Saturday, April 02, 2011

"We gotta stay fuckin' humble. The minute men! The tiny men! It's okay!"

"In our sets we would do little jams sometimes, tiny little things like a minute long, freeform. Just as a release or just to reassert some kind of humility. Everything doesn't have an answer, everything can't be explained, everything can't even be put in the right question."

"You just gotta ponder, like in that way, way beyond state. Like the way before. You know, music's a link with the way before, before the verbal. I think that's why it's so popular with us, because it links us and then it's very obvious, with someone like John Coltrane, you know, there's a link. We found joy, we found meaning before we found language. Music was probably one of these ways, and that's why it's still with us and we hold it up as sacred."

"And D. Boon, beautiful lead guitar - just enough notes! So econo! Beautiful!":

"And again, I only played [June 16th] for him once... You don't know, it was the easiest thing teachin' D. Boon a song. I grew up with him. I just play it. He'd fuckin' play right into it like osmosis, just soak right into it."

All above quotes by Mike Watt from

"Some big thunder law forces me to eat shit." Nice, somebody posted all the lyrics for Double Nickels On The Dime on a webpage where you don't even have to close a pop-up ring tone ad before you can read it!

It's been over a month since I saw the Chicago band Econoline play Double Nickels On The Dime by The Minutemen in its entirety, all 45 songs (even "Take 5, D" and "You Need The Glory"!), and they were incredibly good at it, really almost perfect, and even though I'd barely listened to the album in years, their show stirred everything up again, all the thoughts and questions and answers and melodies, riffs, licks, change-ups, epiphanies, asides, jokes, poems, ideas... shit from all our old notebooks... and I've still got the vinyl out six weeks later, though I've been listening more to some sweet vinyl-ripped mp3s of the album on the always demonically handy iTunes. I know how all the song titles go, and I know how all the songs go, but now I can actually figure out which go with which! And, I can easily jump right to the specific track I'm reading about in Michael T. Fournier's Double Nickels on the Dime 33⅓ book, which draws heavily from his above-linked-and-quoted interview with Watt, so all kinds of deep cuts are getting suitably deeper examination, and naturally new favorites are emerging... I mean, "Spillage" with its transparent Descendants roots but played mellower, folkier, D. Boon-ier, with that good ol' "my stoned (police state) mind just spilled that line" refrain... "No Exchange" with its nothing-but-the-build structural flip (transparent Pink Flag roots) holding yet another beguilingly sweet D. Boon melody and a lovely bass melody from Watt... "There Ain't Shit On TV Tonight," always a favorite, given new light after being sung at the Econoline show by one of many guest vocalists, Ian Adams. He was in The Ponys but I know him as the guy from Happy Supply, so I knew he would be perfect for this sly bossanova pop (and then he stayed on stage, suddenly cast against type, and led a perfect barnstorming classic-HC singalong version of "This Ain't No Picnic"!) Let's see, what else... love the two wistful beach-town instrumentals, "June 16th" and "Love Dance"... love the all-time classic port-town beer-hall sing-a-long dirge "Themselves" (come on and join in with me, "And aaaall the men who learn.... to hate them!") ... love the intro Big Ben chime of "The Big Foist"... love it when he says "Some big thunder law forces me to eat shit"... "Jesus and Tequila" was always a favorite, how couldn't it be, but damned if it doesn't sound better than ever... Carducci's lyric is so spot on, not a word is wasted... it helps knowing the back story as recounted in the Fournier book (that Carducci wrote the song for a whimsically projected D. Boon country music solo album to be called Hard Working Man), and also that Bobby Conn tore that song up at the Econoline show. Other guest vocalist highlights were Rebecca Flores from Tyler John Tyler, who tore up "Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing," a guy from Pelican who tore up "Shit From An Old Notebook," Damon Locks from The Eternals who did some killer dancing to "Mr. Robot's Holy Orders," and a teenage kid named Ruadhan Ward from Girls Rock! Chicago, the organization which the whole show was a benefit for. She did "History Lesson Part Two," a challenging tune to do justice to, and she was 100% perfect for it... which made me realize how great the lyrics to that song are because even though they are so autobiographical that they use "real names," they are not particularly gender-specific...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY D. BOON (April 1st, 1958)

This is soul music:

So this is the third time I've been disappointed with a new Kurt Vile record after my first listen. The other two were the Fall Demons 7-inch and the Childish Prodigy LP, both of which I now love. I'm still not sure if I'm going to love Smoke Ring For My Halo, but I am currently on my fourth listen and yep, I'm liking it more and more. There's no denying that the album has Kurt's most radio-friendly clean production-sheen, which initially put me off a little, but I also think his songwriting is less immediate here than in the past. The first song "Baby's Arms" is really great, in fact it's one of KV's top 5 ever, but after that, the songs are taking a little longer than usual to insinuate. I'm pretty impressed by the album closer, a dreamy and shiny beast called "Ghost Town," and there's a nice reprise of his old song "Red Apples," with different lyrics, called "Runner Ups," the tune not immediately recognizable (I always enjoy Kurt's 'cubist repertoire' moves). The song "On Tour" reminds me of a slightly sunnier take on Neil Young's "Bad Fog Of Lonlieness," with the line "I see through everyone, even my own self, noooowwwww" striking as a good musing on the downside of traditional hardcore/punk inquiry and scrutiny (and here we were, just talking about that all-time punk inquiry classic Double Nickels On The Dime). So far, my favorite tune other than "Baby's Arms" is a great dreamy song in the middle called "Society Is My Friend," the Violators laying down their distinctive drone-rock dream-style, backing one of those KV concepts that you kind of roll around in your brain along with him as the song plays out. Yeah, okay, it's already happening, I like this album quite a bit, and that slick production that might've been holding me back might be just the thing to make it a break through to a bunch of other people... but I do hope they get to hear Constant Hitmaker too...

The word that keeps coming to me regarding the Milvia Son label is "gross." Gross artwork, gross album titles, gross band names, gross typefaces, and of course, gross music. For example, they just sent a new 7" by their flagship band Bad Drumlin Grass, and it has a buncha gross naked people on the cover! They also sent an LP by one Jaki Jakizawa, and his grossly smiling hippie biker face fills the front cover via a gross screenprinting job, and the title of the record is Can You Feel The Juices?, which is totally gross! But, here's the kicker... gross isn't always a bad thing. Take the Jakizawa album. You could call it a synth record, and there are certainly a lot of synth records clogging the bins these days, but this one is a gross synth record. The A side is called "Period Fart" (hey, farts are gross!) and it's some sort of gross grinding synth techno-rave, a 13-minute excerpt from a jam that apparently went on for a few hours. It's goofy and kinda wrong, but hey, I'd much rather listen to it than some new "fully realized" album of very pleasant and of course very cosmic arpeggiator demonstrations packaged with full-color photographs of completely non-gross things like water and trees. And then Side Two, "Eros In Neon", isn't even gross. It's a more gentle synth soundscape that is actually somewhat legitimately cosmic, and certainly more loose, zoned, and malleable (both when it was performed and when it's subsequently listened to) than the work of any and all aforementioned unnamed equipment demonstrators.

As for that 7" by Milvia Son flagship band Bad Drumlin Grass, it features not only that gross picture sleeve but another left turn by the group. They did hardcore Saturnian blues and goofy punk improv on their first LP, they did some extended cosmic music of their own on their 2nd LP (also preferable to the work of all aforementioned unnamed synth collectors/demonstrators), and now on this 7" they're doing that classic avant-punk 7" move where the band does an avant-punk rock jam while a dude profanely rants over the top. Actually, it's not too profane, it's mostly awesome nonsense, except for one f-word... which apparently was enough for them to repeat the same song on Side B, but without the offending word! A clean radio version! What a weird hardcore punk improv novelty single. The music and vocals are actually excellent and kinda remind me of The Geeks. Milvia Son is giving this record away free for $3 shipping, go to for details... If you can handle the cover art laying around your house, you should do it!

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