Friday, April 28, 2006

Woe Is a Me Bop

I'm not a paid shill for eMusic, but I've been their customer for over a year, and I check their "Freshly Ripped" section obsessively to see what's new there. They've just added the Captain Beefheart rarities set, Grow Fins (all five discs and fifty-five tracks). It would cost you about $14 to download the whole freaky thing. You wouldn't get the package or the liner notes, but it's still a good deal. If you're not a member, you can sign up and get 50 legal, CD-quality mp3's for free. That's almost all of Grow Fins right there. Tell them I'm your friend and I'll get more mp3's too. You know I need more music, my friend. It was my birthday just last week -- what a wonderful way to say how much you love me, baby!

eMusic also added over 75 albums from the Damaged Goods label, which means lots of Billy Childish and related groups, plus the minor punk classic "I Can't Come" by the Snivelling Shits. Scope out the Damaged Goods here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Stomping with Barrence

Man, check out the lineup for the fifth annual Ponderosa Stomp, coming up early next month. They even moved the dadgum thing to Memphis because of the hurricane in Nawlins (and they will be raising money for Katrina victims). I could get there in less than a day... if I was going, that is. The Stomp moves to Number One on the list of things I'd do if I weren't a married feller with small chirrens. (Number Two, as ever, is "two chicks at once".)

Last year's Ponderosa Stomp was hosted by Barrence Whitfield. I love me some Barrence. Here are a few songs from his first two albums with the Savages.

"Bip Bop Bip" is a blazing cover of the Don Covay classic.

"Georgia Slop" was written by Jimmy McCracklin. I think Los Lobos learned this song from the Savages' version.

"Breadbox" is a frantic original written by Savages bassist Phil Lenker, with a terrific guitar solo by Peter Greenberg.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

One Less Blog in the Sphere (Sweet Jebus)

It saddens me when one of my favorite mp3 blogs ends. I still get mysty eyed when I think about the late great Mystical Beast. Last week I drafted a post asking for a moment of virtual silence to observe the passing of Fred Solinger's blog, Vain, Selfish and Lazy. I'm happy to learn that Fred has reconsidered his retirement. He has apparently suffered a significant loss in his personal life, which he declines to describe specifically. Despite his grief, or perhaps because of it, his writing has become sharper and stronger.

Maintaining a blog is a lot of work for little reward (for most of us, anyway). For myself, the comments make it worthwhile: I love hearing from people who are excited about the music that excites me. Fred posts prodigiously despite few comments from visitors. He doesn't try to promote himself by posting advance tracks from hip upcoming releases. He writes engagingly and well about a variety of music, new and old, as well as literature. If you haven't visited Vain, Selfish and Lazy, please do.

I don't know Fred personally, but I've been reading his blog for months. I don't think he would enjoy today's song, but I'm sure Dana (the late Mystical Beast) would dig it. Are you lurking out there somewhere, Dana? I bet Neal from Blank Crisis will remember hearing this song on Album 88. Echo Is Your Love is a band from Finland. When I heard "A Song for Sea Scouts" on the radio, I thought the singer was Japanese. This song sounds to me like a jam session between Sonic Youth and Cibo Matto. Echo Is Your Love has a new record coming out in May, and they will be starting their US tour in Atlanta (at Lenny's) on May 15!

Echo Is Your Love: A Song for Sea Scouts

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Meine Vierzig Geburtstag

Today's my birthday... and Hitler's! Those of us born on 4/20 are now reminded of that sad coincidence annually with news items on each anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

On a MUCH lighter note, here are a birthday song and a party song. I dedicate today's post to my cousin Anita. Like me, she was born on a cusp. And now she lives on the cusp between Red Hook and Cobble Hill. Great to see you again, Nita!

Concrete Blond: Happy Birthday

Toots and the Maytals: Having a Party

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My Next CD Purchase (and My Last One)

The new Buzzcocks record, Flat-Pack Philosophy, seems to be getting great reviews everywhere. I'm looking forward to hearing it. Here's a classic Steve Diggle song from 1981 that's been keeping harmony in my head lately.

Here's hoping that other record companies will take note of the great job that Too Pure Records did with the new McLusky career retrospective, McLuskyism. It presents a wonderful solution to the problem of offering an overview to latecomers who want to hear the hits (disc one, which can be purchased separately), AND it satisfies the hardcore fan with discs two and three, which compile rare songs, live stuff, and video footage. The whole three disc set lists for $15. For that price, I could give away the first disc (thus spreading the gospel of McLuskyism), and I'd still be satisfied with my purchase.

Buzzcocks: Running Free

Monday, April 17, 2006

Damn Right, He'll Rise Again

It wasn't until this morning, the day after Easter, that I thought to post this song. Day late, dollar short. Maybe I'm less likely to go to hell now. Anyway, the chorus of this song represents the most bizarre use of religious language as a sexual double entendre that I've ever heard. If you are a Christian and are easily offended, you may want to pass on this song. For the rest of us unwashed heathens, it's purely sacrelicious.

The Gentlemen are a Boston band composed of three-fourths of the Gravel Pit plus Mike Gent from the Figgs. "He Is Risen" is from their second album, Blondes Prefer the Gentlemen. Lucky Jackson wrote and sang this one, so blame him. I'm working on a post about the Figgs, so don't touch that dial.

The Gentlemen: He Is Risen

Buy music by The Gentlemen

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Traumatic Tales of Insobriety

Just got back from Brooklyn. Saw the Hold Steady at Warsaw with my friends Paula and Chris. The show was great. If I understood Craig Finn correctly, they are going into the studio in a couple weeks to record their next album. He introduced one new song by explaining that it was about John Berryman, the poet who committed suicide by jumping from a bridge into the Mississippi River (a body of water that plays an important role in Craig Finn's lyrics). Craig talked about Berryman's poetry, and how he struggled to maintain sobriety. There's another new Hold Steady song called "Curves and Nerves" on their Myspace page. Thanks to Gregor at Captain's Dead for posting the link!

I felt affirmed on many levels by the Hold Steady show. As a band, they show by example that it's OK to be literate, and it's OK to be from the midwest. It's OK to rock out when you're forty years old, bespectacled and slightly paunchy. And it's OK to still have a taste for arena rock. You can represent all of those unhip things and still rock a club full of hipsters in Brooklyn. I guess I needed to know that.

What else did I do in New York? I sang karaoke at the Hope & Anchor in Red Hook (where my 10 year old son saw a transvestite for the first time! Holla, Ms. Dropsy!) I saw the Upright Citizens Brigade perform at their theater. Ate pizza at Grimaldi's and Totonno's. Drank at the Park Slope Brewery. Visited Coney Island on the opening day of the Cyclone, and saw the Hungry Marching Band and the Brooklyn Polar Bear Club emerging from the sea to the boardwalk. Took my son to Central Park, Nintendo World, the Museum of Natural History, and the Museum of the Moving Image. Chris and Val, you are the perfect hosts.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bedtime for Chinese Democracy?

Upon learning that Paul, Chris and Tommy have recorded two new songs to appear on a Replacements compilation, several questions leapt to my mind. First and foremost, did Tommy get a permission slip signed by Axl? Was Slim Dunlap busy (and if so, with WHAT?) Were there tense or awkward moments for Chris Mars ("Hey guys, sorry about that 75% Less Fat thing...")? Does this recording session session open the door for a Replacements reunion? And if there's one foot in that door, shouldn't we close it firmly and walk away? For those involved, I guess it beats picking cotton and waiting to be forgotten.

(Let me just say here that I have MUCH LOVE for the music of the Replacements, but I prefer my memories the way they were, and I'd rather see the long-rumored box set of rarities than another compilation of previously released material.)

The Woggles: Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out (from an Athens tribute)
You Am I: White and Lazy (from an Aussie tribute)

Monday, April 03, 2006

America Sleeps on Walkabouts

Some bands are more popular in another part of the world than in their own country. Critics refer to this as the "big in Japan" phenomenon. A perfect example is Magnapop, whose popularity in Scandinavia I wrote about last month. Another American band that seems to be bigger in Europe than here in the States is the Walkabouts. They were an Americana band when the rest of Seattle was grunge. After a number of albums on Sub Pop, their records of the past ten years haven't been released in the US at all. They've made albums both spartan (Ended Up a Stranger) and lush (Nighttown), and something about them seems to appeal to European sensibilities. Their influences include Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, and Scott Walker, as well as classic country artists such as George Jones and Hank Williams.

I didn't see the Walkabouts' latest album, Acetylene, on anyone's best of list for 2005. It's a harder-edged record than some of the band's earlier recordings, and some of the songs where Chris and Carla sing in unison sound like a more mature Pixies. The feedback-laden crescendo of the last track made me think of another American band that was well-regarded in Europe, Thin White Rope. Chris Eckman said of writing Acetylene's songs, "I wondered what it would have been like if Neil Young had stopped by Wire's rehearsal space, sometime in 1977?" Acetylene has the taut energy of early Wire (though not the economy or unconventional structures of Wire songs).

Today's songs come from the 1997 Nighttown album, which was only released in Germany. It's an amazing record from start to finish, and was recorded in Europe with the Warsaw Philharmonic. Maybe the Walkabouts' music is too grown up for American listeners. There's a great Walkabouts fan site with an mp3 from Acetylene, and a thoroughly annotated discography. You can buy Acetylene here or from eMusic.

The Walkabouts: Tremble (Goes the Night)