December 31, 2003

"Park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me." - Broken Social Scene

The Holidays were nice but it is equally nice being back in Cambridge after eight days away. Got some good loot for Xmas including this and this and even this. But more than that it was just nice to hang out with people I don't see very often such as Zippy, Abrazzi, Lanky Jim, Deano and Agent Buck. Set up my folks on their new desktop and got my dad's blackberry working -- two things he hopes to master. I hope he can at least derive some entertainment value out of the PC. I set up a My Yahoo page for him to use as a launch pad. We'll see how that goes.

My year end best of list for the rock and roll should be posted at CheekyMonkey sometime in the next couple weeks, keep checking in.

Broadband arrives and changes everything on Friday. If we correspond with any regularity I will probably hit you with an email from a new Comcast account soon. If we don't correspond regularly and you need to get me, hit my Wesleyan account and I will try to remember to check it a couple times in the next couple months.

Heading out this evening for some Chinese food and light recreation thereafter at the Housh-Thomases. Should be splendid. Trying to get the house straightened up and all the Christmas stuff in place. Dug out two of the three boxes I need to box up the old desktop, which goes offline for good Friday as well. Change is afoot. Still haven't seen The Return of the King or any of the other movies I'd like to see, but hope to knock some out between now and Monday, or at least between now and when we head off to Tortola to attend the pending Posse/Perkins nuptials there. Happy new year, nerds.

That is all.

December 20, 2003

"Gas man came and took out our electric stove, I helped him carry it." - Lemonheads

I was about to get on and just point out the compelling and detailed report I saw on how bad Wal-Mart is for just about everyone. But I was just minding my own business on Mass Ave a few minutes ago when I saw guys with signs imploring consumers to boycott Newbury Comics, an indie record chain in the greater Boston area that is typically considered the good guy when it comes to the record retail business. That being because they are an independent with strong local ties. But now there is this.

I have to say that personally I do find the videos described offensive and depraved. And I do think that a boycott is a good means of getting Newbury to cease distributing the videos (of course, that doesn't make them go away, but I think people have a right to speak with their dollars to get retailers they frequent to adhere to their values). But I wonder if there is a First Amendment issue here at all. What sort of protection under the law should obscene exploitation (and that is so clearly what it is) enjoy? I don't know. I am generally against censorship. But I think ultimately the interests of The State might be best served by these "filmmakers" going to jail for inciting homeless-on-homeless assault, rather than me or someone with my values just tracking them down and stomping on their gonads. Repeatedly.

Anyway, back to Wal-Mart. Last night on PBS' NOW program I heard the most well-reasoned and harrowing account of why we all must stop shopping at Wal-Mart. We all know that they underpay their workers and this lets them pass on greater discounts to the end consumer of the goods they vend. What might not have been made so clear before is that Wal-Mart management actively works to 1) terminate employees before they reach eligibility for health benefits and 2) actively counsels employees to have their health needs met by Public Health outlets for the poor. Basically Wal-Mart has crafted part of their business model around having taxpayers unwittingly pay the health benefits of its employees. Who cares? Well, it cost the state of California about $20 million last year. This -- coupled with the fact that for every Wal-Mart superstore that opens in the next five years, two other grocery stores will close -- is creating a mechanism by whole segments of population are either being put out of work and seeking medical attention financed by the government that -- while deserved and necessary -- is a result of Wal-Mart (relatively) indirectly, or are being placed there on the rolls directly by Wal-Mart management. So that's it for Wal-Mart. I will never spend another dollar there again (not that I ever shop at one anyway, but last month I bought some stuff there for the first time in a few years), and Wal-Mart management is also now pushed to the front of the line for ball-stomping. Smile.

Gotta wrap presents. That is all.

December 17, 2003

"She's changing cars on the subway to avoid me."- Wendyfix

Three short items, as there is quite a lot of office-partying and the like to do this week. First off, an old but informative/entertaining interview with Joey Sweeney is archived here -- note the reference to "Girls High." Second, the New York Times just ran a very informative look at Dizzee Rascal, whose album is on my "need to hear to be an educated hipster" list (it usually takes me about 6 months to actually hear the things on this imaginary list, and the six month is right about now). Anyway, it requires signing in, which isn't so painful, and especially worth it since the article has a lot to offer. Finally, I discovered BookBitch today while researching some titles for Lopez' Xmas pile. I haven't decided how much stock I put in this woman's opinion yet, but how can you not love the name? Elegant in its simplicity, indeed.

That is all.

December 15, 2003

"Yesterday was cool but today's just OK and I can hear you losing your keys from 10 blocks away." - Barnabys

I just noticed that one of the current writers for Pitchfork is named Brandon Stosuy, which means very little to many of you without the proper background, which is if it is the same Mssr. Stosuy he is responsible for the awesome Indie 500 festival of 1993 and the micro-indie label Jiffy Boy Records, creator of the rather good Ten Cent Fix indie rock comp featuring Barnabys, the Grifters, the Lilys and scads of other great pop from lesser known acts. The Indie 500 (mentioned here) was my first real indoctrination into Indie Rock. It took place on a farm in Vincentown, NJ near Princeton. There I met folks like Jon Solomon, Joey Sweeney, the folks in Small Factory. I learned later that it was sort of a cognoscenti even as people I met in later years all seemed to have been there, including this girl (scroll down). Anyway, Brandon was also in this rock act Slow Children Playing, which recorded a couple decent songs. Funny that he still follows the rock. This all assuming its the same guy. Not really a common name tho.

Strangely enough, I just found some of Lars' record reviews from April 12, 1994 here.

Anyway, enough of that. More of this: I was minding my own business the other day thinking about Kam Fong when I came across this. For those of you who haven't had the distinct pleasure of a personal intro, Ryan Widger is the Clark Kent alter-ego for The Postman, a.k.a. the bass player that lead Kam Fong out of the living room and onto the stage during a long hiatus when Chuck was out of the band. Widger was always an accomplished writer (the few of you who have heard his literally horrifying lyrics from KF's Ardmore Sessions know what I am talking about) and photographer. I guess he finally decided to follow through on the photo thing. Some of the shots here are pretty cool. One, I beleive, features DS Brook, she formerly residing with DSJ at the mythical Dust Pad in South Wayne.

I scored the Mazarin record yesterday for $3. It is very good indie pop. Stoltzfus really sounds like Jeff Mangum at some points here. Wild.

In addition to keeping your eyes on the prize, keep an eye on Your Record Sucks for a review of BTS Ancient Melodies and eventually, the new Blink 182. Further, I just reviewed the Brokaw record for Junkmedia, which still insists it is reviving in 2004.

I was going to rant about how I got a catalog called Frontgate that greatly exacerbates my dislike of the Western Capitalist Culture-driven Insatiable Appetite for New & Better Things With Which to Do Stuff That You Could Do Already With The Shit You Already Have Right Now, but I am tired of sitting here.

I do want to shower props on two things before That Is All-ing:

1). Saw Black Nativity with Big Al and Kerri on Saturday night. It was very, very entertaining. No, it's not a metal band, its a Gospel re-telling of the story of the birth of that Important Christian Dude.

2). Prior to the show Big Al took us to what might be the best bar downtown. It is upstairs at Marliave. It is utterly unhip and quiet and the service at the tiny bar is inconsistent in a funny way, since the bar is manned by some really old dude. There are tables and ample nuts in saucers. There is a dancing Santa doll and a holiday mural sprayed onto the mirror on the wall opposite the bar. Good stuff.

That is all.

December 11, 2003

"And the truth is I don't mind, but I miss you all the time." - Milwaukee

What up. This is the kind of stuff that really fascinates me, perhaps because I have only an elementary understanding of such matters, and what I don't understand seems like magic or mysticism.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am really enjoying the latest installment at Last Plane to Jakarta, since having cool people tell me about what records are good or bad and why is one of my favorite things. While this is basically what my blog is all about, I am going to try to do more entries like it. I may even eventually get my own top-level domain. I have scoped out, and it is available. Extra bonus points to anyone who can tell me where the name came from. Not that I don't know. OK, this is a stupid idea...

Launchcast served up Duran Duran's cover of "White Lines" to me this afternoon and I have to say it is likely the best thing they ever did. Not to discount the amazing pop they churned out in the early 80s (c'mon, admit it). But to blaze their comeback trail with this cover, which is sprinkled with touches of good-period Ministry production, was genius.

I was thinking about my friend Chuck the other day, due to the appearance of Lagwagon's "Violins" on Launchcast, and that made me do a little quick research to see if I can get my hands on Superconductor's "The Strip Oracle" on CD -- a favorite of the WesRadio gang and Charles. I didn't turn up anything definitive re: getting the song on CD, but I found this relatively informative article about the act.

Kudos to Dahlia, she is on the cover of a glossy mag in Berlin that covers the nightlife and new music. The chick is in town for like a month and she is already a name. Hot damn.

Just got a couple promos in the mail for Junkmedia, which is promising to come out of hibernation in January. I scored the latest Chris Brokaw solo joint, which is very spare and touts what to me is a disappointing reading on "Shoot Me First," which to me is the crown jewel of Come's "Near Life Experience." The acoustic treatment is just too delicate for the song in my opinion.

Well, that's about all. Here are some things that are still rocking me:

Mendoza Line: Lost In Revelry
Neil Young: Decade
Come: Don't Ask Don't Tell
Ride: Nowhere
Interpol: the single with "The Specialist" on it.

That is all.

December 7, 2003

"i don't want to tell you what you want to know, i don't want to tell you at all." - ride

Best Software Review Ever -- Submitted to Amazon for MS Office Student/Teacher Edition:

Feh. This means you have to do work, December 4, 2003
Reviewer: Great Cthulhu (see more about me) from Sunken R'lyeh

When will people figure out that if they don't buy this stuff, they don't have to do work? If you get just the operating system, you have WordPad, which is trouble enough, but you can get your typing done in time to fire up a web browser and do some SERIOUS surfing. Get office software like a spreadsheet or powerpoint, and you cut way into your surfing time with the curse of the drinking classes: work.
It's not all bad, though. You can uninstall it easily and then scratch the CD real bad so it won't install again. Then when anybody asks you to work again, just show the damaged CD and say you're waiting on the replacement, shrug your shoulders, and get back to your online gambling habit.

Anyhoo, I thought that was pretty comical. Had some good times over the last few days, firstly with The Good Doctor, Herr Koo Marr, Cable Elk, Logie, Wazzon, Sizable Headphones Douglass and posse at the MOS Friday night. Good times rappin' about important stuff like Beatallica, home video projects, city-provided childcare and all manner of stuff. Saturday was International Rob Mathews Day and we celebrated through the blizzard with an assortment of activities including Go Kart Racing at a track I beleive is partially owned by the bass player for Aerosmith (H-Dog won; WHMJR provided instrumental logistical support throughout and came in second to boot). We also dined at Bettie's Wok and Noodle and covered topics ranging from The OC to the sale of (well, the domain anyway) to CNET. Snow swirled about and piled up all day. It was crazy. Today we stayed in and did stuff round the house, including burning CDs with the new computer (now a 14-minute process instead of a 60-minute one) and watching the Eagles and Pats. Of course, there is more I would like to cover, but Alias is about to fire up on the JVC Television Receiver situated in our front room and I need to go sit in front of the unit and focus my eyes on the "picture" "tube" or some reasonable facsimile thereof. That is all.

December 2, 2003

"there is snow covering your blanket, you wish you could love the loving." - idaho

If nothing else, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have/had one of the best band names ever. This is what I was thinking after a mediocre cover band chased me, Lopez, Tito, Woods, Grellan and PFC out of the Berwyn Tavern Friday night. We had settled in to reflect on our good fortune but these jamokes fired up their brand of lame rock and so we headed to the Beef and Crotch over West Wayne way. Good times. Thanksgiving on the whole was pleasing, marked by a greater proportion of family time and one-on-one hanging out time with aforementioned buddies and other miscreants including Luka Brasi and Toshio. Speaking of Brasi, he saw fit to give me a ring Sunday eve after me and Lopez returned to indicate 1) that he was liquored up from watching the Eagles game at a friend's place and 2) he had had earlier in the day a quasi-religious experience eating a Krispy Kreme donut fresh out of the oven, supplied to him at no cost by the hole jerk at the KK shop drug dealer-style.

Some other points from the past week:

1. VU's White Light/White Heat received three plays in a row on the car trip back to MA. The record just keeps on giving. Very electric, even tho it was recorded with about the same quality as some of the so-called lo-fi rock on 10 years ago. Christ, even less.

2. I don't often find much reason to say anything nice about the programming transmitted to us over the television (think about the term programming for a moment, why don't you, and consider the Orwellian implications), but I thought the most recent episode of Alias, the flesh-filled Jennifer Garner vehicle on the American Broadcasting Corporation network Sundays, was quite well done. Wierdo David Cronenberg guested and the episode dealt with a lot of dream/memory sequences that were pretty neat and tidily laced into the plot. The goodness of it was almost on par with Twin Peaks stuff.

3. I am posting from the old computer, tho we received the new one Monday. The new one is hot stuff, sooper fast. But I couldn't get out AT&T account to work with the modem for it. So balls to you American Telephone and Telegraph, I just signed up for broadband with Comcast, a good old Philadelphia-based company. So this is an alert to the faithful out there that Lopez and I will be rocking Comcast addresses before the year ticks down. Beware.

4. There is much more, but the house is a wreck, so I will save some musings for another evening this week. That is all.

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.

October 27, 2003

"ain't lost yet so I gotta be a winner" - the replacements

Yesterday seems to be the official opening of the season of hype for the new Strokes record, something I am looking forward to myself. My homey Drew Katchen has a solid review at Ye Olde, which takes much the same position as the Joan Anderman joint in the Globe over the weekend. Still waiting on a Pinback and Four Tet record in the mail from Amazon, too. It will be a big month for music methinks.

I saw the new Katie Holmes vehicle Pieces of April over the weekend and I can report that it is not utter shit. I was expecting nothing good, and this movie was solidly above average, which was a very pleasant surprise. We took in an early show Saturday evening and were back in the hood with ample time to dine and then foot it over to see the Mobius Band play Middle East Upstairs. They played a good set - I can't help but feel like the energy of their shows from last spring has waned. I think once they finally make the move to New York, tho, they are ready to hyperspace their career, and hopefully writing.

It occurred to me as I was walking back to work from the dentist the other day that my music obsession has caused me to price everything in terms of CDs. I am getting a gold filling next month that is going to cost me about 46 CDs, even with insurance kicking in their share. But hey, if you don't have your teeth what do you really have?

Caught the Chiefs shellacking of the Bills Sunday evening with H-Dawg from Accounts Receivable and Logie. Fun game to watch, if a little lopsided. Well, more than a little. Well, that is about all.

October 25, 2003

"Bring back the weight, tell the truth." - September 67
A little update to the bar to the left: avail yourself of the fine Launchcast stations noted, programmed by your humble servant and herr kew-mahr. That is all.

October 22, 2003

"And I'm walking out from between parked cars with my head full of stars." - elliot smith

I would feel negligent not to mark the passing of Elliot Smith, whose number "St. Ides Heaven" is one of my very favorites. His death is sad. Note to live-in girlfriend who found Smith's body, which apparently was sporting a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest: don't leave this guy home alone with the cutlery. Oh well. The self-titled album is superlative, as is Either/Or. I will have to give them some spins this week.

Speaking of spins, is there a legit release of Iron & Wine's cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights"? I caught the number on the radio on Monday and it really got under my skin. Really good stuff. That's all for now.

October 21, 2003

"Maybe it's better if we can't remember." - Whorl

Just when it appeared all the blogging genes skewed to his younger sibling, it appears Logie has struck back with a few entries I stumbled across today. Nothing I didn't know, of course, but it is not what you say, just how you say it. CRM's is getting pretty cool, too.

Harris Newman, part of the cadre of mid '90s indie rock acts in Montreal, today released a CD of solo guitar stuff apparently influenced by John Fahey, who I don't really know anything about. But it is cool to see someone from the old days still making records. During my one trip to Montreal about 8 years ago I met Mr. Newman, a stand-up fellow. I have seen his name in relation to mastering on some CDs as of late, I think, too. Anyhoo, I will check the CD out at some point and report back.

I probably haven't emphasised to most of you how awesome I think Yo La Tengo's song "Blue Line Swinger" is. I will have to try harder.

So Interpol... a real solid show. I am having trouble getting in the mood to reconstruct my critique of the show, but I will pass on that the band was just going through the motions for the first three or four songs, but when they hit that first rocking number the synapses started to snap and the rock began to flow. The band played probably all of Bright Lights, and maybe some of the other singles. I was pretty disappointed that they didn't play "The Specialist," which is their best jam. Oh well. Seeing the performance made me think alot about how I used to think that what I was looking for in performers was an "authentic" experience (whatever that means). In actuality, I think the right word is "earnest." And at first Interpol wasn't earnest, they were reading their lines and striking their poses. But it finally kicked in, and the material poured out like an inevitable dam burst. I will spare openers Elefant the slings and arrows of my horible opinion of their singer, and just say that I was interested in learning more about the band, until I did. I am no longer interested.

Got the first promo in a long while in the mail for a local act The Collisions. We'll see how that is. The Mobius Band is playing this Saturday at the Middle East, unfortunately I will be out of town yet again.

Some guy on the radio just referred to his crappy rural New York state Internet service as a "wood-burning ISP," which is pretty darn funny if you ask me. Waiting to hear Mobius playing on Pipeline on WMBR in a half hour. Gonna tape it. That is all.

October 18, 2003

"President Gas is President Gas again." - Psychedelic Furs
Troy is selling rare, out-of-print jazz titles and the issue of McSweeney's I really, really want. I bid it up to like $60, but figured anything more than that is tomfoolery. Saw Interpol last night with Housh and his cool friend Jodie Lee, the self-described meanest elementary school art teacher ever. The band was great, almost too good. More later.

October 13, 2003

"All I'm left to do is play bumper pool and go out to the garage to get drunk." - barnabys

So the cord is almost cut, and here is where the warm pants will now officially preside full time -- all that is to say that I am giving up the old site and getting down with the econo style of Blizznogger. It was inspired by similar departures to this service by the worlds of Bleach and Dahlilililah, and of course by ease of use.

Also this evening I was experiencing those old fall feelings that life is getting away from you, prompted by a couple spins of the Barnaby's 1993 effort 'Augustus Loop.' From the vantage point a decade of music listening has given me, this is actually a tepid work. 18 tracks that could have easily been cut to make a stronger 9 song statement. "Losers from Rodman Street," "Borders," "Punk Rock Love" and "Yeah Whatever" still kind of hold up because of the good songwriting, but ultimately the Joey Sweeney solo work is so strong that the delicate production and innocent songs here seem tame. Unfortunately, no real record of the strongest, rockinest Joey Sweeney solo incarnation exists. I speak of the trio of Sweeney backed by drum messiah Rob V (Haywood, Red and The Black, Cherubino) and basshead Brian McShane. That trio was together for maybe a little over a year, post Sweeney's "Heartache Baseball," and was balls to the wall rock, with the rhythm section like fist in glove and Sweeney hollerin, sweatin and pushin up his glasses in between slams on his Gibson SG. The trio recorded a never released record called "Girls High," but came apart after Sweeney did a little playing on the side with Alex Kemp and Haywood officially reformed for what is considered their Golden Era, the late Philly and New York years. McShane went on to some success in the Philly adult alternative scene with an eponymous band comprised of various members of his family.

The point of this long diversion is that it struck me as I was listening to Barnabys that I have come to the realization that I may actually never like any new music the way I like the music of the mid-'90s Philly scene, particularly the acts whose members I was close with. I guess the real realization is two-fold: That shit is never coming back, and the reason I love it so much is because there was some reflected glory in that the music was by "us" and for "us," it was about our lives. When Barnabys sing about the Losers from Rodman Street, I know he is talking about the guys in the band Dandelion (or at least that is what I heard); when Ted Haywood sings about looking for your car on the expressway every time he gets up, I know he is singing about the Schuylkill Expressway which bisected his walk between his apartment and Penn. That is all.

October 7, 2003

"I'm OK how are you thanks for asking, thanks for asking." - radiohead

Work hours have slackened this week, finally, and as I had suspected they would. I actually just went to the gym, beleive it or not, and cooked a meal in my own kitchen. I feel so fortunate, and sort of guilty, cause Lopez is at trial and basically working around the clock. I go up on weekends to help out and visit. It will be pretty much like this until December. Thanks must be extended to Herr Upright for providing me with the live Pink Floyd disc I had been seeking, as well as a pretty nifty trance mix of Wish You Were Here. The latter is decent, though in some tunes it doesn't sound like the canned beats match up with the rhythm of the songs. I will have to give the thing headphones treatment when I am working at the trial site this weekend. Today we recognize the birthdays of Mr. Upright, Mr. Kizzumahhhh and Il Consulliere. It is Fall 2003, which means that I have been writing music for about ten years now. I've been listening to a lot of the old stuff recently and am sort of torn about how you work hard on writing the stuff, particularly the words, and then they never get heard again. So occasionally from now on I am going to tell you about a song I wrote and transcribe the lyrics. It will give me something to do. A song I have been thinking about a bit lately is called "Into the Russian Winter." The Small Hours played it for a while in 2000. I wrote the words about my friend Mr. Obb, as he had just previously revealed he had written a song about me and my life at the time I first took up my current occupation -- I think returning to the occupation and a subsequent conversation with Obb called this song back into my mind. Obb is big on wordplay, hopefully you will recognize some of that here. It is probably worth noting that the song references a rough patch in the life of the protagonist, when he worked the night shift at a nuclear power plant. So here is "Into the Russian Winter," a title Obb came up with the first time the Small Hours played Plymouth State College.

"I know I.M. Pei and you ain't no I.M. Pei
You're much too stupid to be thought of in that way
You pushed too far into the snow
Into the Russian Winter
Like that was the only way to go about doing this
You pushed too far, breathing hard
It's a monument to what you aren't doing now
That I know
Now you're turning red, Now you're turning gold
Now you're turning brown, and around and around and around

Broken by the dozens so you must
Replace the mirrors you've been in again, I feared
Industrial energy, till you burned it clean
Did you say what you mean?
Or did you mean what you said?
Is it too late to go back to Baltimore?
You pushed too far, breathing hard
It's a monument to what you aren't doing now
That I know
Now you're turning red, no longer burning coal
Turbine spinning around, and around and around and around."

One last note: despite my best efforts, I somehow managed to win H-Dog's office football pool this week. Rest assured that the winning will buy me some rock and roll records. That is all.

September 28, 2003

Last night, like so many nights before, I did not go see Pilot to Gunner. I really need to buckle down and see them again. Instead I minded my own business drinking Carlsbergs at JJ Foleys down town. Their jukebox, among the top in the city in my opinion, is broken. This is sad, in a rented hatchback, as Haywood used to say. I also found myself yesterday minding my own business in the Target Greatland (i.e. we paved over a wetland to make walls for all the shit we got in here) commercial retail establishment, where, like many other big-box retailers, they sell many cds for just $10. This led to my purchase of Hot Hot Heat's Make Up the Breakdown and The Streets' Original Pirate Material for the knavely sum of $20. The former platter is air-tight synth-rock, an updated take on the pop chicanery of one-time Costello tour support The Yachts, whose S.O.S. was revealed to El Woodrow and myself by the uber-cool Joe McInally when we were still whelps in high school. Anyhoo, both records, the latter in particular having already been widely lauded in the press last year, get an enthusiastic thumbs up from me. There is evidently all manner of crazy music going on in London these days. I particularly like the Streets' effort because it is quite spare, the rhymes, delivered in a heavy cockney, are given a lot of room. The overall effect is eery, evoking images of London clubs winding down in the wee hours. So go out to Target and get that stuff on the cheap. I am returning to a regular record shopping schedule, and have yet to note any decrease in prices pursuant to the UMG announcement of earlier this month. But I eagerly await it. Perhaps prices can drop in time for 10/7, when the new Belle and Sebastien, Strokes and Death Cab for Cutie will all be in the racks taunting my otherwise parsimonious nature. A slow Sunday otherwise. A big pile of dishes, Thank You cards by the score needing to be written. One final point of interest. I have begun to colocate these missives at in preparation to a full switchover at some point, presuming I can finally break free from my financial ties to AT+T. While the contextual material from this site is lacking, there is a current list of things that I like to read, including, a site Mssr. Brighaaaaaaaaaam turned me on to recently. That is all.

September 21, 2003

Lopez just bought an expensive chair at retail. I don't know why, but that is sort of amuzing to me. Perhaps because, thank God, it ain't my money. Listening to the rereleased version of "The Clash," real good stuff. Writing this here now to see if it is just that much easier than using the AT&T joint. Seems like it is. I have to shill out $50 a year if I want to include all the old clicky clicky content under one URL. That seems dumb. It would be nice to have a photo or two though. Carbon Leaf was totally on last night and the place was packed and the crowd was amped. Sort of exciting. That is all.
Co-locating and eventually replacing clicky clicky since Fall 2003. Here come the warm pants.