November 23, 2003

"i was hoping i'd catch you out of luck." - haywood
the most insulting thing in America right now is the show Rich Girls on the so-called Music Television Network, which teaches persons too young to know better to idolize the idle wealthy simply for being idle and wealthy. this is much worse than so-called reality shows focusing on celebrities who previously achieved fame through the media for being beautiful, for being able to memorize lines, for being able to make their faces do things that convey McDonalds-quality emotions via the idiot boxes clotting the discourse in homes around the globe. The dipshits who star in this reality program are on TV simply because of their wealth. And while people of my vintage and temperament can find ideological or just plain grammatical fault with every goddamn word that comes out of the pieholes of the dumbasses pictured therein, my fear is that MTV's target audience of money-besotten teens don't have the critical thinking skills to not view the entire thing as something to aspire to: being rich for the sake of being idle and fully satisfied. At no point in the admittedly only 10 minutes of viewing my newly re-patriated wife subjected me to yesterday did there seem to be any acknowledgement that Tommy Hilfiger worked (or, more likely, thousands of underpaid third world garment workers worked) so that these teen idiots could alternate weekends between Nantucket and the Hamptons, as they did in what I watched yesterday. It would be easy to take this tirade to a million different places having to do with the younger generation going to hell, or hell, every living generation going to hell. But instead I will simply award the stupid vanity fair a super-sized "fuck you very much" and move on.

A rousing game of admittedly less-competitive dominoes was executed thursday night at the MOS with H-Dog from Accounts Receivable, Jimmy 4N and Jimmy's cohabitants. Good times. Friday the wife returned and proceeded to catch up on some much needed rest, so I headed over to A.R.C. to the Common Ground to mark the 29th bdays of Jonny Vegas and La Cardona. I was too tired from the preceding night's revelry to really get down, but it was fun hanging out with the aforementioned company and Ricky C.

Thanksgiving is this week, and we are looking forward to a return to PA to see the various families. After that December is shaping up to be a blur, as work-related parties are popping up left and right like weeds. Should be fun on the whole, and the next 7 or 8 weeks will just be a long coast down hill with no hands on the handlebars, what with the pending Woodbury/Perkins nuptials slated for mid January. The new laptop is en route and this is likely the penultimate if not ultimate post to clicky clicky 2004v.2 from this tired old machine. Once I get the data wiped I am going to recycle, unless Mathews thinks there might be a way to rig it as simply 4 gigs of external storage for the other machine? We'll take that up with him later.

Just to get some of the usual music talk in, here is what has been getting the heavy music rotation this week:

The Beatles: Please, Please Me/Hard Day's Night
Lawrence: The Absence of Blight
Notwist: Neon Golden
Mendoza Line: Poems to a Pawnshop/Like Someone in Love
Uncle Tupelo: March 16-20 1992

That is all.

November 16, 2003

"it seemed like it was enough, but it was never enough." - the mobius band

A lot of news to report, so where to begin. Friday eve was the big second anniversary of Dot Com Layoff Version One Point Oh, and as such I reconnoitered with Herr Koomahr, Dave Big Om, the Good Doctor and the Grohda. Fun was had, tho by the end of the night I was getting pretty sleepy as I had been drinking steadily for six hours.

Word has come down from on high that WPRS is getting with the times. This from the big man himself:

In light of recent updates [see here], I motion that we founding members of WPRS suck it up and 'get aboard' with the new direction our posse is heading. I know it may seem like a drastic departure from our original mission to bring the funk, but the Posse is an ever-changing and evolving organism. It is our duty to support the membership in its desire to change the Posse into a scaled-train operation.

I hope you take time to reevaluate your dedication, reexamine where your roots are planted, and recommit your loyalties. After I hear back from you, I will be contacting the new headquarters of WPRS, and informing them that we are going to reactivate our memberships, and become more involved in the new activities of the Posse.

My goal is for 25% of the original membership to be present for opening night of "Christmas in Intercourse, PA: The WPRS Holiday Train Extravaganza", which takes place Dec. 26 at the Holiday Inn in Intercourse, PA.

Thank you for your consideration.

This is big news, since the Posse has grown about as far flung and downright loose as possible over the last decade. I am glad our fearless leader has put out the call for tightening up. Anyhow...

I gave a relative crap-load of money to WMBR, and I am going to suck in the girth for a second and hoist myself up onto the soap box for another second to say that as part of our lifelong [WPRS-sanctioned or non-WPRS-sanctioned] stand against THE MAN it is important to support that which also stands against The Man. I am feeling particularly desperate about this in light of the cover story in December's Harper's magazine, another screed about the evils of Clear Channel's vertical dominance of radio outlets and live music venues. Not news, right? Well this article used as its hook Philly's notoriously corrupt License and Inspection bureau's actions (possibly at the behest of Clear Channel's regional bootlicker) against R5 Productions honcho Sean Agnew. Agnew throws well-orchestrated punk and indie shows in Philly, and has become organized and visible enough, apparently, to raise eyebrows among the greedy codpieces in the Clear Channel camp, which enjoys a vice-like grip on commercial radio and live venues in Philly as elsewhere. One of the main characters in the feature is Bryan Dilworth, husband of FMCer Kristen Thompson, one-time member of the Lilys, and now, apparently, Clear Channel's local underlord. Anyway, the whole story is fairly depressing. And without rehashing the argument against media consolidation, I just want to say take a look at the alternative and/or local media outlets in your hood, and support them. As Kam Fong long exhorted us, we must take OUR stand against The Man. So please go over to your leftist friend's pad and read the article, called "War of the Worlds - I. Big World: How Clear Channel Programs America." That is all about that.

The latest disc in the monthly Music Development Series is basically done, tho I may resequence some of the songs. Those will go out this week or as I see folks.

Lopez should be getting home from NH permanently at the end of this coming work week, and there may in fact be a Thanksgiving after all. Early this afternoon we bought a new Dell laptop online. It is worth noting that we opted for the 5150 model, not to give props to Van Hagar, but to give props to Van Halen.

I got off my arse this weekend and took the antique mandolin we rescued out of Lopez's abuelita's house last year up the road to Sandy's to have them look it over. They said it was basically structurally sound, and just needed some thorough clean-up and a new set of strings. I obliged, and now you will occasionally find me 'round the house trying to learn Hooters songs or the mandolin part to "I Will Dare."

There are a lot dishes to do. That is all.

November 13, 2003

"she wants a man around the house"- the mendoza line
A few times a year I stand up here and I advise immoral, unethical and occasionally downright illegal means be taken by you, the precious reader, to procure a record. Tonight I advise you to go without eating, sleeping and perhaps even drinking until you score Mendoza Line's Poems to a Pawnshop. The good Dr. seeded my little rock cloud with this platter and the band's Like Someone In Love via the US Mail today, and I have to say that this is even better than I had guaged during a single listen while commuting to NYC one day. The few of you out there enrolled in my need-based musical development program will be receiving a copy of this in the coming weeks (gotta keep the free rock karma flowing). The record will not disappoint.

November 10, 2003

"i've been keeping a dream journal, i'll let you read it" - new radiant storm king

Just got back from Room 514 at Mount Auburn Hospital where I saw Juan Gorni's day-old son Leo, who was born 24 hours and 2 minutes ago. 8lbs, full head of hair. Cute and small and warm and baby-like, as you'd imagine. More on that later.

In the past few weeks I have had solicitations from small indie labels asking if I'd review their records (some of my Junkmedia reviews are posted at and I guess people actually read em - whoulda thunk it). Of course I obliged, tho I have no "official" outlet for reviews what with Junkmedia's hiatus and general unwillingness to run reviews of less popular releases. But in an effort to keep writing I have been writing 200-word capsules of the stuff and I will run them here for you to ignore or read or whathaveyou. So without further ado:

Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing
Ninth Wave Records

You can hear the ambition in Macondo's Up Here For Thinking, Down There For Dancing, but ultimately the record's biggest success is also its most evident failure. The UK-based synth-pop duo goes too far in paying homage to the pillars of '80s New Wave (as well as almost-also-rans such as Anything Box and even Information Society) and don't go far enough in creating a real identity for themselves. Up Here For Thinking's opening cut, "Something's Got to Happen Soon" is intoxicatingly similar to Low Life-era New Order (particularly due to singer Wayne's Sumner-esque pipes) and contemporary efforts by Depeche Mode, but the impersonation gets old halfway through the record. Macondo's tunes are upbeat and pack plenty of hooks, but the one-dimensional bass and percussion tracks sound even more canned than those that drove the tunes of real-deal '80s acts. Unfortunately, Macondo doesn't have the excuse of first-generation equipment, and the production shortcomings suggest the project was recorded in a bedroom. That aside, Up Here For Thinking... suggests better records are yet to come from the duo, particularly if they can hook up with a solid producer to give them a bigger sound.

The Collisions
Talk is the New Action
Windjam Records

That the Collisions rock is readily apparent after a single listen to their new long-player, which boasts bright, tight production throughout its 11 songs. But it is also all too clear that these guys could use a hook or two. The slinky, bass-heavy numbers on Talk is the New Action are fraught with a zesty tension, particularly the stand-out slow-groover "Gasoline Can." But bassist and primary songwriter Dave Tatelbaum seems uninterested in providing much in the way of melodic relief. The line-drive guitar playing carries a hard, textural character that only begrudgingly colors much of the steadily chugging material here. The sole exception to this is the violin-studded waltz-rocker "Your Gun," the strongest cut of the set. Even so, inside the groove, where the Collisions seem to thrive, is not exactly a bad place to be, and in fact most bands would do well to follow the Collisions' lead now and again in that regard. However, the dark, surgical rock of the Collisions ends up even clouding over some of the more unusual numbers on Talk, including the psycho-ska of "Amateur," another album highlight.

That is all.

November 9, 2003

"whether you know it or not, I am not the one you want" - the mendoza line

greetings earthlings. just back from another weekend stint in Bedford, New Hampshire making the world safe for our beleaguered multinational client. Did get a chance to squeeze some fun into the weekend tho. Friday night the good Dr. and I took in the stylings of the Mendoza Line at the Middle East Upstairs. A relatively tight set for a band that is scattered across the country and never practices (they usually have a single day of practice before doing a few dates -- they rent a space for $40 an hr for the privilege). Anyway, the show was preceded by particularly amuzing conversation with TML's P. Depler, apparently the mastermind behind the enigmatic NGO the American Book Congress. Much of the postmortem of the set was devoted to how the band is determined to never realize its potential. Personally, having loved and lost such awesome bands as Kam Fong and Haywood, I am resigned to accept this. Others were less willing to accept disappointment. Oh well.

Last week I also went out on a school night with some co-workers and took in a silly little film called Bubba Ho Tep. I will not say it was worth $9 to see, but it was a fun time and the theater was so empty it was almost a private viewing. Tuesday seems to be the best night to see movies then. Or maybe it was Wednesday.

I received a BOAT LOAD of records Friday afternoon from Forced Exposure courtesy of the classy David Day. Mostly esoteric electronic stuff, including Via Tania's Boltanski EP and the new one from microhouse act Lawrence. Also a disc from The Mitgang Audio which is more straightforward German-sounding house music and a record by Nick Forte, a glitch effort that is listenable and interesting, though more in the academic sense. Listened to the Forte thing a couple times on my way home from New Hampshire this evening. The drive is turning out to be the best music listening environment for me. David also included a couple 12" records, I'll let you know about those after I throw them on the player this week. I did actually BUY a record this weekend: I was minding my own business at the Bedford, New Hampshire Walmart yesterday morning and decided that $9 for Abbey Road on CD seemed pretty fair. Spun that a couple times this morning -- listening to Beatles records always brings back fond childhood memories. That is all.

November 4, 2003

"The distance is quite simply much too far" - death cab for cutie

So I just had to memorialize this one, but first some background. Back in the early 90s when I was down with WPRS 24-7 we had this extreme appreciation for things that connoted how "down" you were, "down" at that point meaning something more like hardcore to the point that you just don't give a shit, as opposed to the current figurative usage indicating comradeship. Anyhoo, Tr0y wrote me an email yesterday that made me laff out loud, the salient part being:

Heard the new Strokes in THE MALL looking for $1.00 jazz tapes for my car, yeah that's right my car has a TAPE deck and I'm buying $1.00 used/cut-out jazz tapes to listen to while crusing around Lancaster, you should see the fucking collection I've already amassed ... cassettes are worthless, no-one wants them, thank the Lord for eBay!!!

Tr0y doesn't give A FUCK -- he's rocking tapes in the Tr0ymobile like it is '83 and NOT JUST ANY TAPES, he is buying goddamn $1 USED CUT-OUT TAPES!!! That is down in the circa 91 sense. Bonus points for Mr. Monkey then.

Other points of note: Kumar beat P. Diddy in the New York marathon while listening to a hot rock mix detailed here. "Evil Eye" by the almighty Fu is featured -- I imagine I could run an entire marathon just listening that number, it really gets the rock juices pumping.

I was minding my own business watching Music Choice on the idiot box the other night and caught a live set by Depeche Mode fronter gone solo David Gahan. And I have to say I thought it was pretty damn good, with emphasis on grimy sort of dark rock. I may be inspired to peruse the bins for a used copy of his solo joint, released last summer. On stage doing his rock stuff Gahan acts a little bit like Ozzy, it is kind of weird.

Finally, I am a guy that owns no records by The Fall. Which one is an imperative buy?

That is all.

November 2, 2003

"we need to talk, step into my office baby" - belle and sebastian

Today I picked up what I consider to be three of the biggest records of the year. Let's begin with the first two. The straight dope: Just about every song on Death Cab's Transatlanticism is better than all the songs on the new Strokes album, Room on Fire, put together. I know there are some cost-conscious readers out there, so you need to know that the Strokes record is actually, at least after a single run through, sort of dull. The vast majority of the numbers slog by at slightly less than mid-tempo. The single and the final track are the strongest. I am sure I will eventually come to accept this record, but right now it seems like it is just a bunch of songs not catchy enough to be included on the first record. The guitar playing in many places is even more simplified than on the first record. Efforts to make the songs melodically more sophisticated are apparent, but not always succesful. Efforts at capitalizing on minimalism are never as successful as, say, those of Flin Flon's Chicoutimi.

Transatlanticism, on the other hand, is an astounding work. I've listened to it twice straight through, and it is already my favorite record of the year. The production is imaginative, though a little bleary with mid-range. The record is very atmospheric, enhanced by a great deal of ambient sound. The cuts are intermittently spiced up with Postal Service-type bleepity bleeps and more traditional instrumentation including piano and acoustic guitar. Very importantly for me, there is a lot of big fucking guitars, relative to the rest of the Death Cab oeuvre. Overall, the tunes sound like the optimal amalgamtion of the Beatles, the Connells and Buffalo Tom, but of course with Gibberd's literate vocals and Walla's dynamite production ideas. This record is Death Cab's best, and is as good as something like The Bends.

Oh yeah, the third record I got is the new Belle and Sebastian joint, which is actually a solid piece of work. Trevor Horn actually seems to have exercised some restraint and not ruined this, as I feared he would. There is a lot of AM Gold type stuff here, but it is all catchy. "I'm A Cuckoo" would even make a great Thin Lizzy song, if not a twee one. This will probably be on my year-end list too, but I will reserve judgement until I have actually heard it in its entirety.

What else is going on? We went to a rad Halloween party at Cardin's up in Salem, Mass. Met a lot of cool people, had fun hanging out with the Wathewses, stayed up late into the night like I haven't done in probably a couple years. The sucky part was the drive up to Salem, which took three hrs cause of heavy traffic. Memo to everybody else who drove to Salem that night and slowed us down -- you suck. Anyway, Cardin has a beautiful new condo up there, on a beautiful street. It got me and Lopez talking about getting down to buying a place, which hopefully we will do come spring time. Don't really know where we want to be, but Marblehead/Salem seems really nice. Lopez is pushing for a joint near work, perhaps Charlestown. Guess we need to go explore over there in the next couple months.

A final note: Bolt Upright is about to set about poring through demos I taped from March 2001 to July 2002, as I am thinking of doing a little package of about 10 cuts, just to give out. Hopefully it will inspire me to get writing. Strangely, the amount of reading I do is directly related to the amount of music I write -- it is like reading is the fuel. Sort of strange. Anyway, gotta straighten up around the house. Rock on. That is all.