Reconsiderations

I’ve recently been quite into the first several Apples in Stereo albums. I had a few of them on CD-R, copied from friends, but I guess I must not have listened to them much before, or maybe I did but it never stuck for some reason. I think maybe I thought based on their reputation that they were too sunny, too pop, or was put off by their Pet Sounds worship, or something. It’s strange, because I own a CD of theirs from Darla’s Bliss Out series which I’ve always liked. Anyway, as a result of my ongoing quest to re-rip stuff I have on CD-R (but not from my crappy see-through CD-Rs of course), I’ve been listening to Tone Soul Evolution, Her Wallpaper Reverie, and The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone. Just some great stuff on there; good all the way through, and a few songs you can’t believe weren’t written before. Some tunes reminds me a bit of Kinks worship era Lilys. Some of it is a bit on the lo-fi side, and the vocals are a bit buried at times, e.g. on Silver Chain. Anyway, here are a few favorite tracks…

What’s the #

Shine a Light

Silver Chain

Ruby

I Can’t Believe

Catherine Wheel is one of those bands that I totally loved, but for some reason never paid any attention to past their first two albums. Recently though I’ve finally been getting into their third album, Happy Days. Maybe I had turned away because there’s potentially a bit of a cheese or emo factor or something; it’s perhaps a bit embarrassing to like at this point, but here we are.

Judy Staring at the Sun (with Tanya Donelly)

Waydown

I gave their fourth album Adam and Eve a couple spins lately too, but haven’t been able to get into that one thusfar.

Leaving the ’90s behind for a moment, I for some strange reason just assumed the band xx would be lame, and passed up a chance to see them at SXSW a few years back, but in reality it turns out they’re fairly neat, catchily sparse.

Crystalised

Islands

Silence of the Links

I was online when it happened. I think I had just downloaded a Nirvana bootleg, despite wondering whether its contents were already on the “With the Lights Out” box I owned. I had recently downloaded, listened to, and dug on some Arthur Russell stuff a blog had posted, and decided to further investigate his oeuvre via the other links provided. Except that when I clicked on the link, it went to an FBI warning. Huh, that’s weird. Must be a stale link from a DMCA takedown request or something. I should really decide whether to download these things sooner, and not let them fester starred forever in my feeds. Tried another link, same result. Hmmm, OK, did I click on something funny and get my browser taken over? It was very strange that everything would be fine one second, and f’d the very next.

I was really bummed when Megaupload bit the dust. Of all the file deposit sites used by mp3/flac blogs, I very much preferred MU, because they didn’t engage in a lot of the usual nonsense of all the other sites, like throttling download speeds for non-paying users, annoying captcha stages, misleading “download” buttons/links, etc. Mr. Dotcom was a real stand-up dude that way. It was funny to learn more (or any, actually) info about MU. I had no idea that such money could be made from running one of those sites. I guess maybe I just figured they were some crazy freedom loving Swedes or Russkies or whoever, although I’m not sure I had even formulated that vague a conception of who they might be.

I have to say I was a bit surprised to see how scared shitless everyone suddenly became, with a number of other sites turning off file sharing capabilities or preventing all U.S.-based IP addresses from connecting. Even more mystifying and disappointing was that most of the music blogs I had been following threw in the towel and either stopped posting or erased their blogs, even though there still remained a number of other file sharing sites they could’ve used. Beyond other worries that could be mentioned, I guess it’s a bummer when all the music you’ve ever shared just got erased. People posted comments about the “end of an era” and “fun while it lasted” and “we had a good run of it for a while”, and so on. WTH, people?

With all that, it did start to feel like the end of the era. I’m hoping it’s just a pause, though. Really, I could use a pause. Especially with my recent nomadicity, I haven’t had a chance to listen to music as much as usual, and particularly not to recently downloaded stuff. And I have tons and tons of now bittersweetly stale MU links (among others) still in saved RSS posts. When I just had enough time I was sure to go through them all and figure out which of those many albums by artists known or unknown to me that either sounded vaguely intriguing, had supercool artwork, or had been raved about by the blog poster as classic and/or totally necessary, would be worth my time to download, tag, catalog, and eventually, maybe, actually listen to…

At least one blog I follow has finally snapped out of its non-musical funk and started posting again, albeit in a more careful manner. Hopefully more will follow. Those out-of-print lost-classic albums aren’t going to discover themselves, are they?

On a LavDi kick

Just listened to the studio version of this song about 35 times in a row.

This was taped in 2007. In other news, 2007 was half a decade ago and I have become old in body and spirit, though I was already. I have music tattooed on my brain. I pass by joggers with wires going into their ears and think, “why didn’t I think of that?”. What will people make of the 00’s anyways? Will they even have a reputation, musical or otherwise? Maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. All I know at this point is that skunks follow me wherever I go, sooner or later. They say cabin fever is worse than the skunk spray, but that’s just crazy talk.

Cool lame new music

Was at a bar Saturday night shooting darts when a song came on the jukebox type machine, a catchy danceable number with some neat/odd filtered synth tones happening, and I felt compelled to Shazam the shiz out of it. To my horror, it was a track [“Helena Beat”] by a band [Foster the People] that friends had been trashing just the very night previous. Although, I believe the trashing may have been due to factors not necessarily musical (e.g. sentiments along the lines of: they’ve been unfairly getting all the breaks, etc.). Their Wikipedia page doth seem to protest too much in prominently noting that founder Foster spent “several years in Los Angeles as a struggling musician”, so perhaps this is a non-unique viewpoint.

Anyway, I’ve been unable to get the tune out of my head since. Here’s the video, which although I’m sure is fine and everything, I found pretty inadequate to accompany the tune’s hypnotic insistence (or at least wasn’t the least bit like what I was visualizing). In general I dislike music videos in which the music seems to be accompaniment for the visuals, rather than the other way around. Anyway, see what you think. Try listening a couple times before watching.

[EDIT]:

Just came across this other video for the song, created by two cool Austrian chicks. Much more my speed, I have to say.

Also, after reading more of the Wikipedia page, the licensing action does seem kinda grossly excessive.

A Song Like This

Though ’80s mainstream radio seemed to become increasingly dominated by synth pop and such as the decade wore on, I do remember digging certain songs that in retrospect seem rather incongruous, simply by virtue of being non-trendy standard old school rock ‘n’ roll. The Smithereens’ “A Girl Like You” (released in 1990, but I’ll consider it ’80s since it came out before grunge hit), holds up pretty well even today, to my ears. I was glad to find I could still enjoy it without reservations, unlike what sometimes happens when I revisit old top-40 likes that turn out to have been slightly cheesadelic.

Anyone familiar with their catalog? I remember being fairly lukewarm at the time about the rest of 11, the album this was from, but I would have to assume there’s some goodness elsewhere amongst their stuff.

Early Thursday morning jam

Have heard this a couple times on the local college radio frequency modulation broadcasting station. Intrigued the first time, but didn’t catch the artist name. Second (or maybe third?) time’s the charm. And now, Ty Segall with another track from my next mix, “You Make the Sun Fry”:

Funnily enough, I’d previously heard but not seen him play, while staying at a friend’s place above a venue, though not this one:

Oh, and here he is at a protest for Save KUSF:

awrip27

Had never really listened to her before, but this was playing at various festive events I attended over the weekend, and now I can’t seem to get it out of my head.

I also got to hear Lady Gaga, apparently for the first time (apparently I’m sheltered). One song was barely bearable, the other two were absolute steaming piles of excrement, though no one else seemed to mind.

Edible Cheese

Coming back from LA on Thursday, driving up the 101, had forgotten the iPod back in the Bay, and neglected even to bring the cassette adapter into the passenger compartment, hence no backup iPhone action. My well-worn mixes would’ve sufficed, had my potentially gas money contributing rideshare prospects not all flaked in an unwelcome reminder of LA/CL cornflake action. Given their absence, I decided to tune in to the “air waves”, which I hear are totally irrelevant nowadays. Either that, or worth millions of dollars. I forget which.

Anyway, at some point driving up through the areas which give you tasty spinach and less tasty E. coli, farmed in large part by folks whose families or selves originated south of the border, I was tuned into a continuous ’80s dance mix the likes of which are seldom heard nowadays on terrestrial radio, and especially not (I would imagine) on radio en Espanol (or bilingual, I forget which once again). In these instances, my tolerance for cheese increases mightily, as I sample from the cheese platter that is popular music, seeing if any delectable bits may be found among the unintentional moldy nonblue cheese and intentionally overprocessed plastic-wrapped singles that typically dominate.

One song really caught my attention, with its deep funky synth bass, and well-timed bomb sounds straight off my sister’s keychain that used to amuse us so much back in the ’80s. Googling the lyrics later (i.e. “you dropped a bomb on me”), I discovered it was a band known as “The Gap Band”. Not sure if it was the album version, or a special “disco mix” type thing, but it’s been rattling around my head so much lately that I’m seriously considering it for inclusion on my next mix:

Around the time of the non-Rapture, KALX DJ after KALX DJ was doing special shows devoted to end of the world themes. I feel like a bunch of songs with that particular bomb sample were played at one point, possibly including the aforementioned song, but I can’t say con certitude. I’m pretty sure Flipper’s “Sex Bomb” got played, though. If only I had recorded my own version, “Sex Tweet”, I’d be raking in the dough now.

Anyway, a secondary pleasure was rehearing Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s “Head to Toe” (did I just type that?). The part I like is where there’s a slight pause, and she goes into a high register singing “I think I love you from” solo, with the rest of the lyrics harmonized [check it at 1:10, 2:26]. There’s just something about harmonized vocals, especially with male & female harmonizing, that’s really complex and unexplainable.

I was fairly shocked that Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” never entered the mix while I was listening. It would’ve fit in perfectly.

I’ll spare you a YouTube link, but at a later time on another station I heard Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. First time in a while, that’s for sure. The bass seemed bigger than I remembered, but in a sort of overblown way. Not sure the word “flabby” would totally apply, so I’ll stick with “overblown” for now. Sort of a mainstream version of “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. R.E.M.’s song 1987, Billy Joel’s 1989, hmmm. Anyway, it brought back to mind a day in my A.P. History class in high school. My teacher had been sent the song with accompanying teaching material, like it’d be a good teaching tool. He played the song for us, and we all seemed to agree it was educational or whatever. But then he let us know what he thought about it, which is that it was total B.S. The lyrics “we didn’t start the fire” were basically an attempt to say that we weren’t responsible for anything bad that’s happened. A huge cop-out. And this was supposed to be educational. Listening to it again, I have to agree.

Eventually I got back in range of KFJC. They were playing some glorious guitar noise/drone stuff. At one point it sounded really familiar, and I thought maybe they’d somehow gotten a hold of an Ultra Hummus CD, but eventually I realized it was of course some other band (this has happened a few times now). Makes me simultaneously proud but angry with myself, hearing someone else do what I should’ve done. Here’s the playlist. Not sure which of the many bands listed that I’ve never heard of provoked these thoughts. Though quite pleasant, this wasn’t it:

The KFJC experience reminded me of the abrupt cheese/avant transition that would often accompany drives back to Houston. Navigating the unfriendly I-45 through the miles of ugly urbania north of the loop, it was so very disorienting and wonderful to suddenly be able to hear KTRU loud and clear, maybe even playing a friend’s band, but more likely playing something unidentifiable yet intriguing. I suppose those days are over. I could say, “for better or for worse”, because that’s what people seem inclined to say in these types of situations, apparently out of force of habit, but it’s clear that in this instance it’s only for the worse.

Speaking of which, the NPR/Classical cabal, apparently unsatisfied in its bloodlust until all interesting college radio stations in the nation are liquidated in favor of the music of the dead, is attempting to strike in very similar fashion once again, this time in Music City. See here and here. … I feel as if a ghost, watching my remaining brothers being murdered one by one. Who’ll stop the rain?