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: