Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Internet Content

1. "Now We're Talkin' Yellow" by The Colour Lovers UK
2. "72 Turkeys" by Too Many Turkeys
3. "Swamp Ass (In Mid-July)" by Southside Sonny & The Port Authority Pranksters
4. "I'm Sick of Todd" by Todd's Neighbors
5. "Crank It Up (And Rock)" by Ruff Stuffing
6. "My Feet Are Possessed By Dancing Ghosts" by Terrified Barbara
7. "Road Trippin' On PCP" by Bong Sweater
8. "Road Trippin' on PCP Part 2" by Bong Sweater
9. "Now You're Feeling Wonderful" by Positive Michael
10. "Your Whole Family Died in a Trampoline Mishap" by The Indelicate News Breakers
11. "You'll Never Get Tired of This One" by Permanent Enjoyment
12. "It Gets Worse" by Future Adult
13. "70s Livin' (Is Just Alright With Me)" by Bucky & Sweetums
14. "Open Bar Doesn't Mean You Can Grab a Bottle of Scotch and Take It Home, Gary" by Sir Elton John
15. "Metal Machine Music, Side 4" by Carole King
16. "The Boys Are Back At It Again Once More" by Tan Lazlo
17. "Archipelagos in the Ocean of My Emotions" by Randy & Rhandy
18. "The Year Is 1977 and That Will Never Change" by The Calendar Dummies
19. "Is a Potato?" by The Third Cerebellum
20. "Nine Ways to Party" by 10 Ways to Party
21. "Hey, Jeff!" by There's Jeff
22. "Moving (Forward) By Moving Backwards (To the Side)" by Negative Sweat Ltd.
23. "Everybody Listen To This" by Bossy Pricks
24. "Copyright Infringement" by The Welcome Back Kotters
25. "This Can of Expired Peas Is Probably Okay To Eat" by Whisperin' Kip Simmons
26. "Bloodletting of the She-goat in the Burning Forest of the Succubi" by Betty Johnson
27. "This BBQ Stand Is Closed on Monday" by Disappointed Todd
28. Parade magazine read by my computer's text-to-speech software
29. "Beep Boop Bop (Computers Are Here)" by Floppy & The Disks
30. "Your Life Is Kinda Stupid" by Honest Rod & The Blunt Talkers

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

My favorite music of 2017

I didn't like much of what happened this year on a global, national, state, and personal level. I won't bore you with a recap. You're all living the nightmare, too, and are probably beating yourself up about what you could have done to stop the Fall of the Roman Empire 2: Mar-a-Lago Boogaloo. It was a bad-news-every-morning kind of year, and not just politically. (Contracting an extremely painful case of shingles in March was just one of the many lowlights.)  
The oppressive shittiness of the present moment has its positive side effects, however, one of which is a heightened gratefulness for the things in my life that are not awful. In that spirit of gratefulness, I present my favorite albums of 2017. 

My favorite records of the year
The Afghan Whigs - In Spades
Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile - Lotta Sea Lice
Bed Wettin' Bad Boys - Rot
Björk - Utopia
Circuit des yeux - Reaching for Indigo
Andrew Cohen & Light Coma - Unreality
Crystal Fairy - Crystal Fairy
Tim Darcy - Saturday Night
Destroyer - ken
The Feelies - In Between
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band - Dreaming in the Non-Dream
Noah Georgeson - Osian
Guadalupe Plata - Guadalupe Plata 2017
Guided By Voices - How Do You Spell Heaven
Yasmine Hamdan - Al Jamilat
Mark Lanegan Band - Gargoyle
The Magnetic Fields - 50 Song Memoir
Man Forever - Play What They Want
John Maus - Screen Memories
METZ - Strange Peace
Obnox - Niggative Approach
OCS - Memory of a Cut Off Head
Oh Sees - Orc
Peacers - Introducing the Crimsmen
Priests - Nothing Feels Natural
Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
Lee Ranaldo - Electric Trim
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The French Press
Ty Segall - Ty Segall
Spotlights - Seismic
Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me
Sweet Apple - Sing the Night in Sorrow
Moses Sumney - Aromanticism
Träd, Gräs och Stenar - Tack för Kaffet (So Long)
USA/Mexico - Laredo
Wand - Plum

Honorable mentions
Beck - Colors
Big Boi - Boomiverse
Circus Devils - Laughs Last
Dälek - Endangered Philosophies
Damaged Bug - Bunker Funk
Dead Cross - Dead Cross
Downtown Boys - Cost of Living
The Fall - New Facts Emerge
Feral Ohms - Feral Ohms
The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody
Guided By Voices - August By Cake
LCD Soundsystem - American Dream
Ted Leo - The Hanged Man (Kicked down to honorable mention solely because the drum sound is the worst I've ever heard on a commercially released recording. Why would you do that to your drummer, Ted Leo?)
Melvins - A Walk with Love and Death
Thurston Moore - Rock N Roll Consciousness
The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions
Queens of the Stone Age - Villains 
Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - solo album series (Roman Lips, Zen Thrills, Chocolate Tumor Hormone Parade, Ensayo de un desaparecido, Azul mis dientes, Gorilla Preacher Cartel, Killing Tingled Lifting Retreats, Solid State Mercenaries, Birth of a Ghost, Doom Patrol)
Ty Segall - Fried Shallots
Spiral Stairs - Doris & The Daggers
Teen Judge - Teen Judge
Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Visitor

Favorite reissues, archival releases, soundtracks
Pastor T.L. Barrett & The Youth for Christ Choir - Like a Ship (Without a Sail) and Do Not Pass Me By
CAN - The Singles
The Creation - Action Painting
Crimpshrine - Free Box
Guided By Voices - Live from Austin, TX
Hüsker Dü - Savage Young
Isis - Live VII
Alex Johnson - Operation Oasis
Laraaji - Vision Songs Vol. 1
Look Blue Go Purple - Still Bewitched
The Necessaries - Event Horizon
Noise Addict - 10,000 Kids with Guitars
Oneida - Live at Secret Project Robot
The Replacements - For Sale: Live at Maxwell's 1986
Jackie Shane - Any Other Way
Sheer Mag - Compilation
Super Static Fever - Silent Dynamic Torture
Valve Studio Orchestra - Dota 2 and Fight Songs: The Music of Team Fortress 2
Various Artists - Eccentric Soul: The Cash Label
Various Artists - Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht 
Various Artists - Southwest Side Story
Various Artists - Warfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares
Neil Young - Hitchhiker

Favorite album of 2016 I didn't get until 2017
75 Dollar Bill - Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

The days of old (Alf edition)

This post is dedicated to the boys from Robot Town
I was just at the 7-11 on my lunch hour, buying lottery tickets because that is what 2017 has done to this old soldier. The usually monotone, all-business clerk saw the Alf t-shirt worn by the young man in his early twenties in line ahead of me and said, with much enthusiasm, "Boy, what do YOU know about Alf? I used to LOVE Alf! I STILL love Alf!" The young man replied, "My mom showed me all the cool stuff from the '80s that I missed, like Alf." His tone was wistful, melancholy. He was genuinely saddened that he missed that time in our nation's history when Alf was a current television show but also glad he lived in a time when one's mother could stream episodes of Alf from the days of yore on today's current devices.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stray thought pinball

For the last four days, I've had an inflamed nerve in my left arm that slowly graduated from infrequent, minor, dull irritation to throbbing, stabbing, constant pain and back again. I spent the afternoon at work close to tears, head on desk, when it was in its peak intensity, pretending like I wasn't in pain whenever I had to make contact with my fellow humans. It reminded me of a tweet I read today from a comedian I follow, paraphrasing: "Why are we supposed to be embarrassed when toilet paper is stuck to our shoe? It just means we wiped our ass." Why do we expend so much effort pretending to each other that life isn't happening?

Like most Austinites, I spend a lot of time bitching about traffic, rising home prices, constant festivals, condos replacing old houses and small businesses, yuppie gentrification, lack of meaningful jobs and job opportunities, the young people and their love of fitness and hatred of life-shortening hedonism, etc. But I love living in my adopted hometown, and in another year and change, I will have lived here longer than I lived in my bona fide hometown (that's 18 years and one month, for those keeping score.). A biographical sentence as partial reason why I still live here: Last night, for free, I watched a member of one of my favorite UK punk bands play American roots music with one of my coworkers while getting drunk with my cats' veterinarian (who makes house calls), and some permutation of this combination happens at least once a year. Also, these guys regularly play shows with the Boston Red Sox organist who happens to be a frequent caller on my favorite comedy podcast.

I still miss Vic Chesnutt almost like he was a relative. I spend at least 10 minutes a week silently yelling at whatever higher power didn't step in and keep that guy around. His songs hit me some place so deep I can't even find it. I think I was born Southern in a past life, based on many of my literary and musical holy grails. Reincarnation is the only spiritual thing that makes sense to me aesthetically and morally, even if I have absolutely no logical proof that it's real. I used to be an atheist, but I love music, and most other arts, too much to be an atheist. Art is spooky, and it does magical things I can't find a place for in a logical, ordered universe. Fundamentalist religion is bunko, but we all need some magic in our lives, and I genuinely feel sorry for any human who can't leave a little room for magic and possibility and faith. I've had psychedelic experiences while completely sober and drug-free (and, sure, psychedelic experiences while on your popular late-20th century psychedelic drugs), and I think I saw a UFO when I was 17, which also may have been some expensive military boondoggle that took food out of poor people's mouths. I was lonely and sad and young and driving my parents' station wagon in the country near a heavily guarded military nuclear weapon storage facility 40 minutes from my hometown while listening to a cassette dub of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, and thank God the Internet was not accessible to small-town, working-class kids then or I probably would have been home trying to chat with faraway girls who didn't like jocks who were probably middle-aged pedophiles. I have reasonably good explanations for all these experiences, but reasonably good explanations are boring, aesthetically. Goddamn, Vic Chesnutt had so many good songs he left this one off every goddamn beautiful album. It's a bonus track on a reissue. I sure do like typing profanity. Eat some dicks, fuckfaces.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Formative teenage records

In a nice little bit of communal sharing and fun amidst the terror, anger, and sadness of the current political landscape, most of my friends have been posting lists of the 10 (or so) most important albums of their teenage years on Facebook. I quit the book of face a few years ago in order to stop arguing politics with my relatives and avoid stupid memes from both sides, but I still log in to my wife's account to see what certain people are up to and to look at cute pictures of my niece and nephew. It's been fun to see what records my friends were soaking up between the ages of 14 and 18, and it got me thinking about the big records for me in that turbulent 4-year chunk of time.
I was in high school from 1991-1995 in a culturally isolated small town in the Midwest. I didn't have MTV, the nearest major city was a four-hour drive away, the Internet was not really a thing yet for the average human, I had to drive 38 miles to buy CDs and cassettes, and it was a lot easier to find major label records than indies. I relied on music magazines, a few cool older friends and relatives, the cut-out bin at Wal-Mart, the TV programs Night Tracks and JBTV, my uncle's record collection, mail order, the one decent record store in the area, and random acts of weirdness to find out about bands. There were no real music scenes in my town, so the small handful of us who liked music more than sports congregated together, and we listened to pretty much everything except mainstream pop. I listened to a lot of terrible stuff, a lot of embarrassing stuff, and a lot of good and great stuff. These are the records I was able to find at the time that still mean something to me and have some connection to my listening habits now. If I were being totally honest, I'd put Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction and lots of mainstream alt-rock stuff on here, too, but I don't listen to much of that stuff now, except for my rare nostalgia wallows. Here are the records I was completely obsessed with between 9th and 12th grades (I tried to limit it to 10, and then this happened) (also, I think my taste was better in elementary school and college and so much worse in junior high): 

Jimi Hendrix - Band of Gypsys
The Beatles - White Album
Nirvana - Nevermind and In Utero
Jeff Buckley - Grace
Dinosaur Jr - Where You Been and Green Mind
Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes
Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee
The Replacements - Tim, Let It Be, and Pleased to Meet Me
Minutemen - Double Nickels on the Dime
fIREHOSE - Flyin' the Flannel
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me and To Bring You My Love
Bad Brains - Rock for Light
Black Flag - The First Four Years
The Clash - London Calling
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew (didn't appreciate this one until my twenties, but I listened to it a lot trying to understand it)
Faith No More - Angel Dust
Stevie Wonder - Innervisions
The Breeders - Last Splash
Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy
Mudhoney - Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Camper Van Beethoven - Key Lime Pie
Meat Puppets - II
The Black Crowes - The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Frank Black - Frank Black and Teenager of the Year
R.E.M. - Eponymous
Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Rust Never Sleeps
Fishbone - The Reality of My Surroundings and Truth and Soul
Pixies - Surfer Rosa and, to a slightly lesser extent, the other three
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Sonic Youth - Dirty, Goo, Daydream Nation, Sister, and Confusion Is Sex
Fugazi - Steady Diet of Nothing
The Flaming Lips - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
The Dead Milkmen - Beelzebubba (I stumbled across Big Lizard in my Backyard in 6th grade)
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Ween - all the '90s records


Friday, January 06, 2017

TV used to be weird, or you got queso in my peanut butter

I'm amusing myself during a freakish spell of downtime at work by looking at the list of past hosts and musical guests of Saturday Night Live. Some of them are hilariously odd pairings, for good, bad, ridiculous, or evil, until the late '90s when the combination of host and music becomes mostly very, very dull and stays that way permanently. (It really seems like a computer program is choosing the hosts and bands now. ) Seriously, like 85% of the combinations until the late '90s make me laugh and seem like throwaway gags from a vintage Simpsons episode, especially if you imagine them jamming together. (Also, Leon Redbone was the musical guest on roughly every fifth episode for the first seven years of the show.) These are the ones that jumped out at me (to be read in Don Pardo's voice):

Robert Klein and ABBA
Ron Nessen (Gerald Ford's press secretary) and the Patti Smith Group
Fran Tarkenton and Leo Sayer
Broderick Crawford and Levon Helm
O.J. Simpson and Ashford & Simpson
Christopher Lee and Meat Loaf
Buck Henry and Sun Ra
Fred Willard and Devo
Michael Palin and The Doobie Brothers
Milton Berle and Ornette Coleman
Ted Knight and Desmond Child & Rouge
Bea Arthur and The Roches
Rodney Dangerfield and The J. Geils Band
Strother Martin and The Specials
Bob Newhart and The Amazing Rhythm Aces
Elliott Gould and Kid Creole & The Coconuts
Malcolm McDowell and Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
Donald Pleasence and Fear
Robert Culp and The Charlie Daniels Band
Danny DeVito and Sparks
Ron Howard and The Clash
Howard Hesseman and Men At Work
Robert Blake and Kenny Loggins
Joan Rivers and Musical Youth
Ed Koch and Dexys Midnight Runners
Jerry Lewis and Loverboy
George McGovern and Madness
George Carlin and Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Ed Asner and The Kinks
Mr. T & Hulk Hogan and The Commodores
John Lithgow and Mr. Mister
Harry Dean Stanton and The Replacements (fuck yeah)
George Wendt and Philip Glass
Tony Danza and Laurie Anderson
Jimmy Breslin, "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler and Level 42 (?????)
Dabney Coleman and The Cars
Robert Mitchum and Simply Red (LOL)
Fred Savage and Technotronic
George Steinbrenner and The Time
Joe Mantegna and Vanilla Ice
Jeremy Irons and Fishbone
Steven Seagal and Michael Bolton
Jeff Daniels and Color Me Badd
Macaulay Culkin and Tin Machine
Joe Pesci and Spin Doctors
Sinbad and Sade
Charles Barkley and Nirvana
Charlton Heston and Paul Westerberg
Martin Lawrence and Crash Test Dummies
George Foreman and Hole
Danny Aiello and Coolio
Tom Arnold and 2Pac
Steve Forbes and Rage Against the Machine
Bill Pullman and New Edition
Sylvester Stallone and Jamiroquai
Rudy Giuliani and Sarah McLachlan
Nathan Lane and Metallica
John McCain and The White Stripes
Donald Trump and Toots & The Maytals (no longer funny thanks to our horrible future, also a big fuck you to SNL for having him host last year)

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

2016: My Year in Music

2016 has been consistently labeled a "garbage fire" by people who like to repeat phrases they hear, thanks to nightmarish global victories for authoritarianism, neo-fascism, and xenophobia and the loss of many beloved inspirational public figures, but I tend to think of 2016 as a kid walking home from school and just noticing that a group of bullies have locked eyes on him. 2016 was the unpreparedness, the shock, the surprise, the dread, and the slow realization of what's to come, but 2017 will be the beating, with the faint possibility of a last-minute miraculous defensive strategy and plans for regrouping and revenge. Meanwhile, the kid either repressed or failed to notice that those bullies spent the past several years beating on a lot of other kids who weren't him.
2016 was rough. 2017 will be rougher, but I see little droplets of hope in the sludge. Check back with me next year.
People die every minute. The 2016 memes got a little out of control, but I can get off my soapbox and admit the losses in music, film, literature, etc, this year were pretty heavy, the heaviest I can remember since that stretch from 2009 to 2010 that robbed the world at large and the private world in my heart of Vic Chesnutt, Rowland S. Howard, Barry Hannah, Alex Chilton, Andy Hummel, Mark Linkous, Captain Beefheart, Ari Up, Solomon Burke, Harvey Pekar, Dennis Hopper, Claude Chabrol, Eric Rohmer, and Ronnie freakin' James Dio, among many, many others. And on that note, these year-end obituary wrap-ups keep forgetting to mention Richard Lyons from Negativland, even the ones that remember Alan Vega and Tony Conrad and Pauline Oliveros. Stop forgetting Richard Lyons.

What was good about this year, or any year? The answer is always music. I like a lot of cool music and a lot of uncool music, and I don't see much difference between the two, other than shinier or less shiny pants and faces, degrees of dank obscurity and/or massive popularity, ages of the participants, and how many coke-addled dirtbags are in and on the peripheral scene. These are the new albums and reissues I acquired this year that I liked and that were released in 2016. I don't know how to make definitive best-of music lists. I don't know which of these albums I like the most, which I will still be listening to years from now, and all that jazz. I have only scratched the surface and will keep discovering 2016 records until I am as dead as your favorite dead celebrity of 2016. I've heard two pieces from the 75 Dollar Bill album Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock that are way up my alley, but you won't find it on this list because I don't have it yet. That's the problem with these things, but they're fun, and I like making them and looking at other people's, so bug off.

New releases I found at least some pleasure and joy in hearing in the year of our lord 2016 (in reverse chronological order, sorta)

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez - solo album series, released digitally every two weeks (A Lovejoy, Some Need It Lonely, Nom de Guerre Cabal, Zapopan, Weekly Mansions, Infinity Drips, Cell Phone Bikini, El bien y mal nos une, Umbrella Mistress, Arañas en la sombra, Blind Worms Pious Swine, Corazones, Sworn Virgins)
Neil Young - Peace Trail
The Men - Devil Music
Thee Oh Sees - A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances
Solange - A Seat at the Table
Mint Mile - The Bliss Point EP
Oneida & Rhys Chatham - What's Your Sign?
Lambchop - FLOTUS
ESP Ohio - Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean
Rihanna - Anti
People of the North - The Caul
Wilco - Schmilco
Angel Olsen - My Woman
Cass McCombs - Mangy Love
Sam Coomes - Bugger Me
Dinosaur Jr - Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Death Grips - Bottomless Pit
Neil Young & Promise of the Real - Earth
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs
John Frusciante - Foregrow EP
Melvins - Basses Loaded
Beyonce - Lemonade
Dalek - Asphalt for Eden
Destroyer - My Mystery EP
PJ Harvey - The Hope Six Demolition Project
Guided By Voices - Please Be Honest
Mike & The Melvins - Three Men and a Baby
Kaada/Patton - Bacteria Cult
White Denim - Stiff
Robert Pollard - Of Course You Are
Waco Brothers - Going Down in History
Freakwater - Scheherazade 
Field Music - Commontime
Nevermen - Nevermen
Eleanor Friedberger - New View
Moonsicles - Bay of Seething
Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
David Bowie -

2016 re-releases, reissues, compilations, and repackaging of the old that I enjoyed in 2016

Joseph Washington, Jr. - Merry Christmas to You
Various - Bobo Yéyé: Belle Époque in Upper Volta
Various - Shanghai'd Soul: Episode 4
Dow Jones & The Industrials - Can't Stand the Midwest 1979-1981
Chapells - Are You Ready for the Chapells?
Meic Stevens - Outlander  
Pisces - Somewhere in Your Mind
Master Wilburn Burchette - Transcendental Music for Meditation, Music of the Godhead for Supernatural Meditation, Guitar Grimoire, and Mind Storm
Blonde Redhead - Masculin Feminin and Peel Sessions EP
Cheap Nasties - 53rd and 3rd
This Heat - Deceit and Health and Efficiency EP (also recommend This Heat, but I didn't get the reissue because I already have a good copy)
The Scientists - A Place Called Bad
Various - Afterschool Special: The 123s of Kid Soul
Tucker Zimmerman - Song Poet
Tommy McGee - Positive - Negative
Circuit Rider - Photograph Attached
White Zombie - It Came from N.Y.C.
Various - Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park
Joanna Brouk - Hearing Music
Various - Los Alamos Grind
Arrogance - Knights of Dreams
Jimmy Carter & Dallas County Green - Summer Brings the Sunshine (not the president)
Various - 1st Annual Inner-City Talent Expo (March 26, 1972 Columbus, Ohio)
Various - Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music
94 East - The Cookhouse 5 (a teenage Prince on guitar)
Rob Galbraith - Damn It All
Various - Plastic Dance 1
Echo del Africa National - Recit historique de Bobo Dioulasso

Late to the party: 2015 releases I acquired in 2016

Boogarins - Manual
Soldiers of Fortune - Early Risers
Sun City Girls - Torch of the Mystics (reissue)
Harmonia - Complete Works (box set)

Live shows I seem to remember enjoying

Boogarins - Hotel Vegas residency
James Chance & The Contortions
Cobra Verde
Guided By Voices
Dinosaur Jr
Ice Cold Singles
The Residents
Eleanor Friedberger
Waco Brothers

Bands I played shows with in Austin that brought the heat

Abigail und Hansel (three times)
Sado Massachusetts (twice)
Rabbit Fist
Mitch Fraizer
Desert Stars (twice)
RaDaM (formerly Rhett & Dean)
She Sir
Will Courtney & The Wild Bunch
David Israel
Angry Beige

Last but not least but maybe least but maybe not, copies of my band The Early Stages' two 7-inches are still available at Bandcamp and our own website