean I'm going to release music on cassette? NO!!!!! NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!! What a pain in the asssse.
The boy is starting to outgrow his (excellent) second-hand bike trailer, so I figured, now that kindergarten is upon us, maybe it's time for a cargo bike? I considered buying an e-bike, but those are super expensive and I'm used to riding "acoustic" bikes a long way under heavy load anyway, so I bought a second-hand Yuba Mundo off the second-hand site that is not Kraigzlizst. It is blue and pretty.
After handing over cash and riding off, I immediately encountered a yard sale. Mostly tchotchkes and stuff I don't need - [record scratching sound] - is that an Olivetti typewriter case? Sadly, I'm at the point where I recognize Olivetti typewriter cases in the wild. It is, and it's an Olivetti Lettera 36, just scintillatingly cool. Look at those Smyrf blue knobs. Does it fit in the huge saddlebags in my new bicycle? It fits. Like it's daring me to take it home. Am I crazy enough to take it home for half off $5? I am.
When I get home, the boy meets me at the garage door and immediately wants to take a ride to his future elementary school. So with my back still sweaty from the backpack, I put his helmet on, hoist him up onto the padded seat, and take off. Within 8 minutes I am at the school, trying to figure out a way to get a very long bicycle through a little gate. We get through and he starts playing on their new and swanky playground equipment. There is evidence of summertime mischief on the playground - lots of "Buzzballz" scattered everywhere, and what more teenagey a place to drink cocktailz out of truncated spheres than an elementary school playground? - but it is awesome regardless. I stop by some more yard sales on the way home and people can't stop talking about the bike. A lady waves at us and we wave back. It feels pretty awesome.
Today the boy was asking me to sing happy birthday to someone as I was washing his hands. I frantically scrolled through Wikipedia and got as far as Jean Piaget (1896). And while it seems particularly appropriate to sing happy birthday to Piaget with a five-year-old, if I had scrolled farther I would have discovered that it was also Tove Jansson's birthday, which is much more exciting.
Tove Jansson, such a talent! Of course the melancholy twee comics nerd in me is a big fan of the Moomins, but her novels and short stories are great too. You can probably read The Summer Book in a hammock in a single summer afternoon. Take it from me, highly recommended.
I clicked through to the Wikipedia article, which offers this origin story for the Moomins:
Jansson said that she had designed the Moomins in her youth: after she lost a philosophical quarrel about Immanuel Kant with one of her brothers, she drew "the ugliest creature imaginable" on the wall of their outhouse and wrote under it "Kant". This Moomin later gained weight and a more pleasant appearance, but in the first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood (originally Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), the Immanuel-Kant-Moomin is still perceptible.
What kind of maniac loses philosophical quarrels with her brother about Kant when she is a youth and then proceeds to draw a caricature about it that goes on to change lives and launch theme parks?
I can guarantee that my brother and I did not get into quarrels about Kant, and while I retain some fondness for the horrific comic I drew in my youth ("Hardon the Mutilator") and his band's songs "Need Bullets," "Gun Kill," and "The Philosophical Ramifications of Ontological Theory", let's just say there is no comparison.
Many years ago, I put in a big order to Night-People (now defunct it looks like, sadly) and I got a big package in the mail with a lot of thoroughly aesthetically unified cassettes, as well as a T-shirt that weirds everyone out when I wear it, all eyeballs and dizzy-making warped op art.
One of the cassettes with said aesthetic was from also-now-defunct Melbourne act Moon Dice. They have that lost-inside-a-VCR sound that I can appreciate every so often without actually dipping their foot into the dreaded vaporwhatever genre trappings, especially now that vooporwoover is getting appropriated by a bunch of loathsome types eager to mix 80s nostalgia with nostalgia for late-30s Germany. MD just sound like a weird out-of-time facsimile of an 80s where everyone was listening to, well, not the Clean, but maybe Stephen? instead of A Flock of Seagulls.
Also, warbly pop music like this is one of the few scenarios where I can see tapes making sense. Because it does have the exact correct amount of bad sound on tape.
The way she uses the over-the-top phrase "the tortures of the memory of a lost love" not once, but twice, just to make sure that Schroeder (and the reader) are absolutely clear about why she is reducing his toy piano to dust!
I've largely left all the tortures of my memories of lost loves in other states, thank goodness*, but this one is just so great.
*(c.f. "All My Exes Live in Texas," a song that needed to be written, as inevitable as "Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk" - the language was laying it out there, saying, hey, here's that rhyme that will bring you the large amount of money and fame you were looking for)
Today my son was obsessed with expressions that include the word "whistle": clean as a whistle, bells and whistles, etc.
This naturally led me to do a search for noon whistles, that fixture of rural life back in my days in the hinterlands. Do they still exist? Yes! Are people obsessed with them and warning sirens in general? Yes!
A brief search and I was down a serious rabbit hole. Midwest Siren Productions, IASIRENSANDMORE. Sirens of NY. North Dakota Sirens and Roblox. Iowan Siren Recordings.
None of the videos actually, you know, really LISTENABLE unless you crank the volume way down. Does siren fandom include owning a siren? If so, do the fans crank them up? What went down at SirenCon 2021?
I mentioned Neutrals' "Personal Computing" a while back. Great song, right? What I didn't know is that there is a preposterous and delightful video, also in maximum nuclear blast burnt orange throughout, in which ray-traced* versions of the band themselves perform music.
There are also millisecond ray-traced blips of various computer activities, one of which is pretty clearly "Mole Attack" for the Commodore Vic-20, a deeply silly computerized version of Whack-a-Mole in which you earn points for striking mole heads as they emerge from the ground - BUT you lose points and create computerized flatus noise if you strike their rear ends as they wiggle out of the same holes.
DEEP CUT! I can only hope that this ridiculous game on a ridiculous machine, both of which I'm sure my folks purchased in deep discount bins at Pamida stores well after the machine was obsolete, meant something to someone in Scotland at the same time that I was making computer fart sounds on the plowed-over prairies of the American Midwest.
*Probably not the correct adjective - please watch the video and imagine yourself correcting me if I am incorrect
My boy and I like to look through the Births section of the Wikipedia entry for, say, June 17, since it changes up our handwashing routine to sing "Happy birthday, Igor Stravinsky" rather than just singing it to no one in particular.
Today in birthdays is comedian Will Forte. Sure, I'll sing happy birthday to him. His Wikipedia entry mentions this:
Forte has discussed and joked about his OCD tendencies. He recounted listening to only one song in his office at SNL for an entire year because he wanted to challenge himself.
I'm glad that no source on the internet mentions which song this is, unless it's in the podcast being cited, in which case forget it, since there is no circumstance in this life in which listening to a podcast seems like an appropriate activity for me. If you find out, let me know.
Which Pere Ubu is acceptable Pere Ubu? I love their early stuff (how many times have you heard that?) but I had long been a member of the extremist nothing-past-New Picnic Time club. Recently I had a moment where I realized I was being ridiculous and The Art of Walking and Song of the Bailing Man are actually pretty good, and actually The Tenement Year and Cloudland are pretty good too.
Those last two albums fall into the weird era where things aren't available on YouChoob Musik except for a few sketchy and incomplete gray-market playlists. Their Bandqlamp only has an abridged version of Cloudland and a limited-to-500 LP of The Tenement Year that apparently I missed the boat on.
When taking my kid to daycare recently I've been blasting "Small Was Fast" while he sits in the back of the car or in the bike trailer, reading his way through the library's juvenile graphic novel section. He is unperturbed.
Give me another decade or so and I'll expand to enjoy their material from the aughts, I'm sure.
One of the nice things about no one reading this blog is that I can make posts like this.
Lethologica is apparently the fancy-schmancy term for "tip-of-the-tongue syndrome," the inability to recall a specific word. It probably has a more specific fancier-schmancier definition in the literature, but let's go with the pop-psych listicle version for now.
It's a word that I frequently have use for, as a person who always prefers the fancy-schmancy word to the non-schmancy. But I 100% can never remember it.
Short of getting a $150* tattoo of some $1.50 word, probably the easiest way to remember this is to blog about it. Make an index card. Make it a password (note: I will not do this).
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.
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 howlongtoread.com 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.
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.
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...
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?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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."
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.
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.
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...
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:
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.