Saturday, May 21, 2016

LIFE IS A RIP OFF by John "Inzane" Olson (THIRD MAN BOOKS) I'm not gonna be cooler-than-thou about it; this book is probably going to change my life. It's definitely gonna rewire my brain, and maybe even hotwire my heart. Until they do the reprint books of the entire run of Forced Exposure and Negative Guest List (and c'mon, "they" have gotta do both), this will go right on the shelf next to Carburetor Dung and Whore Just Like The Rest as my favorite book of music writing. After reading the (great) introductions by Bryan Ramirez, Ben "Hell" Hall, Tovah Olson, and Hank Rollins, I flipped around randomly, already feeling the synapses firing/remapping/refiring/etc and in fact overwhelmed by reviews of records I've never heard of that reference 7 more bands, 6 of which I've never heard of, not to mention all manner of non-musical references and allusions and deep feelings also contained within...... and that's when it hit me: if the guy wrote one review a day for entire year, maybe I should just read one review a day for an entire year. Start with today's date, May 11th, and just go forward from there. So far I've read about Iconoclasta (Mexican prog from the 90s??), False (contempo black metal from Minneapolis??), Dezerter (80s hardcore from Poland??), and Havohej (early one-man drum-machine black metal from upstate NY... hey, them I actually know!) Gotta be patient, but it's perfect; I can absorb one contained set of information at a time, head to the computer (or in some likely-to-be-extremely-rare Havohej-like instances, my own shelves), check out the tunes right then and there, sit with them for the day, and onward. Slow listening, right? Kudos to Mr. Olson. Kudos to Third Man Books for a job well chosen and well done. Kudos to Mr. Rollins for his phrase "to butterfly stroke the ancient ooze of tune begatment." And finally, out of all the hilarious, wacked-out, and heartfelt lines in here I could quote, I'll just mention that the (December 21, 2012) review of Deep Purple In Rock begins with the phrase "If pure nut grinding is your business..." P.S. Are you kidding me, just read today's entry and it's "Side 3 & 4" of Maxine J. Van Eenam Live Piano Selections 3-20-72 acetate, found at a thrift store in East Lansing, MI, "total mystery edition of 1," "side long piano mournful wanderings with a killer lo-fi 'no one is around' loner ambiance," "has an almost hashish dust glow to the jams and pitched down 4% some sonic spots are just plain dark-evil goth," "the chances of you ear-peeping this if you are not in the shadow of the John-zone beast is ZIP ZERO"... man...

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Lots to chew on in this BOMB Magazine interview with 75 DOLLAR BILL.

I wanna buy this book. Speaking of which, there was also a BOMB Magazine interview with its author, John Corbett. Lots to chew on there too, especially if you like records. (I'm pretty sure you like records.) LOTS of great interviews in BOMB Magazine besides these.

Buncha truly great mixes by Mixcloud user Tristes Tropiques, aka Jon Dale, the music writer who brought you the absolutely utterly crucial "Story of UK DIY: 131 experimental underground classics from 1977-1985" piece for Fact Magazine, and many more over the years. On his Mixcloud account, you might as well start with the Have You Checked The Children series, a very extensive historical survey of the New Zealand post-punk underground. (But hey: be careful on that site and pay attention to the track listing because you can't rewind! Once you start a mix, it has to play until the end before you can hear a song again.)

The Dusted Magazine Listed feature with Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance which hipped me to said Mixcloud, as well as Joe McPhee's crazy "Cosmic Love."

The song "Snerl," by Wallsockets, which was released in New Zealand in 1981, I discovered on Have You Checked The Children #1 in 2016, and is my new favorite song. "I'm not a human at all / I'm really not a human at all / I'm a snerl / I'm a snerl."

The Wikipedia page for the album Songs of Leonard Cohen, which confirms that the haunting female vocals on "Suzanne" (and two other songs, you probably know which) were sung by the mother of Christina Applegate, which I only found out because sometimes I fall into deep late-night-talk-show celebrity-interview YouTube rabbit holes and I watched a clip of Ms. Applegate on the Jimmy Kimmel show tell stories of her childhood in which she kept name-checking Stephen Stills' Manassas.

Before Mondrian, Native American Women Painted Abstract Art On Saddlebags

Neoliberalism - the ideology at the root of all our problems

OK, that's all, I can lose these and restart this damn computer now...

Friday, April 29, 2016


One bright side of the sad news about Prince is all of the videos currently on YouTube, which wasn't always the case. As far as I can tell the actual LP tracks are still hard to find, which I support (buy used LPs, unless they spike in price like Bowie's, and I think all of his music is available on Tidal), especially if random live clips like this one (Live at the Brits in 2006) are allowed to sprout up overnight like glowing purple Spanish moss. Watching all of these has been a great way to rediscover and pay tribute to the man, seeing him rip so many scorching guitar solos, all of his dance moves, how he controls the song and the stage. It doesn't matter if he was making good albums or not, or whatever kind of embattled and/or fallen-off era it was in his career, his live performances were always a force of nature, all notes essential (Neil Young was also like this onstage, throughout the 80s and 90s and always, see the A Perfect Echo fan compilation for proof). I still don't plan to really listen to any of the seemingly 30 albums Prince released since the last one I paid attention too (The Love Symbol Album from 1992), but here's a performance from 2006, right in the thick of what I honestly then perceived as his grand old superstar irrelevance, and it's just goddamn great. He starts out with some MOR Santana knockoff that he had released that year, just the kind of song I was avoiding at the time, and he's playing and singing and dancing every single note like it's the most important one ever. It's not a great song, but it's still stunning just how great this dude is/was, and his bands were always superb too. I don't know who the drummer and bassist are here, but he's got Sheila E. on percussion and is reunited with Wendy & Lisa. Ms. Melvoin really is a tight-as-hell rhythm guitarist, and Ms. Coleman picks up right where she left off, suffusing the music with ethereal elegant background beauty. And who else would also have three Barbarellas in diaphanous blue dancing next to him, with one of them turning out to be a heavy background singer on "Purple Rain"? No one else.

Many other videos are recommended, such as a completely bombastic 2011 version of "The Beautiful Ones" on George Lopez, in which he gives equal billing to Misty Copeland, the future Principal Ballerina of the American Ballet Theater, and holds his own. Or the way he jives with the crowd in this solo acoustic set, or goes full Joni in this one. Or this scorching version of "Bambi" from 1990. There's lots more (all the interviews too), but one video I don't enjoy is the SNL after party. Just a little too #fratty, although it does rule when Prince says "Dearly inebriated..." (BTW, I suspect that Mark and Brix may have been intentionally channeling the Revolution in this 1988 performance, just wanted to get that off my chest.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Good god I love Thin Lizzy more than ever. Somehow it took me until really just a year or two ago to finally listen to the Eric Bell albums in depth, and they're so goddamn good I made a Spotify playlist called "THIN LIZZY - BEST OF THE ERIC BELL YEARS," which includes my favorite album tracks, as well as non-LP tracks, all in more or less chronological order as released from 1971 through 1973, all with Eric Bell on guitar. I swear I'm on the verge of tears during at least every other song. You might find opening track "Honesty Is No Excuse" to be kind of a slow (and mellotron-laden) start, but it's Phil at his majesticly vulnerable best and how about that delayed drum entrance; know that they had more pronounced folk/blues/jazz/Celtic overtones as a trio with Eric Bell, which were buffed out by more metallic riffage after he left; not that Bell couldn't get heavy, which you'll hear if you hang in there for "Return of the Farmer's Son," which Phil sings the hell out of over a downright Sabbathian groove. Another current fave is Vagabonds-era B-side "Cruisin' in the Lizzymobile," which is such a funky band theme song ("crui-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-ooh-uh-ooh-ooh-uh-uisin"), and also an awestruck ode to LSD. The way Phil trades off the vocal with Bell gets me every single time, especially when the latter sings "Don't complain / You may never feel like this again..."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The baddest-ass Nina Simone clip on YouTube is whichever one you saw last. Especially if it's "Be My Husband."

I'm in that camp that says that every month, not just February, is Black History Month, and every month, not just March, is Women's History Month, but hey, it is March, so how about some music by another Black Woman?

And now for something not necessarily completely different, here's some music by a white man, footage of the late Arthur Russell performing songs from World of Echo, filmed by Phill Niblock:

Over an hour of Russell/Niblock footage, in fact:

A person on the internet was just talking about Marion Brown's Sweet Earth Flying, which reminded me that it's my favorite Marion Brown LP. (Special thanks to Why Not? and Afternoon of a Georgia Faun.) I already knew this, but listened today for the first time in years and it sounds better than ever. I had forgotten that both Muhal Richard Abrams and Paul Bley are in the band on dualing electric and acoustic pianos, sometimes doing a little Silent Waying and Bitches Brewing, even some Lawrence of Newarking on organ, but mostly doing their own sweet and strange thing. The 5-minute solo electric piano intro by Paul Bley makes it easy to imagine our sweet earth flying from say a hundred miles away, while Brown's darkly gentle and pensive alto and soprano saxophone solos introduce the element of unstable gravity. Another AACM member, and founding member of Air, Steve McCall is on drums... a couple guys I haven't heard of, James Jefferson and Bill Hasson are on bass and percussion (and narration) respectively. The record label is Impulse! and the year of release is 1974.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

SPACIN' Total Freedom LP (RICHIE)

Man... Spacin'. Spacin', man. The lips are back, and this time they're over the mountain. Their first album Deep Thuds from 2012 is superb, and Total Freedom is the brand new (long-awaited?! has it really been four years?!) 2016 follow-up. Spacin' are a band from Philadelphia that play some sort of tranced-out supergunk Stooges/Stones caveman ballcap glampop psychedelia, with stony low-end guitar/drum grooves and sub-cranial hooks. In many ways Total Freedom just does the same thing the first album did all over again, and why not repeat a result that rules? Both records begin with a spaced-out upbeat rifforama rocker that fades into a spaced-out free-form instrumental blowout (on Deep Thuds it's "Empty Mind" into "Some Future Burger" and on Total Freedom it's "Over Uneasy" into "Kensington Real.") Both albums have a late-side-one stripped-down night-skull garage-pop hummer (On DT it's "Chest of Steel" and on TF it's the fabulous "Titchy"). Both albums have an 'African' jam (DT: "Oh, Man"; TF: "Stopping Man").  I should note that even though many of these templates are perfected on Total Freedom, especially the ultra-catchy ultra-groovy ultra-titchy "Titchy" and the blown-out-to-over-8-minutes-long "Over Uneasy," it still might not even top Deep Thuds. That's not a dis on Total Freedom, that's just a measure of how good both albums are. I'm already stoked for Spacin' III! (On pace to be released in 2020!)

"Over Uneasy" live:

P.S. This live Spacin' vid brought to you by the Orthoponix channel, which I can't recommend highly enough for live clips of much of the great current Philly underground, as well as fellow travellers who have passed through...

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