Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Super-late on this, of course, but the Beatlemaniac in me loves the sound bite Paul Frick drops about four minutes into his Little White Earbuds Podcast from January.

Seven boxes sit in my living room. They mostly contain magazines, gathered from my friend Rickey's place, to be dealt with by those closest to him at a later date. So it's a temporary library for me. It's odd that he died a month and a half ago now; the time frame seems to swim in shallow water for me, not quite reachable. A lot of issues of Mojo, which is one of those magazines I'll never fully connect with conceptually. On the one hand, filling an entire feature well with stuff on the Beatles is very in line with my own feelings about them; on the other, um, what year is this? Then again, Mojo is still around and still seems to be doing well, as so many other publishing endeavors, paper and non, devoted to stuff that's actually occurring at the moment have belly-flopped or withered slowly or are being left to die on the vine that, you know, who can blame them? Maybe all anyone wants to read about anymore is the fucking Beatles. But it works to my advantage to have them, since I'm thinking about a project that deals with the past, too. I'm going through the Mojos to glean usable artist quotes and occasionally other things, and while I'm not finding as many as I would if I were doing, I don't know, the 8,000,000th Beatles book, it's still helpful.

The most pleasure has come from a trio of 1995-96 issues of Details. I'd forgotten what an absolute pleasure this magazine was to read. Sharp, very well designed, bright in that period's manner but modern enough to jump out even now, and plenty of good writers. This is where a lot of folks learned their trade, and where I learned to pay attention to magazines that weren't only about music. Sharp mix of U.S. and U.K. writers; Chris Heath became my favorite profile writer via Details. And of course Rob Sheffield getting three whole pages to review ten CDs plus some quick-cut one-liners on many more. June 1995, with scores out of 10: The Black Dog's Spanners (9), Hurricane's The Hurra (a probably generous 6), Kendra Smith's Five Ways of Disappearing (8), Wynton Marsalis & Ellis Marsalis's Joe Cool's Blues (8), Terence Trent D'Arby's Vibrator (8--the kind of record that gets this score and is never played again), Yo La Tengo's Electr-O-Pura (9), Guy Clark's Dublin Blues (7), Sleeper's Smart (6, which I'd have given it too, and then recalled years later and wondered why I was being so nice), M People's Bizarre Fruit (8; this was one of the CDs I held on to forever past any intention of ever needing to hear it again, though the U.S. version of Elegant Slumming is still awesome), Blumfeld's L'Etat et Moi (8), plus shorties on Hendrix, Thurston Moore, the B.U.M.S., N.Y. Jungle E.P. on Profile, the Television Personalities, Helium, Marty Stuart, Tish Hinojosa, Radiohead ("On The Bends [Capitol], Radiohead try to prove that their 1993 smash "Creep" wasn't just a fluke. Unfortunately, it probably was."), a Major Lance best-of (!), Papa Wemba, and Massive Attack vs. Mad Professor. Three pages, every month, because new CDs were interesting to people. Actual sentences, not weird truncated squibs where you have to struggle to fit in a real idea or two. Sigh.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Really want to read this book (and it's awesome to see Jim Bouton in the Times Book Review). Umpires sound like rock critics, only without any chance whatsoever of upward mobility without switching careers.

I've been listening to the playlist of the Q1 Top 40 posted earlier, and suddenly things feel more in focus, musically, this year. That isn't to say they are, of course, though I'm proud to say I have only one full Lux & Ivy's Favorites volume to go before I'm completely caught up. (That Forced Exposure package should arrive any minute now, of course, punting me right back into the weeds.) It's sounding better and better, which I was hoping for. It's even sounding kind of coherent, though it's obviously not any kind of real overview. That probably has to do with my having already invested some time with them, their familiarity making more sense bunched together instead of scattered about. That's true any year, but what feels off about this one is that there hasn't really been anything that's made me re-listen obsessively for reasons other than trying to get a bead on it for the Stranger column. No. 1 is No. 1 because when I re-listened it hit me much harder than it had when I was getting familiar with it, and I liked it plenty then. It's got a formal perfection to it that I really admire. But in the Top 10, only No. 2 (The-Dream's "Kelly's 12 Play") and No. 8 (brakesbrakesbrakes' "Ancient Mysteries") are songs I repeat three or nine times, that I obsess over, and even then it's less obsession than re-pressing an enjoyable button ("Ancient Mysteries") or wanting to fill the room ("Kelly's 12 Play"). Admiration is as important to me as adoration; it keeps me afloat in thin times. But watching things crumble as they have been (the other day, Blender--yes, good writers galore, but having read nearly every issue cover to cover, many of its surface effects still put me off much of the time--tomorrow, who knows? And of course, that's merely one tiny corner of it), suddenly a sense of belief seems like the only reason to keep going. All the admiration in the world isn't producing it, not lately. [xpost w/SLM]

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ted Thu, Mar 26, 2009 at 01:39 PM EST = OTM

Below is a Top 40 for the 2009’s first quarter. Even more than usual, this is anything but an attempt at a pronouncement on the state of anything in particular. It’s quite clearly subject to change. I’ve probably heard fewer new singles this year than I had either of the previous two at this time; my methods are even more haphazard than usual, though figuring out what was what was a relative snap. I make no guarantee that anything here “means” anything—though enough of it certainly could eventually and may already. As usual when I do these things I’m surprised how well I like it as a list and as individual selections, but there’s no way I’d offer it as proof of anything much at all.

1. Roy Davis Jr. ft. Erin Martin, “I Have a Vision (The Juan MacLean Remix)” (Scion Audio Visual)
2. The-Dream, “Kelly’s 12 Play” (Def Jam)
3. Lil Wayne ft. Pharrell, “Yes” (mixtape)
4. Kelly Clarkson, “I Do Not Hook Up” (J)
5. The Hold Steady, “Atlantic City” (War Child Music)
6. Dan Deacon, “Surprise Stefani” (Carpark)
7. K’naan, “T.I.A.” (A&M/Octone)
8. brakesbrakesbrakes, “Ancient Mysteries” (Rough Trade)
9. School of Seven Bells, “Iamundernodisguise” (Ghostly International)
10. K’naan, “Kicked, Pushed” (mixtape)

11. Shawn Lee ft. Fanny Franklin, “Cruel Woman” (Ubiquity)
12. Jürgen Paape, “Ausklang (Burger/Voigt Mix)” (Kompakt)
13. Antony + Bryce Dessner, “I Was Young When I Left Home” (4AD)
14. Keri Hilson ft. Lil Wayne, “Turnin' Me On” (Interscope)
15. Franz Ferdinand, “Live Alone” (Domino)
16. Dorian Concept, “Mesh Beam Splitter” (Kindred Spirits/K7)
17. Here We Go Magic, “I Just Want to See You Underwater” (Western Vinyl)
18. Tanlines, “New Flowers” (Young Turks)
19. Neko Case, “People Got a Lotta Nerve” (Anti-)
20. Prizehog, “Husky” (MP3)

21. Ben Watt, “Guinea Pig (DJ Koze Rmx)” (Get Physical)
22. Gucci Mane, “Stoopid” (Big Cat)
23. Afrobutt, “The Taste (Round & Brown)” (Electric Minds)
24. Ben Klock, “In a While” (Ostgut Ton)
25. Gorilla Zoe, “Lost” (Bad Boy)
26. Chelonis R. Jones, “Underdog Anomaly” (Systematic)
27. Horsepower Productions, “Damn It” (Tempa)
28. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Siik Remix)” (MP3)
29. Kode 9, “Black Sun” (Hyperdub)
30. Q-Tip ft. Kanye West & Consequence, “We Fight, We Love (Remix)” (MP3)

31. J. Period ft. De La Soul, “Excursions (Tribute Remix)” (jperiod.com/q-tip)
32. Lawrence, “Jill Reprise” (Mule Electronic)
33. Bell Orchestre, “Water/Light/Shifts” (Arts & Crafts)
34. Termanology, “Circulate (100 Bars)” (Termanologymusic.com)
35. Clinton Sparks ft. Clipse & Pharrell, “Still Got It 4 Cheap” (mixtape)
36. 2000 & One, “State of House” (100% Pure)
37. The King Khan & BBQ Show, “Animal Party” (Fat Possum)
38. My Teenage Stride, “Average Justice” (My Teenage Stride)
39. Luomo, “Tessio (Stimming Remix)” (Great Stuff Roots Edition)
40. Futomomo Satisfaction, “Goro Goro Nyang” (MP3)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I kind of want these. Actually, a lot.

It's hot, it's sexy, it's dead.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I just realized that, duh, I have a forum for asking these things: I am interested in speaking to anybody who wants to talk to me about this a cappella:

I'm happy to talk to clubgoers about memorable occurrences when they heard the a cappella, and I'm especially interested in DJs here, or people who know DJs; I'm hoping to reach a fairly broad array stylistically, but this is pretty obviously aimed straight at the house DJs, or even people who've played house among other things, and have used this record in a set. If you'd like to comment, please email matos@idolator.com. Thanks.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This could not be more perfect, and they could not have found a better photo. edit OMG I just realized their names are friggin' KENLEY AND PENLEY (also "weapons of meow destruction": A++++++++++++, someday I too will see the mountaintop of having written something approaching that good, just you wait)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jess on the Virgin AMBT series. There was a poll on ILM that almost no one participated in the other day (Aphex = robbed), and in it, someone linked to a couple still-working files of the Ocean of Sound comp; I'm playing it for the third time in as many days. I seriously suggest that you grab it while you can.

A few years ago my friend Eli asked me on ILM--I'm extrapolating--why should I care about Star Time? Why can't I just hear a James Brown album or single or best-of and think that this is it, this is all I need, this sums him up? What I should have been smart enough to answer was this: Because not all experiences are the same, and not all of them are equal. Five hours of James Brown, listened to beginning to end, chronicling most of his career, shot through with rarities, rich with absolutely revelatory live takes: this spoils a person for life. It's not an experience you can have in five minutes or forty. It's its own thing, and though you may know many of these songs, none of them, even in aggregate, can prepare you for it. After listening for the first time to all five hours of Star Time all I could think of was I WANT MORE.

That's what a great compilation infests you with. Your friend makes you a mix of her favorite new wave songs from the mid-'80s and within two years you're collecting see-through 7-inches from Holland. You learn about punk from the Repo Man soundtrack. If you're me and Jess and a handful of others in 1996, you pick up David Toop's book and accompanying double-CD because electronic music and hip-hop provided a sonic map guide for how to hear other things. Toop's ever-natural knack for the light overlap, tracks quickly nudging each other on the way in/out, really opened my ears. So did his tastes, big time: once I had the money I went on a rather ill-advised Paul Schutze binge. But it was the way he segued everything that provided the ultimate persuasion. My mix tapes were haunted by Ocean of Sound for years afterward.

As Jess notes, compilations like these were dot-connectors for a time when the Internet still had a few years to reach critical mass, and it's still definitive in both the sense that it shaped a certain portion of my taste, and that I never like these selections more than on this album. I think of it as part of a number of '90s ideas/objects that seem to me to be definitively pre-Internet--RE/Search books are another example--where people were trying to work their way to the future by gathering together as much arcane information as they could in one place. Obviously the Web existed in 1996; it's how I found out about the album. But it was way before Napster, and anyone who remembers their bosses griping five years ago about how no one knew what blogs were the way I can should be able to make the necessary leap. Listening again, Ocean of Sound still retains all of its pleasure and mystery. If anything, a decade's worth of the Never-Ending Mix Tape that is the internet has only made it more pleasurable and more mysterious. Toop intended to snatch meaning out of the air, and listening again, that's pretty much what he did.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The love-in that begins here really brings home something that's been pretty apparent: this has been a hell of a decade for the rock doc. Ease of production, the same as what's made so much more music available, is the culprit. I've seen about two-thirds of the movies they name and agree with most of them; the rest I want to see, almost without exception. Maybe instead of renting bunches of breakdanceploitation movies, as I did a week ago (finally saw Breakin', Beat Street, and OMFG I saw Body Rock, and let me tell you, if you want to get together with your friends and get fucked up and then get incredulous, this is your movie), I should get Louie Bluie at long last.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Another year, another zillion SXSW emails to delete. Jesus, what a canard: I know a lot of people go, and I went once myself (in 2005) and had an OK time, but . . . really, what are people thinking? Hour-long lines to see third rate bands, lines all the way down the city street to see acts (in that particular case, it was Stephen Malkmus and a LCD Soundsystem/M.I.A. dual bill) that will be coming to most of the participants' towns twice, and, oooh, barbecue. The funniest/saddest part is that the whole thing is basically catch-as-catch-can, there's no sensible way to plan it out since there's so much going on and because the lines are so long; unless you're with the New York Times or something along those lines, good luck getting into much of anything worth seeing any less than an hour early. Sure I'd go again if someone were footing the bill--it's the only reason I went the first time. But really, it's just kind of sad.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March 4, 2009 @ Havana
1. Ray Barretto, "Stargazer"
2. The Undisputed Truth, "Big John Is My Name"
3. Eric B. & Rakim, "Juice (Know the Ledge)"
4. K'naan, "Kicked, Pushed"
5. Marc Ushmi and Tom Assman and Nik Adirol, "Rock with me (Nik Adirol Mix)"
6. Bell Orchestre, "Water/Light/Shifts"
7. Duke Ellington, "Bluebird of Delhi"
8. Art Blakey, "Moanin'"
9. Lee Morgan, "Boy, What a Night"
10. Bobby Pauneto, "No-Van-Co"
11. Matias Aguayo, "Minimal (DJ Koze Remix)"
12. Chelonis R. Jones, "Pompadour"
13. Herbert, "Harmonise"
14. Clinic, "Coda"
15. Squarepusher, "Squarepusher Theme"
16. Young John Watson, "Space Guitar"
17. Hot Chip, "One Pure Thought (Supermayer Remix)"
18. Margo, "The Spark That Lights the Flame"
19. Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five, "Choo Choo Ch-Boogie"
20. African Jazz/Grand Kalle, "Independence Cha-Cha"
21. Lumidee, "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh)"
22. The Strokes, "Last Nite"
23. Missing Persons, "Mental Hopscotch"
24. Bunker Hill, "The Girl Can't Dance"
25. Parts & Labor, "Davenport Amphitheater"
26. Faust, "Kundalini Tremolos"

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Stuff I can't wait for: the inevitable anthology, to be published in 20 years, of journalists pondering the death of journalism back when journalism died, i.e. right now.