August 2004 Archives


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I'm off to the desert. See you all in a week and a half. Drink lots of water.

trying to fool the public

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Been a longer time than the Infinite Remix of the "Keep A-Knockin'" Intro, I know. For those who are reading via the Wanna Aggregator: no MP3 this time, almost certainly none until I return sun-baked the second week of September. Life and work are intervening. Nothing to hear, move along.

Short version is:

1) I have now held the book in my very own hands, although I don't think it's out for real until October. Believe me, you'll know when it is.

1a) Typing "wolk apollo" into the Amazon search engine yields my book, followed by a book I loathed, a book I have owned for 8 years but haven't read, a book I really want, two books I think I also have lying around, a real Bible and a fake Bible. Odd.

2) I went to Norway, and then I came back. Writing about it for Matos, and that will probably include all the good stories. It was a seriously work-oriented trip, aside from a couple of lovely ferry rides to beaches and an hour or two taking Polaroids of inappropriately placed lemons and limes at the Vigelandspark. Might go back and add more notes here, if things don't fit in the article.

3) So wait, what exactly was less ass-sucky about rock lyrics up to 15 years ago? Franklin's got a solid list of counterexamples, and the discussion's getting lively and is staying mostly pretty civil... but there seems to be the unquestioned assumption in there of a Golden Age of rock lyrics from before hip-hop swooped in and slammed its flag into the "good lyrics" territory. Was it that there were more good rock lyricists operating? That a greater percentage of rock hits had good lyrics? etc. What happened, exactly? What was different in those days?

3a) My favorite lyric to a rock song, today, specifically, is the sentence by Angela Carter that Dog Faced Hermans turned into the words of their song "Virginia Fur" with minimal nip-and-tuck to make it songier (e.g. "as soft as soft/as pink as pink"):

She came from a community where women ruled the roost, imparted effortlessly a sense of my sex's ascendancy in the scheme of things, and every word and gesture of hers displayed a natural dominance, a native savagery and I am very grateful for all that now although the core of steel was a bit inconvenient when I was looking for boyfriends in the South in the 1950's when girls were supposed to be as soft and pink as a nursuree.

4) Semi-relatedly: Seeing the words of "Tears of a Clown" spelled out on the monitor at karaoke the other night with Amy and Dabble-Rouser was useful. But not as much fun as Amy's "Dancing in the Dark" or D.-R.'s elaborately choreographed "Control." I attempted with limited success to jitterbug throughout my rendition of "Goody Two Shoes."

5) I am, as Tom Hazelmyer sang in Halo of Flies' 1987 "Headburn" (a solid two years before rock lyrics went to hell), on the goddamn road I'm a vagabond. Oslo was followed by four full days back home in PDX; now I'm in Queens, typing this on my kitchen floor (the only place I can get wireless signal here), and attempting to work out the remaining organizational details of "Sound Sun Pleasure". On Sunday, Lisa & I go upstate to visit my parents for a day or two; then I come back here, do a quick interview, write a million pieces, fly to Portland for two days, then head off to the desert to install "SSP." Once I return from the playa, if things go down as they're looking like they're going to, I spend 3 days at home, fly back to New York to do an interview for an article, return to Oregon for K8/Dan and Sarah/Mary's respective weddings, turn right back around and zoom off to NYC for eMusic's party, then return to the Pacific Northwest for a solid week (possibly nipping up to Seattle to see some incarnation of the Shock Exchange play) before Lisa and I head off to Washington, DC for SPX... so what I'm saying is that service, whatever kind of service you're expecting, my beloved ones, may be intermittent. And yes, I have discovered the joy of Frequent Flyer programs. And am praising Heaven every day for making me capable of reading on planes, especially since I'm taking on Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle for a review. Like everyone else, I love entertainment.

fat day! fat day!

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One more quick entry before I vanish for the week. Fat Day, a.k.a. the greatest hardcore band on the planet (and yes there are MP3s on that site, although they really don't do their conceptual grandeur justice), are on their "Snarl of Pulchritude" tour across the East Coast, August 14-29. Here are the dates:

Saturday August 14 NY, NY at the Asterisk Art Project:
Sunday August 15 Boston, MA at Great Scott!:>
Monday August 16 Providence, RI at AS220:
Saturday August 21 Palmer, MA at the Shed:
Sunday August 22 Albany, NY at Valentines:
Monday August 23 Buffalo, NY at Big Orbit Soundlab:
Tuesday August 24 Baltimore, MD at the WhyU:
Wednesday August 25 Asheville, NC at Vincent's Ear:

Thursday August 26 Winston-Salem, NC at PS211/Werehouse:
Friday August 27 Charlotte, NC at Queen City Underground:
Saturday August 28 Richmond, VA:
Sunday August 29 Hampton, VA at Rat Ward:

I don't usually list tour dates here, but... Fat Day are awe-inspiring. Go see 'em.

preemptive bike

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So here I was about to try to seek permission to put up a New Bad Things MP3, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but the Freewheel Records site--featuring, among other things, MP3s of all of New Bad Things' albums. Try "Josh Has a Crush on a Femme from Reed" from Freewheel, "The Dirge" from Society (covered memorably by the Delgados), or "Over Me" from Ennui Go. Maybe the most... Portland band I can think of. I also have a vivid memory of seeing them completely tear it up at a house party in Brooklyn sometime in the late '90s, including an encore of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax."

Crunched with Norway preparations, so you probably won't be seeing much from me for another week. We did get to make a nice, quick trip for our anniversary to the Oregon coast, and a lovely B&B around the corner from an antiquarian bookstore with a basket in its window with some of these in it. Our room had a guest book in which virtually everybody noted that they'd gone there either a) for an anniversary, b) on their honeymoon, or c) to be proposed to. Except for one particular entry, of which Lisa took a photo that we'll put up here eventually. Don't wanna spoil it by paraphrasing.

nautical beard rally

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So you know how Mission of Burma broke up in 1983, and got back together a couple of years ago, and then they made ONoffON and there was much rejoicing, etc.? Well, there's a missing chapter to the story, and here's part of it: Wrong Pipe's "Kuchkah Tay Zod" (removed), the B-side of a single they made in 1994. Wrong Pipe was a one-off collaboration between Roger Miller (who wrote this one) and Clint Conley (thanks to both of them for permission to post this)--unsurprisingly, it sounds like an alternate-universe version of Burma, with totally different (non-live-band-based) production. Also unsurprisingly, it's awesome. (I sort of wish they'd done some more recording like this, or that they'd do some more recording like this, actually: taking advantage of the incredible chemistry they've got, but free of the obligations of being, y'know, Burma.) Also, the dream-language of the lyrics reminds me a little of Miller's solo album Oh. (guitars, etc.), one of the best bridges I've ever heard between rock and experimental music.

Updates liable to be pretty minimal over the next few weeks, I'm just warning you right now. Doesn't mean I'm losing interest, just means I need to retrieve some more singles to digitize (and track down permissions from some more bands--who's got a contact for Faxed Head? The email at their web site bounces), and that I'm going to be traveling a lot and not in a position to update much...

I cannot believe it's taken me this long to actually see The Office. Love it, of course, and every time I watch an episode of it I shudder with relief at not working at an office job any more.

sticky stones and bony crones

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No song today here--but I'm one of the guest curators over at Fluxblog this week, and just posted a rather lovely Hans Appelqvist piece over there. So go have a look.

The only real development on this front is that I got my first serious Portland haircut, by which I mean not just here but in the style of my subculture here. Stringy, rakish, maintaining some of the two-tone effect from the Great Douglas's Head Bleachout. It makes me feel modern. Got it at Bishop's, a mini-chain here where there are no reservations, just a signup sheet and chairs and loud mix CDs playing, and the magazine on top of the pile is Giant Robot, and they hand you a PBR while you're waiting (well, they handed me a cup of water, but they offered the PBR).

infinite pastel thunder

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Melody Dog's "Futuristic Lover" (removed) was one of a bare handful of songs the duo of Katrina from the Pastels and Pat Crook recorded--two singles, a compilation track or two, a Scottish radio session, and that's just about it. (There may be some kind of anthology of the lot of 'em coming out in Japan at some point, though.) As a lot of mix-tape makers in the early '90s knew, you put this dazed, hopeful little song on a mix tape for the object of your affection, and if they have a functional heart, they melt. (The slight misdirection of the title helps--it wouldn't be nearly as effective if it were exactly what the ending suggests.) Thanks to Katrina and Pat for permission to post this.

Best album I've heard this month is, somewhat surprisingly, the bonus disc from the new reissue of Elvis Costello's Kojak Variety. (Of course, the month is only three days old at this point, but I have been going through the slush pile.) Especially good: a ten-track sequence of covers of other people's songs that he recorded in one day as a demo for George Jones--just to suggest some songs that Jones might do well to cover. My favorite's Bob Dylan's "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go," done here as rattling jumpy rockabilly. Beyond the Jones stuff, there's a terrific Lennon/McCartney song called "Step Inside Love" that I'd never heard before--written for Cilla Black, apparently, and done here with a Supremes-ish arrangement. (Does the original sound similar? I should track it down and find out.)

clarification and dream

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A small clarification, first. This is not exactly an MP3 blog; it's a personal blog that happens to include MP3s on a fairly regular basis. I realized that I don't want to ever feel like I can't write about, oh, Aunt Sally's thyroid medication problems because people will be anxiously tapping their feet and saying "we don't care, give us some tunes"; I"m not getting paid to do this, I do it for fun--these songs are part of the fabric of how I live and what I think about--and so this is the way I'm doing it.

With that out of the way. very odd dream last night. In the main and longest scene, I was in a huge circular concert hall, divided in half by a wall with a few doors; one half had a stage recessed into the wall, on which there was a music festival going on, and the other had a bunch of booths for commerce. I was hanging out in the non-stage half, chatting with somebody else at the cafeteria-style table I was sitting at, when I saw a flash of a familiar white suit through the door. "Bowie! It's Bowie!" I said. Sure enough, when I got to the concert side, David Bowie and his band had just taken the stage--they were the unannounced special guests at the show. I was right up front to see them do a medley of "Burning Down the House" and "Wild Thing." Since Lisa wasn't with me, I tried to call her on my cell phone to send her a Bowie-gram; Bowie recognized me somehow, and came over to me and sang a line of "Wild Thing" changed to mention Lisa. (But then I looked at the phone and it wasn't transmitting.) After they finished, I went to the commerce area and was flipping through a book for sale that was handbound and also handwritten; I talked to the woman who'd made the book for a while, but when I went back to the concert side, people were coming out of it in droves saying "man--they were AMAZING." It turned out that some kind of black metal band had just played, and had been impressive enough that even people who don't think they like that kind of thing had loved it. I didn't even catch their name. In a second, shorter scene, I'm in my parents' house, talking to my father about its architectural oddities ("wow--I never realized this place has 20-foot ceilings on the lower floor!"--it doesn't, really), but a thunderstorm breaks out and he convinces me to head outside to stand under the roof and count lightning flashes.

I'm assuming that that part of the dream has to do with ongoing house angst. We haven't looked at any houses since the other day, but on Friday evening Lisa and I went out in the car, and noticed that there was a huge bulldozer in front of the picturesque, slightly decrepit old Victorian that's kitty-corner from our apartment. "Hmm," we thought aloud, "wonder what it's doing there?" Two seconds later, with an enormous CRUNCH, it tore off the entire fa├žade of the building. "AAAAAH!," we thought aloud. When we came back two hours later, the house was a pile of splinters. Now we hear rubble-removing noises all day long.

Last night, we went to the showcase for the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls--the weeklong summer camp program that teaches 8-18-year-old girls to play in bands with each other. 17 bands in all, this time, plus everyone at the beginning singing the camp's theme song, led by Rachel from the Decemberists, Chelsey Johnson and Carrie Brownstein. At which point I realized that this IS the best thing ever. Some of the bands were definitely a little more coordinated than others, but a few of 'em were wonderful on their own--I especially loved the Bookworms, two VERY tiny girls whose song was called "The World Is Becoming a Wasteland" and sounded like the very early Germs, and the Scorchers, who switched instruments mid-song twice. Others seemed to have unintentionally gotten into "Puerto Rican Ghost"/"Spectre Vs. Rector" territory, which is not a bad place to explore. And when Splenda played, I thought: wow, that drummer's fantastic! Then I realized: oh, right, that drummer's Jody Bleyle!

Jody was, of course, one of the mainstays of both the legendary Portland band Hazel and Team Dresch, who are reuniting for a one-off show next weekend at the Homo A-Go-Go festival in Olympia--I'm strongly considering going. And--oh, look, here's a song now: Hazel's "Blank Florida" (removed)! (Thanks to Jody for permission to post it, and to her friend Lucy for acting as a go-between.) Hazel played this one at their reunion show a few months ago, and I jumped higher than I have in a while. I love its sense of a three-way conversation--the way the drum fills act as hooks, the vocals sometimes synching up and sometimes diverging, switching off who's in control. Deceptively short, too. Anyone want to take a guess at what the title means?