Thursday, January 29, 2015

The New Drunk Drivers Have Hoisted The Flag

I had a horrible dream the night before last. I dreamt I was eating used staples and paperclips. It was pretty bad, since it was very vivid. Hell, it was serious enough that it woke me up. That's not common for me until very early in the morning. I'm still a little freaked about it even though I remember very little about it. Sorry if I made you freaked too.

Flickr user Madbuster75

Then I had two different dreams this morning about being at the mall, of all places. In the first I was buying something that looked like gelato, then I was back for some kind of live music show. These weren't so bad. It seemed to be Monroeville Mall, actually. The second part actually felt like I was watching a performance for one of the late-night shows, come to think of it. There were two acts that played, but I don't remember anything else about them. Actually, I do remember one of the lead singers looking at me. I wonder if that means anything.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

This Bulkhead's Made Of Fallen Brethren's Bones

Something that always confounded me - when you look at the word 'predecessor', you realize that it seems to mean 'the one who died before'. That's weird right there.

Does that mean I get to live forever?

But what really baffles me is that we use this word in everyday conversation to MEAN 'the one who came before'. As in, 'Oh, yeah, he's the guy who worked here before you and then DIED, and also I'm saying this as casually as can be.' Seriously, how awkward is that? It's not like everyone who's ever had to be replaced died first.

Your Own Private Idaho

Tautologies are their own reward.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Like A Birth In Reverse, What I Saw Through The Blinds

Had an interesting experience when I found an album at the South Side CD Exchange. It was a 5-song EP in a plain white sleeve, credited to Robert Hazard & the Heroes. Didn't think much of it, but was interested to hear how it played.

A couple weeks ago, I finally gave it a spin, but not before I made two very interesting discoveries. Firstly, it turns out that 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' by Cyndi Lauper was a rewrite, and Robert Hazard was the original artist (hi Drew).

Secondly, when I looked in the sleeve I found these:

Ticket stubs to see Hazard at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. Less than $20 for two people to go to a concert? What was this, 1983? (Yes, actually.) Makes me wonder about the ~$40 I spent on the last Black Keys show. 

And a poster of Hazard, with the whole band and the lyrics on the back. This is actually a pretty unique find. While there may be other posters that accompanied this disc out there, I doubt that many come with ticket stubs. Of course, I wonder what seeing Hazard live would have been like. So how did it play?

What I Liked:
Hazard's other claims to fame make up the first side of this mini-album; 'Escalator Of Life', a serious-sounding satire on materialism in the New Wave era, and 'Change Reaction' a much more poppy track. Hazard is another artist that has encapsulated what was good about New Wave; he captures the nervous energy that punk made possible, but kept the smoothness and polish - and dare I say glamour? - that put the best of New Wave artists on magazine covers and on the radio (I must confess, I'm thinking of Blondie here most of all, Talking Heads a close second). They're good at sounding serious, although it may not always serve them. Best songs: Escalator Of Life and (I Just Want To) Hang Around With You.

What I Didn't Like:
The problem here with capturing the good of New Wave means taking the bad with it. The record suffers from the same problems that bedeviled New Wave when it began. The chief complaint was always conformity of sounds, and here Hazard and crew sound very much a piece of their time. Only by the first side does the group make any progress on an individual sound, chiefly with 'Escalator'. 'Change Reaction' and 'Out Of The Blue' are nice and bright, but too sugary for my taste. Synths sound cheesy on occasion, and riffs are simple; no real head-turning hooks here. And the cover of Dylan's 'Blowin' In The Wind' is very strange a choice; the faux orchestration as the song proceeds gets cheesy too. 

In Conclusion:
I have to say the disc is a slight disappointment, but 'Escalator Of Life' is worth tracking down, if you can find it on 7". 

Thanks, WYEP. You kept playing 'Birth In Reverse' until I liked it, so I had to pick up St. Vincent's self-titled album. With a sound I keep describing to people as 'quirk-pop', the album officially has me hooked. Anne Erin Clark, who goes by the stage name of St. Vincent, was an alumnus of The Polyphonic Spree, made an album with Talking Heads front David Byrne, and has now released her fourth full-length effort. Details below. 

What I Liked:
St. Vincent and David Byrne made an album together. I see why. Clark brings that strange, awkward nervous energy of Talking Heads- or Devo-esque New Wave to a fresh look at pop music, with very good results. Quirky and alien, with a very subtle wit and will; this is what New Wave should have made thirty years ago. Best showcase is new media commentary 'Digital Witness' with it's neurotic verse and gloriously bombastic chorus; quirk-danceable 'Birth In Reverse' is a close second with its giggly, engaging hook. Slower songs do have a nice sense of polish to them, e.g. 'Prince Johnny'. The synth component of her sound is surprisingly hard-edged - something I expect from a hard rock guitarist. It likewise lends weight; but with a different feel, a different character. Best Songs? Y'know, it's easier to list the exceptions. They're discussed next. 

What I Didn't Like:
I actually had to listen again to remember what it was I didn't like: 'I Prefer Your Love'. I'm not serious about religion, but the strangeness of out-and-out declaring feelings for somebody in specific preference over Jesus is one of the more odd trains of thought I've heard. It feels as honest as it does bizarre, and maybe that's why I personally find it off-putting. Some tracks get musically quiet ('Regret', 'Huey Newton'), and on those she starts to sound like a more grounded version of Ivy. Not a bad comparison, but I'll admit I expect a more individual stamp from Clark. 

In Conclusion:
A fabulously quirky album with a strong female creative force at the helm? Sign me up! Anyone who's not afraid of something truly 'alternative' in music would do well to at least take this disc for one spin. I recommend!

There's been a single hanging around Dave's Music Mine for a while now, and since the picture sleeve features a steam locomotive, it catches my eye every time. It's 'All The Trains' by David Bavas & The Down Comforter, backed with 'Nail In The Wall'. Oddly, The Down Comforter is credited here, but not on the album from which both tracks are taken. For this 7", Bavas presents a slow and traditional country sound, which readers will know appeals to me more than current pop-country. It's well done, with subtle production, and both songs are good - 'Nail In The Wall' being the more upbeat of the two. Both sides sounded very similar, though. Checking out the album might be worth it. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

I've Watched You Move Like A Knife In The Water

Hey Roi! I finally got around to putting up the playlists for the CDs I burned for you back in October! Sorry it took so long.

I hope you enjoyed them.

The Lion Series Vol. 1: Brutish Railways
  1. Springing Leaks - Algernon Cadwallader
  2. The Modern World - The Jam
  3. Race For The Prize - The Flaming Lips
  4. Witchcraft - Wolfmother
  5. The Ram - Manila Road
  6. Rock & Roll Queen - The Subways
  7. Almost Easy - Avenged Sevenfold
  8. Contra - Early Man
  9. Industrial Enemy - Templar
  10. On The Way Home - Neil Young
  11. Sundrop - The Flying Eyes
  12. Take Me Out - Franz Ferdinand
  13. Goin' Out West - Tom Waits
  14. Chancer - The Von Bondies
  15. Retirement - Kaiser Chiefs
  16. Gangs In The Garden - Black Moth Super Rainbow
  17. Favours For Favours - Futureheads
  18. Guide - The Music
  19. Everlasting Light - The Black Keys
The Lion Series Vol. 2: Fraternal Twin Steel Mills
(some copies released with working title 'Moving Fast With Humans')
  1. Motor Away - Guided By Voices
  2. I Turn My Camera On - Spoon
  3. Is There A Ghost - Band Of Horses
  4. Wildcat - Ratatat
  5. Adrenaline Nightshift - Japandroids
  6. Worry Worry - The Fiery Furnaces
  7. Hold My Life - The Replacements
  8. Conventional Wisdom - Built To Spill
  9. Let It Ride - Buffalo Killers
  10. We No Who U R - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  11. Class Clown Spots A UFO - Guided By Voices
  12. The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine - Spoon
  13. I Can't Quit Her - Blood, Sweat & Tears
  14. Rollerdisco - Black Moth Super Rainbow
  15. For The Love Of Ivy - Japandroids
  16. Ex-Guru - The Fiery Furnaces
  17. Kill Your Television - Ned's Atomic Dustbin
  18. Wooden Ships - Crosby, Stills & Nash*
  19. Black Paper - Buffalo Killers
* Neil Young sold separately. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I've Got The Boxcar Blues, Shuffle On Down The Track

This was the condition we found the train set in one of the South Side's tattoo parlors the other night. 

Track half-connected, the manifest freight on an incomplete loop, and the local in the ditch...

This is no way to run a railroad.