Friday, January 27, 2006

...Or one of these days you'll be made to cry

REV. A. JOHNSON "Let That Liar Pass On By"

Here is my favorite version of this great tune, posted here in reference to the media's obsession with James Frey. Frey is certainly old news by now, but I did start this post a week ago and then I got side-tracked with stuff: a nasty cold, packing up YETIs after the power of Pitchfork compelled hundreds of kids to order it instantly just based on a little news blurb on their site the other day, trying to make some $$, and curating/ hanging that art show which opens later on tonight and has now swollen to have 24 artists and well over a hundred pieces -- it's kind of crazy. I'll post pictures if I can figure out how to.

The fake Frey controversy does remind me of a common affliction in "the rooms" that we might term "bottom envy." I've had friends over the years state repeatedly that they were "only addicted to---(insert the name of drug less 'hard' than heroin)" or how they "never lost all their possessions and wound up homeless," but they still hit bottom... And I've always felt there should be no need for such qualifications, ever. No one's going to twelve-step meetings for the coffee; if you're there, you're there. It just doesn't matter how macho the war stories you swap over coffee afterwards are. If you had to quit 'cause you thought you might lose your job you are fundamentally no different, when it comes to recovery, from your friend who quit because they were a male crack whore who lost both their legs and had their kids taken away and did four years upstate. This is a beautiful thing, and it teaches you a lot about empathy, among other things.

And one of the myriad rad things about recovery is that we're all there just for one reason only, that we desire to stop using/ drinking/ eating/ whatever-ing. It's a deeply level field, profoundly level, 'cause all it ever takes is one slip to be back in the same place you were before you first walked into that weird, unmarked room in the corner of a church. I understand that Frey, in his multimillion-selling non-non-fiction novel, states that he is not down with twelve-step programs, feeling that they're just another addiction, or words to that effect. And fair enough for him -- even if that were true, I'd gladly take meetings over dope, if only 'cause they're free and the girls a lot better looking.

Seems to me that Frey likely heard some good stories at meetings or in group therapy and simply copped them, maybe 'cause he felt as if his own experiences were not "real" enough. Which is a shame, 'cause I feel that there's a great myth that in order to get clean and sober you have to end up as I did --crazy, homeless, penniless, etc.-- before you finally are willing to try anything to stop using. I'd love to read a great addiction memoir that tells the story in less an after-school special way. Besides, Cain's Book has already been written! No one is ever going to trump that one when it comes to the utter dispassion (is that a word?) and savage boredom of the junkie life.

The Frey thing makes me sad, and it's just another distraction from very important things going on today -- like how lame the Pazz & Jop poll results are!

I didn't end up submitting quotes, because I found myself writing only to try to impress other critics, but I realized after thinking about it that I mostly just don't care about other critics anymore. There are maybe five superlative music writers working today and we all know who they are. That's it. Only maybe five. (I am certainly not one of them, nor do I care to be: I'm way too scatter-brained, not obsessive enough about only-music, or writing about it anyway, so I'll never fully excel at it. I'm not that good a writer, and am too lazy to be a good reporter. I am late with copy more often than I'd like. Basically, I'm sometimes a hack, and at other times a fanboy. I can't write a "think piece" for shit. I'm pretty damn good at interviews, though I tend to talk over whomever I interview. I'm pretty good at describing how stuff sounds or what it feels like to be ridiculously psyched about something. And I'm a better editor than I am a writer.) OK, glad we're all clear about where I stand, or rather don't stand!

Has anyone ever read Macunaíma? I think it might be pretty great, though I've just started it...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Twin prizes waiting for the sun

39 CLOCKS, "Stupid Art"

Ugh. Much to moan about today. Car trouble, sickie sickness. Missed the going away party for my pal Beth in Seattle, and then there's this near-constant rain here in PDX. I can't even order mochas anymore either! And I'm behind with everything. Whatever, enough emo BS. This song is already helping me feel better. It goes very nicely with the rain, and my headache.

If you live in Portland and are out and about next Thursday (you know, "first Thursday," when all the art openings happen downtown) please do drop by this shindig:

YUMMY FUR: A YETI Magazine Group Show
Opening February 2nd, Groundhogs Day, at Valentines, all night long (within reason)

Kevin Arrow (Miami, FL)
Julianna Bright (Portland, OR)
Claudia Brown (Portland, OR)
Mark Dwinell (Brooklyn, NY)
E-Rock (Portland, OR)
Alan Greenberg (Portland, OR)
Liz Haley (Portland, OR)
Chris Johanson (Portland, OR)
Josh Kermite (Portland, OR)
Robert McCormack (Madison, NJ)
Jason Miles (Seattle, WA)
Tara Jane O'Neill (Portland, OR)
Lucy Raven (Brooklyn, NY)
Alisyn Smith (Portland, OR)
Marian St. Laurent (Brooklyn, NY)
Gretchen Vaudt (Portland, OR)

Rad tunes all night provided by DJ Yeti, aka Mike McGonigal, who curated the show.

The premise of YUMMY FUR is really simple; it's just art by people that are or will be (or anyway should be) featured in YETI magazine. YETI is an internationally-distributed, book-bound arts 'zine based in Portland, Oregon. The magazine has been praised by the New York Times, Village VOICE, Seattle Weekly, and the Stranger, plus the record shops Rough Trade, Other Music, Insound and Aquarius. "Strangely esoteric but also eminently readable," Aquarius said about it. That was nice of them.

There will be lots of drawings and photography, plus paintings and collage and a smattering of sculpture, too. The show will be hung salon style, with images piled totally on top of each other. It might look like a mess to some people but it's going to be a glorious mess. Really. A small selection of art from the curator's personal collection will be hung in a corner of the space. The show will run from February 2 - 26.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Holding me down

FLY ASHTRAY "Rapscallion"

Proving the old adage that inside every middle aged man there's a teenage girl (and I don't mean that literally) I have to admit to being something of a MySpace addict at times, which is insanely dorky I know. But I have reconnected with some old friends on that thing, as well as been exposed to some really good music in addition to the expected emo-pap. (PS: Add me!!!!!)

Today I got a myspace friendster request from Fly Ashtray, a band who, in my first failed attempt at having a record label, I put out a CD (via Shimmy Disc) of theirs plus a 7" (via the band so it wasn't really like it was "my" release but the logo, that Redon eyeball/ balloon drawing, looked awesome on the label of the single). Damn, horrible sentence construction there.

Listening to their new-ish songs on their myspace page, I was surprised at how great their new material is -- not very different from their old stuff, but you don't always expect bands to be good after being around for twenty-three years. Sometimes toiling in obscurity can do wonders for your output. Speaking of which, Fly Ashtray's a band that would seriously benefit from a deft compilation disc, since the one thing they allways seemed to lack is an editorial impulse; some of the tunes they put out on their packed to thegills records were so awful you couldn't believe it. Sort of endearingly awful, but awful nonetheless.

This song here, "Rapscallion," it has so many hallmarks of F.A., maybe that's why I like it so. Successive layerings of guitar, guitar and bass, all following the same rhythm and melody, a bit staggered from each other on purpose; Kavoussi's pleasant voice buried almost entirely in the mix; drums that sound like cardboard; demented surf elements; and a lot of weird little almost-hidden obsessive stuff that starts to pop out after a few listens. Eptness and ineptitude co-exist so wonderfully with this band. They did the too-short-and-very-Beatley-but-fucked-up song thing well before anyone had heard GBV outside of Dayton. And they continue to do it today, rather well. Rejoice, and stuff.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Gonna eat at the welcome table some of these days

THE CARTER FAMILY "River of Jordan"

You've probably already heard that Janette Carter, the last surviving child of Sara and A.P. of the Carter Family, passed away at 82 on Sunday, in her Kingsport, Tennessee home.

"Until recently she gave concerts each Saturday. She played autoharp."

Monday, January 23, 2006

In the city of Bethlehem

THE SUNSET FOUR "Oh Lord, What A Morning (take one)"

Not to be confused with the Bessemer Sunset Four, the Sunset Four recorded a bakers' dozen tunes in the 1920s. They can be found on the Document disc Black Vocal Groups Vol. 1, 1924-1930. They do get crazy a bit on that collection, especially the song where they mimic a calliope. This tune is slow, sweet and very olde schoole.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I was sick and I couldn't get well

BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON "I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole"

For some reason, this song has come up in conversation with a frequency that's startlingly high even amongst record-obsessed dorks the last few weeks, not to mention that it keeps popping up on my "random" iTunes setting, and otherwise creeping into my life in almost-creepy ways.

I may have even posted this before, but here it is. Let's just go ahead and make it a chain letter type of thing. So, pass it along to ten friends before you get hit by a truck!

Later this week, we'll upload something very special for fans of the great Rev. Louis Overstreet, fyi.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Reading rainbow

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ring like bells, ring like bells

THE LOFT "Why Does the Rain"

As a doughy teen who'd smashed his sister's car up within two weeks of getting my license in 1984, I was left to getting around everywhere on my bike, a silver Schwinn ten-speed that I was given when I turned twelve and which was a large part in why I didn't get laid until I was nineteen. What kid who rides his bike to school in the suburbs gets laid? Not me, anyway.

Thankfully, this car smash business happened in suburban Miami, in a part of Coral Gables that was then still sort of middle class but twenty years later consists mostly of these heinous gated communities. (Developers do not fuck around down there -- where my Moms lives now was naught but marsh land twenty years ago.) A series of paved bike paths snaked through my neighborhood, and though the eternally coked-up and speed-addled drivers of South Florida could care less to even look for bicyclists, there were enough back roads to go down so I only got hit by a car once.

Sometimes I used a walkman but I'd duck-taped a slimline boombox to the groin injury bar thingie of the bike, and that provided the all-important soundtrack. Several times a week, I'd ride about five miles each way to Yesterday & Today Records to see what new stuff had come in, to read through the NME and Melody Maker to find out about new music and keep up on very British acts I was infatuated with like Yeah Yeah Noh, the Pastels, June Brides, Shop Assistants, We've Got a Fuzzbox & We're Gonna Use It, Pop Will Eat Itself, the TV Personalities, and the Loft. I was an avid Creation records fan and bought all the singles they released, in order, even the fairly shitty ones by the Jasmine Minks, the Legend! and McGee's own Biff Bang Pow!

With the exception of the first Jesus & Mary Chain singles, which hit me and my friends with such a powerful force (total coolness in the fact that they covered a bootleg Syd Barrett song and that combination of buzzsaw noise with confectioner's grade pop music -- we all asked ourselves how come that had never been done before?! as one generally does when confronted with an act of, yes I'll say it --as a partial ode to the British papers-- total fuckin' genius) nothing else coming out of England at the time impressed me so much as Pete Astor's first band the Loft, who are the subjects of a second, decent-though-anemic compilation album as of a few months ago. eMusic has it, if you want to download the thing for super cheap. They also now have the SST catalog, everything by the Monochrome Set, and more Document stuff all the time (insert disclaimer here). His second band the Weather Prophets (clearly dude was obsessed with precipitation -- they had a song called "She Comes from the Rain") had a few killer songs ("Almost Prayed" chief among 'em). But it is the Loft that I love.

Love, yes I said it, love. So much of what I love is in fact right here in this one sad sack little song! It's mopey and minor keyed and the lyrics are all "woe is me," but beautifully so, perfectly so. I think it's because there's hope in these three and a half minutes, that absolutely cliched Beckett-y, can't go on must go on kind of hope. The song is about feeling helpless, I think that's why I connected to it so much as a 16 year old. The outside world may completely ignore you or worse, the trains keep running on time when you feel so bad 'cause you're so utterly into that girl who'll never talk to you or whatever, when everything should just totally explode, all at once. This is helplessness in a grand sense, a very cinematic helpless and hopelessness, the kind that starts a movie with some startlingly beautiful and sad creature staring out a window on a darkened street.

The song continues to talk to me, beyond the safe and respectably shambling jingle jangle goodness of its sound or the fact that this is my favorite kind of guitar solo -- the kind that's crisp and sing-song-y solo that is almost a new song in and of itself, the kind that in varying degrees you find in Television and the Minutemen and Galaxie 500 and the Velvets and the Urinals and the Swell Maps, the kind that sounds basically the same on record as live but not in a bad way. It's not even that here we find that special combination of groovy melodies and misanthropic lyrics which never ceases to have its way with me. I guess it's that I fear that I've only rarely advanced beyond the emotional and psychological levels of a sixteen year old. Surely my ex-wife would provide a good reference for this.

Back then, when this simple little tune was new, I played it every day over and over again, riding my bicycle along idyllic tree-covered paved paths en route to school or to my part-time record shop job, scowling at the world, which had done me such wrongs as to place me in the depths of paradise. These days I'm more likely to listen to it while I shower, gearing myself up for the day. Is it strange I find such goddamn twee woe-is-me-isms warmly compelling, nourishing even?

Nahhh, I think it's probably the least strange thing about me.

Monday, January 16, 2006

All the way to Washington


Happy MLK Day -- a national holiday actually worth celebrating! I'm sure you're aware that it was Mahalia up there on the podium who urged the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. towards his infamously extemporaneous "dream" speech when she cried out "Tell them about the dream Martin; tell them about the dream!"

In our revisionist history we may impose the sounds of soul hits recorded years later onto images of dogs, firehoses and worse turned onto peaceful marchers, but gospel was of course the soundtrack to the civil rights struggle, going back to the slave era when spirituals such as "Wade in the Water" were sung at specific times to communicate plans for breaking free.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Radical student in satin boots

Over at the uber-rad group blog Moistworks, I've posted five songs by Thirty Nine Clocks, a vaguely anomalous German band from the '80s I'm fairly obsessed with. Hope you enjoy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Grab a reason and I'm dragging you down

MY BLOODY VALENTINE "I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)" (Peel Session 1988)

Today has started out well. I may have no money in the bank but I feel pretty okay about things. Last Gasp asked for another hundred YETIs, and here I am listening to the Swell Maps rather loudly in my Grado SR 80s (official headphone of the OG music editorial crew -- insert sound of bubble bursting here) after an early morning walk with my girl, followed by a strange breakfast of Trader Joe sushi, edamame, and half a pear that's possibly the best pear I have ever eaten, consumed with a few slices of sheep cheese which the little card at Whole Foods said went really well with pears. Say what you will about Whole Foods, they did not lie to us about their cheese. Sorry to get all Bret Easton Ellis there with the naming of my brands there. I didn't even get paid for those endorsements! I paid FOR them.

This is the best sounding version I've found of My Bloody Valentine's Peel Session from '88, when they did four tunes under circumstances they supposedly didn't enjoy, as they were rather hurried through the songs. One imagines Kevin Shields had far less control than he's used to. The band did not return to do another session, though Shields did play on one with the Pastels about seven years later.

MBV have one of the lamest names around, there's no question about it. The moniker was notoriously taken from a campy horror flick by the first singer, that Dave guy, but I like the way the word "blood" is in there. Blood has been on my mind a lot of late. I'm told eventually I'll be put on insulin maintenance, in all likelihood. I did not like hearing that.

Speaking of blood: over the years, I've noticed a big difference in the way you're treated by doctors and especially nurses when you tell them you want to be tested for STDs versus when you get any other bloodwork done. I guess I should just go to Planned Parenthood for testing and avoid this business? I just feel like if you've been sexually active at all you should get tested pretty often, and assume that everyone else does this too so it's not a big deal, that even if you're "safe" and "hetero" you fucking get tested often, right? Then I've got a past history of drug use, so I feel the need to get tested for Hep C every few years 'cause even though I never shared needles thanks to NYC's awesome and thankfully extant policy of harm reduction (which very likely saved my life). But I have had friends have Hepatitis sneak up on 'em years later, you know? I just hate the weird nervous vibe there is when you get tested for this stuff in doctor's offices.

I remember getting a routine HIV test in a small doctor's office in East Tennessee, and the poor nurse was totally shaking while trying to draw my blood, like I was instantly gonna spray her with my vampire juice and dissolve her flesh right there if she didn't do this perfectly, or perhaps she thought I was a robot from the future and it actually was battery acid in my veins and not blood? I think she had three pairs of gloves on and couldn't feel her fingers anymore so naturally she had to jab me and move the needle around a dozen times before she hit the goddamn thing.

It's weird to be in the position of the patient in these situations, and not feel judged a little bit, you know? It's also really uncomfortable as an ex needle freak to sit there getting needled by these big gauged syphons, strapped to a chair. I swear I almost got sick the other day while this was happening, all the little tubes getting filled up with my "juice of life." Ummm, this is both boring and disgusting so I'll shut up now.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

How do you tell if a squirrel is on crack?

FEVEN "Welanureiney"

The only way I'm going to get YETI out more often is to include more people in the editing/ selection process, not to mention in production. And I'm confident I've got this happening now, in a way that will not make it any less "quality." My business partner is real good with layout and I'm very very psyched to be free of trying to design the thing as I am self-taught and not very ept in that field. For the disc, I'm asking a handful of people to come up with roughly a dozen minutes of music. One of those will be a spectacular twelve minute track, other selections will be one minutes apiece. Thus far Phil from Misra, Adam Forkner, Mike Doughty and E*Rock have all agreed to help collect CD submissions, and I'll put about twenty minutes of the thing together myself. Naturally, I'll have veto power. I was gonna ask either my friends at Sublime Frequencies or at CaseQuarter or maybe at Dust to Digital to assist as well. We'll see.

This song here was recorded by Mike Doughty during his recent trip to Ethiopia; the idea is to have a few tunes from his trip on the next YETI CD plus a song of his own. This tune may or may not appear on the next YETI disc. It's by a woman named Feven and I don't know anything yet about her other than I really want to hear more. Will get more info. on her ASAP. Doughty is an awesome cat and I am bummed he is not moving to Portland anytime soon, as he was thinking of doing...

Speaking of travel and friends and stuff (that segue works for me), PDX-based photographer Mike Rubenstein (who took those awesome pics of the Sun City Girls for when I did that Seattle Weekly cover story a year and a half ago) went to Bangladesh recently to take photos of the effects of arsenic poisoning from UN-dug wells there on the local population. All the water there is apparently poisoned; as I understand it, folks can either drink canal water polluted with sewage and die in a few weeks, or drink from the wells and die in fifteen to twenty years.

Slept way too much yesterday, it was really weird but I guess it takes some time to adjust to new medication; today I look up the possible side effects to one of the meds I'm on to get the blood sugar under control and it's right there, "excessive sleepiness" or something like that. I should start looking that kinda shit up before I gobble the pills right? Funny the way doctors and medical indutsry people put stuff, like when I got called by the clinic I got a blood test at a month ago while cutting into some steel with my torch for the first time in months, when they said to get my ass into the ER right away or else I might experience a "cardiac event." Cardiac event! Sounds like a Mille Plateaux act from 1996, esp. if you translate it to German. I didn't feel like having any cardiac events, of course. I'm under forty! Krikey. Weird how the Times is devoting so much space to diabetes this week, and totally helpful to me as there's still so much I don't understand about it yet.

Feeling pretty great today though. Peppy. Maybe I just needed to rest a lot? But, so much to do though, fuck fuck fuck. I need to clone myself a dozen times. Got a decent morning chuckle thanks to this. And the one song I've heard from the next Vetiver album is so great it has me smiling all over, happy like a squirrel on crack who's dug up a really sweet, big-ass stash. Andy says he'll get me a Vetiver song to post here soon, FYI.

Ohh, and Dennis Cooper finally weighs in on the JT LeRoy thing here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I saw the ocean's daughter


(Attention, stalkers:) I'm typing right now from the downtown Stumptown, and I can't friggin wait for Valentines to open as they are playing an early R.E.O. Speedwagon album very loud here (whichever one they actually cover Chuck Berry on, that is the one that it is). There's a sub-bubblegum element to the R.E.O. thing that's almost enjoyable, and believe me I love a TON of bad music. But on the most objective of levels, this shit entirely blows. So, the singer can sing like a castrated speed freak? That doesn't mean he should, you know? Anyway, pardon me for blowing your mind by attacking R.E.O. -- but that's what I do, blow minds.

One of my maxims is that irony should not be mixed with music and with haircuts, but then I remember how much I love Steve Miller and ELO and Def Leppard and Lindsay Lohan in this weird kind of excitement that encompasses both irony and sheer delight. These would seem to be total opposites of course but I guess I encompass multitudes? That must be it.

Which brings me to the topic of this year's Pop Music Studies Conference at the EMP in Seattle. It's "guilty pleasures," a topic I have serious problems with but we probably all do. I missed last year's 'cause I was so crazily low energy and depressed with the undiagnosed and outta control diabetes, but the other years were pretty awesome, much better than you might think even.

Here's my proposal, which might be too fanboy-ish for them but there's a reason I never graduated from school; I'm not much of an academic, at all. I can't do math, either, but I'm not, like, mathist or anything. I have several friends who are good at math!

For this year's Pop Conference, I'd like to present a paper about Electric Light Orchestra's 1977 double album
Out of the Blue. Today, if ELO is renown for anything, it's for writing all the disco songs the Beatles never got around to writing, then slapping sappy string arrangements on top -- and fair enough. Electric Light Orchestra's maxim seemed to be to try and cram as much sound and scope as possible into the conventional pop song. But at their best --and this album is their best-- this ambitious ensemble achieves a certain lumbering, retrofuturist grace.

On OOTB, Lynne dissassembles high-, low-, and middle-brow genres then recombines them in unexpected ways in a manner that kind of foreshadows pop music's modern direction. That bit was a stretch and I know it, but I've got proof, the songs themselves! Lynne's less a "great artist" and more a classic fetishist, so trapped in his lust that he can't see beyond it. Within those confines --addictions to pulp narrative, an obscene Lennon/ McCartney worship, and the misbegotten belief that you can never have too large a string section in your rock band-- he crafted some of pop's grandest and most wonderfully overbaked songs. Here is a classic guilty pleasure of pop, as satisfying as it is pretentious. Plus, it kicks the shit out of the Moody Blues.

PS: Though Out of the Blue happens to be the first album I ever bought with my own money, I will try to refrain from overly nostalgic ruminations.

This ELO tune is of course NOT from OOTB, but it's been one of my favorite songs since I can remember, an obvious and essential little meta-ditty about the power of pop music.

At first I thought this guy Brian Joseph Davis' "top ten banned albums" project was kinda cheesey, and easy, in a way that Christian Marclay is perhaps more capable of getting away with (though of course Marclay's not trying to make any grand political gestures that I'm aware of, and some of his stuff is just really ho-hum though I never see him get anything but accolades.) And jesus christ, let's have a year without any top ten lists of any kind, OK?

The more I stared at them the more I dug the objects, though the real kicker is the sound sample stuff, these edited together sounds of the warped and torched LPs skipping rhythmically and stuff. Not quite Pierre Bastien but I know for certain that the Dead Kennedys have never sounded this good before. As someone who's taken a torch to CDs, melting a stack of 'em at once, I can vouch that this sort of melting music activity is very fun to do (kinda hard on the lungs even with a good mask though). This link arrives via WFMU so you've probably already seen it, but anyway...

seems to be selling very well, as we've already gotten restock orders from two of our biggest distros and when I went by Powells last night to find a new Charles Portis book to read and the new Octavia Butler book (!yes!) I couldn't find any in sight so I assume those have sold as well. Also, the nice reviews from Aquarius, Other Music and Insound have kept me from worrying too much about if people might still give a shit about the project. I have this weird condition whereby I both totally care about what people say/ think, while not caring at all, or pretending not to anyway.

PS: Why have I never seen this movie?

PPS: Our friend Luc, who actually knows French and stuff, weighs in that "a feuilleton, where I come from, just means a serial."

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happening every day

REV. A JOHNSON "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow"
HENRY GREEN "Strange Things"

Loving the fact that so much Document material is available on eMusic; these songs are both from the awesome disc 1950s Gospel Classics. Can't find anything about these performers though; when is the posting of liner notes along with mp3s going to be just the way things are done? (Full disclosure in case you don't know: I write a monthly column for eMusic.) This Henry Green tune is another one to add to the growing list of blues-gospel hybrid tunes from well past the heyday of sanctified blues; it's nice isn't it? Just listened to it nine times in a row.

Spoke with Bilinda Butcher for quite some time yesterday, and she is just the sweetest person; I was half an hour late for brunch with my girlfriend and Austin from the great band Fauna Polly 'cause she just kept talking when I thought it was going to be this awkward twenty minute chat. Spent a lot of time on things that won't be in such detail in the book -- about her kids, and the deal with why there were a dozen chinchillas in My Bloody Valentine's recording studio/ house during the lost years, etc. She sounded remarkably happy and cool, though, and in the last ten years or so she's just been raising her kids and hanging with her boyfriend and doing Spanish dancing.

That's right, Spanish dancing. More juicy details like that in the book. Can't give it all away. You gotta buy the book.

Bilinda is still pals with Kevin, and has hopes to make music with him again someday. I didn't ask if that was really her last name or not as that seemed kind of ridiculous, somehow. It was awesome to get her perspective on what it was like to be in a band where the music was predominantly recorded by one person, then played by the full band, as it sounds like the band were totally cool with that. Of course, Bilinda's style of singing was/is totally original and un-ripoffable and so much of what's great about the band. Plus she could almost do the whammy tremolo guitar playing as well as Kevin onstage.

It's nice to do some things as more of an "adult," like talk to certain people now. When I'd met the band and hung with them a bit during the Loveless tour, I was struck with a total fanboy loss of nerve to say anything more than "hey" to her and Debbie, 'cause they made this insanely sexy music and were cute as hell and they were in my favorite band, you know?

Anyway, I don't know how to segue to this so I won't even try -- the whole JT LeRoy revelation makes me kinda sick to my stomach, especially since I rather liked the books. Especially the first one as it was so Apple Dumpling Gang meets Dennis Cooper. Time to bury your raccoon bones, friends! And thank God you never bought "his" awful-looking Da Capo Guide to the Best Music Writing of 2005 book...

Someone is posting a bunch of rare Nurse With Wound related material, some of it never issued on CD, and that is a very lovely thing deserving of your immediate attention, methinks.

Is the use of the word feuilleton a common thing these days? I guess it should be since mainstream media seems to be getting more and more about short inconsequential fluffy filler type pieces and lists (soon there will be entire movies that are just lists, mark my words). But of course there's a connotation to me of feuilleton with, you know, whimsy, and the last fin de siecle, and groovy stuff like that!: Felix Feneon, Robert Walser, Alphonse Allais... Point is, I actually found some year-end type lists I almost like in the LA Weekly and they called it by that fancy name.

But I probably almost-like it just 'cause of the fancy name. I'm one of those people who buys fancy mineral water at Trader Joe's, after all.

Friday, January 06, 2006

You made a way

PILGRIM TRAVELERS "Jesus, I'm Thankful"

Lou Rawls, RIP. This is a track from the 1950s, when Rawls was in this subdued and smooth band of sweet moaners.

Losing reality, day by day, slightly

Thinking a lot about hypnagogia, since it's notoriously something Kevin Shields was big into around the time of Loveless, as a concept and as a lifestyle. I've spent a good deal of my own life in a sleep-deprived state due to my penchant for being up all night whether I have stuff to do the next day or not, and more recently due to a sleep disorder that a little machine I have rather neatly keeps at bay. Of course, the sounds on that record are so woozy in the most intoxicating way, so it's more than tempting it's inevitable to make a connection between the state of mind and those sounds...

There's this rare and rad book on the subject I used to have but stupidly sold ages ago -- now I can only find it from some shady site for $65, and Powells doesn't even have it, neither does ABE. I don't neeeeed it for my book but I'd like it.

You want a taste? Here is a taste (unedited transcript from my talk with Kevin last week): "The Isn’t Anything phase was big time all about sleep deprivation. I was young enough and strong enough, and not into drugs enough. You know, if you smoke a load of pot you can’t stay awake. So, then it would be like I was totally, I would get off on having two or three hours sleep a night , and just working constantly and I'd be making a record and making it; it was very enjoyable. But then the Loveless thing was a lot more about – I’d become more immersed in a general state of slight dislocatedness."

"By and large most of the lyrics come from, not so much the hypnagogic half-awake half-asleep, more the slightly trancey state that you’re in when you’re writing songs. And that does involve being quite tired. Most tunes I write mostly really late at night, or something. Or if it’s in the studio it’s in the state where after a few weeks of being in the studio not really getting good sleep."

"And for me, being in a roomful of electronic equipment I find quite mind altering as well, somehow. I don’t know why, but I feel very affected by a lot of electricity. And that’s why for me the record making process involves a lot of getting away from the studio. Because I find, being in there for a long time is kind of like, I’m going off; I’m losing reality, day by day, slightly. Do you know what I mean? That’s the other weird thing I never really got to understand. Maybe someday they’ll find out some people are more sensitive to electricity than others, or something, I don’t know. I think electricity will be seen in the future as an environmental hazard that some people are sensitive to in the same way as pollution."

This shall be one of the things I talk to Bilinda about this Sunday, since dating someone who has this penchant may not be the simplest thing in the world.

Dropped by the opening reception for Julianna Bright's show at Valentines tonight -- I was rather late and missed the musical portion unfortunately, but got to hang with several handfuls of awesome people (no, it wasn't an orgy, unfortunately -- these were some good looking people!) . Been so tired from ill health plus working too much so it was extra awesome to get out, be amongst pals and stuff. The art community in PDX may be small, but I'm constantly surprised at how many decent artists there really are here. And, like, how good the art at various cafes is. That's weird to me. Good weird, of course. But if a similar thing ever existed in Seattle, I never found it -- and I was looking... Today I adore Portland in all its rainy, chilly, gloomy glamor.

Dennis Cooper just posted his fifty favorite novels of all time -- someone tell that dude to READ MORE HAPPY BOOKS!!! Hah. Of course it's a great list, though Mann, Robbe-Grillet, Foster Wallace and Ellis never did much for me. More people should read Robert Walser and Dodie Bellamy of course; the world would be a better place. Me, I never date a girl who doesn't seriously (but not too seriously) dig Story of the Eye. But then, I only am interested in happy, smart perverts. Like Dennis! Although, I am not interested in him that way, which I'm sure he is thankful for. His blog amazes me 'cause the dude is insanely busy but has the time to seriously interact with all these people. Sure, it's partly flirting. But only part.

Ohhh, you came here looking for a song? Here is one by the awesome Portland free-wheeling band World. And just you wait until PDX's Plants release their debut in a month or so -- you will like it! Because I say so. And if you haven't, listen to Serena Maneesh (non-suck rock type music).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What can I do or say to let you know the state I'm in?

BIG BOYS "Which Way to Go"
BOBBY BIRDMAN "I Will Come Again"
LILYS "The Hermit Crab"
HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS "Give the Fiddler a Dram"

This Big Boys song sounds as absolutely perfect today as it did twenty years ago when I first heard it thanks to the brilliant painter Alex Brown (who also turned me on to Eric B and Rakim on the same day). But ooohh, man. I can't believe I forgot to dedicate YETI 3 to Randy "Biscuit" Turner; bums me out I didn't do that.

The Bobby Birdman track is a remix by the uber-talented YACHT, from a 12" on the brand-new PDX-based Fryk Beat label. Is there a finer lap-pop crooner out there? Didn't think so.

Yesterday I posted some stuff on ILX about music writer Robert Christgau that I feel like an asshole for saying. I love it when I get all indignant and railing against someone only to realize a few seconds later I not only sound like a fuckwad but I basically was talking to myself, writing out of jealousy and of course fear. I just feel like what's the good in saying asshole-ish things whether they're true or not? Also whenever I'm really self-righteous I fail to make a point very clearly and resort to generalizations more than ever. Sorry to sound all Dr. Phil there. At least I think that was what Dr. Phil would sound like, only meaner and louder and all about somebody else, right? That guy is a douche and I shan't regret saying that. Can you believe the outrageous comments on my blog? I am going out on a limb there, oh good gosh and golly.

My girlfriend is staying with me until she gets her own place; as a total and complete slob with way too much stuff I don't fully realize the extent of my slovenliness until a fairly sane person comes into contact with it. This had me thinking of the "Hermit Crab" song 'cause I think hermit crabs totally have the right idea -- just take your house with you, and don't own more than you can carry. Plus, the Lilys came up in a three hour conversation I had the privelege of finally having with Kevin Shields last week and now I have to rework half my MBV book but it's totally worth it to have the thing be accurate and to have that record's creator's input is awesome. Of all the bands to rip off MBV, I'll take the Swirlies and Lilys over any of their British contemporaries. So many people I respect seem to dig Swervedriver though, that I guess I owe them another listen? Also, I posted the tune 'cause my girl's name is Lily. Also again, the Lilys have a new album due out in a month or so. Can't wait to hear it; wonder which direction they've gone off on now? Hope that Kurt is doing alright ghostwriting these days. That guy's wonderful.

The Holy Modal Rounders tune is here to encourage all good people to tip as well as they can, even when they can't. Tip thirty percent today. Always give a buck for coffee no matter what the coffee cost. If you can't aford that, make coffee at home, you know? Anyway. Apparently I'm more Andy Rooney than Dr. Phil when you get down to it. This's one of the best trad. tunes the Rounders ever tackled, in my book. So few people can really cover that stuff and get the flat fucked-up nasally vocal style down, you know? Though not appreciated by folkie purists in their day, with hindsight the classic pre-trips version of the group sounds like the most "authentic" folk act of the entire revival! I love that.

PS: Does anyone have one of these babies yet? I want.

PPS: NYT's second-most-emailed article of yesterday concerns a place I am rather happy opened up in my 'hood very recently. Just wish the prices were a tad better, or that their cheese selection could come close to Whole Foods'... Yes, I have vaguely yuppie appetites when it comes to food.