December 23, 2005

The Sequin Ambrosia mix series dips into all things house, from the purist sounds of mid-‘80s Chicago to the click action of modern-day Berlin.

00:00: Murat Tepeli (w/ Prosumer) – “Rides” (Playhouse, 2005)

As exemplified in “Rides,” nothing identifies quality purist, throwback house music like a perky minor key acid squelch. Speaking of throwback house, newcomer Murat Tepeli may just lead the pack in ‘06 in facilitating an actual “scene” in this trend. It’s happening for disco, so house may get the nostalgia treatment in the near future. Fingers crossed.

[buy stuff here]

04:51: George Demure – “New Confrontation” (Output, 2005)

Production wise, “New Confrontation” may keep its foundation in house, but it’s vocally rooted in the goth-rock of Bauhaus and Gene Loves Jezebel. Sequin Ambrosia II has a generally darker feel than round one did, and George Demure provides a good indication of this.

[buy stuff here]

07:56: M&M – “Get off Your Butt” (Trax, 1989)

Trax will likely always nab at least one slot in each of the Sequin chronicles. The label not only first brought the budding scene to wax in the 1980s but still harbors some of the best joints in the genre. OK, so “Get off Your Butt” may not be a downright classic, but it’s a delightful hip-hop crossover gem with enough block party MC spunk to power your strobe setup.

[buy stuff here]

11:20: Out Hud – “It’s for You (Rub n’ Tug’s Panarava Mix)” (Kranky, 2005)

A Bay Area dance-rock outfit may not be a default entry into the annals of Sequin, but Rub n’ Tug provides a remix with just enough spacious production—the tinkling pianos don’t hurt either—to make the cut.

[buy stuff here]

17:59: Adjuster vs. Tonka – “All Over Again (Tonka Mix)” (Disco Inc., 2005)

Adjuster and Tonka provide the only blatant “feel good” track of the bunch. It comes off something like a more digital-leaning version of Mylo’s “In Your Arms,” proof that Disco Inc. may just be the eventual saviors of this house thing.

[buy stuff here]

22:36: Maurice – “This Is Acid (A New Dance Craze) (S&T Mix)” (Breakout, 1988)

“This Is Acid” is one of the most obvious songs in recorded history. It partakes in a notorious, undying trend in house music: repeating a vocal sample declaring the genre of music at hand over and over. In this case, “acid” is the unfaltering avowal. “So many questions have been made about this new dance craze called acid / What people really want to know is how the story really goes about acid.” Verses like these are interluded by such pivotal phrases as, “This is acid / I’m giving you acid,” and, “Can you feel it? / Acid’s in the air.” Eventually, Maurice feels compelled to belt out a, “Jack the house.” Not only is the song lyrically palpable, it sounds exactly like what comes to mind when one thinks of acid house. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice little number, and it fits our pursuit.

[buy stuff here]

29:00: Michael Mayer & Matias Aguayo – “Slow” (Kompakt, 2005)

Sequin Ambrosia II includes a brief stint of Kylie mania in two parts. Part one is Kompakt heroes Michael Mayer and Matias Aguayo’s take on the aging starlet’s late 2003 single, “Slow.” It’s a fine cover, extrapolating on the dark nature of Kylie’s original.

[buy stuff here]

34:45: Kylie Minogue – “Giving You Up (Riton Re-Rub Vox)” (Parlophone, 2005)

Part two sees Riton recrafting this ‘05-released Ultimate Kylie single. Here’s proof that while Kylie’s not busy giving breast cancer the curbside elbow drop, she’s commissioning some amazing remixes. It’s a shocker Parlophone deemed this particular one as marketably appropriate.

[buy stuff here]

40:15: Salamandos – “Jack That Dick” (Clone, 2005)

It’s no secret that Salamandos is making fun of tracks like the aforementioned “This Is Acid” as much as he’s paying homage to them. With rosy lines like, “Jack that dick / That’s right / Smack yo’ thang,” Salamandos rightfully accentuates the goofy annals of house history.

[buy stuff here]

45:23: Matias Aguayo – “Are You Really Lost” (Kompakt, 2005)

Aguayo’s second appearance sees him breaking the long tradition of the perpetual, unyielding 4/4 kickdrum in house music. Somehow, even without this crucial element, the song is still very much a house track. (Perhaps it’s the homoerotic grunts and woofs.)

[buy stuff here]

48:27: Unai – “Oh You and I (Unai 12-Inch Mix)” (Disco Inc., 2005)

Upon participating in the grueling process of compiling year-end singles lists (reap the benefits here), many dance music enthusiasts snuck in “Oh You and I” at the last possible minute. It’s quite simply the best house single of the year, and it’s been sadly overlooked by stateside and British audiences. With any luck, Unai’s debut full length, A Love Medicine, will turn this injustice around.

[buy stuff here]

54:27: Ray Charles – “I Got a Woman (Diplo Remix)” (Self Released, 2005)

This is the point in which many of you will stop listening. No offense taken here. It’s a stupidly ballsy move on my part. Firstly, it’s not really a house track at all. (It has its house tendencies, and it’s perhaps the closest Diplo has come to house, but it’s just not house.) Secondly, it’s a remix of “Gold Digger,” a love-it-or-hate-it future relic of 2005, a song that will be soon forgotten and seldom missed. But, well, it makes me chuckle. So I squeezed it in. (Sorry.)

[buy stuff here]

Will Simmons | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

The Sequin Ambrosia mix series dips into all things house, from the purist sounds of mid-‘80s Chicago to the click action of modern-day Berlin.

00:00: Murat Tepeli (w/ Prosumer) – “Rides” (Playhouse, 2005)

As exemplified in “Rides,” nothing identifies quality purist, throwback house music like a perky minor key acid squelch. Speaking of throwback house, newcomer Murat Tepeli may just lead the pack in ‘06 in facilitating an actual “scene” in this trend. It’s happening for disco, so house may get the nostalgia treatment in the near future. Fingers crossed.

[buy stuff here]

04:51: George Demure – “New Confrontation” (Output, 2005)

Production wise, “New Confrontation” may keep its foundation in house, but it’s vocally rooted in the goth-rock of Bauhaus and Gene Loves Jezebel. Sequin Ambrosia II has a generally darker feel than round one did, and George Demure provides a good indication of this.

[buy stuff here]

07:56: M&M – “Get off Your Butt” (Trax, 1989)

Trax will likely always nab at least one slot in each of the Sequin chronicles. The label not only first brought the budding scene to wax in the 1980s but still harbors some of the best joints in the genre. OK, so “Get off Your Butt” may not be a downright classic, but it’s a delightful hip-hop crossover gem with enough block party MC spunk to power your strobe setup.

[buy stuff here]

11:20: Out Hud – “It’s for You (Rub n’ Tug’s Panarava Mix)” (Kranky, 2005)

A Bay Area dance-rock outfit may not be a default entry into the annals of Sequin, but Rub n’ Tug provides a remix with just enough spacious production—the tinkling pianos don’t hurt either—to make the cut.

[buy stuff here]

17:59: Adjuster vs. Tonka – “All Over Again (Tonka Mix)” (Disco Inc., 2005)

Adjuster and Tonka provide the only blatant “feel good” track of the bunch. It comes off something like a more digital-leaning version of Mylo’s “In Your Arms,” proof that Disco Inc. may just be the eventual saviors of this house thing.

[buy stuff here]

22:36: Maurice – “This Is Acid (A New Dance Craze) (S&T Mix)” (Breakout, 1988)

“This Is Acid” is one of the most obvious songs in recorded history. It partakes in a notorious, undying trend in house music: repeating a vocal sample declaring the genre of music at hand over and over. In this case, “acid” is the unfaltering avowal. “So many questions have been made about this new dance craze called acid / What people really want to know is how the story really goes about acid.” Verses like these are interluded by such pivotal phrases as, “This is acid / I’m giving you acid,” and, “Can you feel it? / Acid’s in the air.” Eventually, Maurice feels compelled to belt out a, “Jack the house.” Not only is the song lyrically palpable, it sounds exactly like what comes to mind when one thinks of acid house. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice little number, and it fits our pursuit.

[buy stuff here]

29:00: Michael Mayer & Matias Aguayo – “Slow” (Kompakt, 2005)

Sequin Ambrosia II includes a brief stint of Kylie mania in two parts. Part one is Kompakt heroes Michael Mayer and Matias Aguayo’s take on the aging starlet’s late 2003 single, “Slow.” It’s a fine cover, extrapolating on the dark nature of Kylie’s original.

[buy stuff here]

34:45: Kylie Minogue – “Giving You Up (Riton Re-Rub Vox)” (Parlophone, 2005)

Part two sees Riton recrafting this ‘05-released Ultimate Kylie single. Here’s proof that while Kylie’s not busy giving breast cancer the curbside elbow drop, she’s commissioning some amazing remixes. It’s a shocker Parlophone deemed this particular one as marketably appropriate.

[buy stuff here]

40:15: Salamandos – “Jack That Dick” (Clone, 2005)

It’s no secret that Salamandos is making fun of tracks like the aforementioned “This Is Acid” as much as he’s paying homage to them. With rosy lines like, “Jack that dick / That’s right / Smack yo’ thang,” Salamandos rightfully accentuates the goofy annals of house history.

[buy stuff here]

45:23: Matias Aguayo – “Are You Really Lost” (Kompakt, 2005)

Aguayo’s second appearance sees him breaking the long tradition of the perpetual, unyielding 4/4 kickdrum in house music. Somehow, even without this crucial element, the song is still very much a house track. (Perhaps it’s the homoerotic grunts and woofs.)

[buy stuff here]

48:27: Unai – “Oh You and I (Unai 12-Inch Mix)” (Disco Inc., 2005)

Upon participating in the grueling process of compiling year-end singles lists (reap the benefits here), many dance music enthusiasts snuck in “Oh You and I” at the last possible minute. It’s quite simply the best house single of the year, and it’s been sadly overlooked by stateside and British audiences. With any luck, Unai’s debut full length, A Love Medicine, will turn this injustice around.

[buy stuff here]

54:27: Ray Charles – “I Got a Woman (Diplo Remix)” (Self Released, 2005)

This is the point in which many of you will stop listening. No offense taken here. It’s a stupidly ballsy move on my part. Firstly, it’s not really a house track at all. (It has its house tendencies, and it’s perhaps the closest Diplo has come to house, but it’s just not house.) Secondly, it’s a remix of “Gold Digger,” a love-it-or-hate-it future relic of 2005, a song that will be soon forgotten and seldom missed. But, well, it makes me chuckle. So I squeezed it in. (Sorry.)

[buy stuff here]

Will Simmons | 8:00 am | Comments (3)

December 22, 2005

It’s that time of year once more, a time when the music critics gather around and dance in glee. That’s right, it’s year-end list time. I love this season because it combines two of my favorite things, lists and snow. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am not ruined to snow like I might be if I lived elsewhere, and it’s a rare enough occurrence that it still shuts my city down like a frightened child under a bed, worried about cars slipping down hills. I can nestle snugly in my house, with the heat on and the stereo blaring, assembling my lists of top ten, twenty, fifty records of the year, separated and catalogued by genre, artist, release date, et al.

I’m sure you’re wondering if I have a point. Probably not, in the larger scheme of things. Really, I just like cocooning myself against the biting cold, and that feeling is probably my main theme. But there’s one song that makes me feel as if winter is perfect, as if all the snow is in fact a divine clearing of the slate rather than just really cold and wet. It is a succinct summing-up of what exactly snow feels like; the experience of gazing upon vast untouched fields of purest white. That song, “Hiszékeny,” is off of my favorite electronic release of the year, Venetian Snares’ Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett. Besides being a drill and bass masterwork, Aaron Funk’s command of subtle orchestration is the real reason to check this record out. While the Canadian producer is more than a little prolific, his entire catalogue pales in comparison to the icy beauty that Rossz Csillag conveys. The beats are kept in check, with the haunting strings in the background supporting the loops and electronic manipulation rather than fighting them in some sort of cheeky, ironic counterpoint.

Now, I’m not usually one to listen to this kind of electronic music, I’ll be the first to admit. My tastes run more towards the lighter side, the more melodic glitchiness of lap-pop like the Notwist and Lali Puna. But for some reason, this album grabbed me by the throat, topping even the majesty of 13 + god’s debut. This song in particular, with the spastic orgy of beats being notoriously absent, is a bit of a respite, a rest in the middle of an otherwise taxing album. It’s a short song, not even two minutes, but it’s necessary to give the listener a well-needed breather in between some of the most confusing sonic assaults I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The chimes and synthesizers in the background evoke a feeling of pleasant chilliness, with a harp plucked as lightly as soft as snow falls to the ground. I can’t help but feel a little shiver (perhaps not just out of the intangible feeling of enjoyment, but also maybe because this song makes me honestly cold) and think about putting on mittens whenever I hear it. Simply put, it’s gorgeous.

[buy stuff here]

Jeff Echert | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

It’s that time of year once more, a time when the music critics gather around and dance in glee. That’s right, it’s year-end list time. I love this season because it combines two of my favorite things, lists and snow. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am not ruined to snow like I might be if I lived elsewhere, and it’s a rare enough occurrence that it still shuts my city down like a frightened child under a bed, worried about cars slipping down hills. I can nestle snugly in my house, with the heat on and the stereo blaring, assembling my lists of top ten, twenty, fifty records of the year, separated and catalogued by genre, artist, release date, et al.

I’m sure you’re wondering if I have a point. Probably not, in the larger scheme of things. Really, I just like cocooning myself against the biting cold, and that feeling is probably my main theme. But there’s one song that makes me feel as if winter is perfect, as if all the snow is in fact a divine clearing of the slate rather than just really cold and wet. It is a succinct summing-up of what exactly snow feels like; the experience of gazing upon vast untouched fields of purest white. That song, “Hiszékeny,” is off of my favorite electronic release of the year, Venetian Snares’ Rossz Csillag Allat Szuletett. Besides being a drill and bass masterwork, Aaron Funk’s command of subtle orchestration is the real reason to check this record out. While the Canadian producer is more than a little prolific, his entire catalogue pales in comparison to the icy beauty that Rossz Csillag conveys. The beats are kept in check, with the haunting strings in the background supporting the loops and electronic manipulation rather than fighting them in some sort of cheeky, ironic counterpoint.

Now, I’m not usually one to listen to this kind of electronic music, I’ll be the first to admit. My tastes run more towards the lighter side, the more melodic glitchiness of lap-pop like the Notwist and Lali Puna. But for some reason, this album grabbed me by the throat, topping even the majesty of 13 + god’s debut. This song in particular, with the spastic orgy of beats being notoriously absent, is a bit of a respite, a rest in the middle of an otherwise taxing album. It’s a short song, not even two minutes, but it’s necessary to give the listener a well-needed breather in between some of the most confusing sonic assaults I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The chimes and synthesizers in the background evoke a feeling of pleasant chilliness, with a harp plucked as lightly as soft as snow falls to the ground. I can’t help but feel a little shiver (perhaps not just out of the intangible feeling of enjoyment, but also maybe because this song makes me honestly cold) and think about putting on mittens whenever I hear it. Simply put, it’s gorgeous.

[buy stuff here]

Jeff Echert | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

‘All my favorite singers couldn’t sing,’ David Berman of the Silver Jews proclaims to us in his song “We Are Real” from his landmark album American Water. In many ways I agree with him. Whether it’s the mumbling of Bob Dylan, the ‘I must sing flat on at least one song per album’ of Morrissey, or the rhythmic talking of Destroyer, many of my favorite singers can’t really sing.

I have struggled with this for quite a while. Why is it that I am drawn to the squawky, the flat and the cracking? Why is it that I feel like punching something whenever I hear someone say ‘I like Leonard Cohen’s songs, just not when he’s singing them’? Am I merely being caught up in some non-comforming-comformists movement in which I think I’m being all counter-cultural by proclaiming my love for these artists, when in actual fact I’m only doing it because it is currently cool to like poor singers? Or is there more to it than that? In spite of the current trend to have a lead singer who has an unconventional voice (think Wolf Parade or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!), I still believe there is more to this attraction than that. But what exactly could it be?

Often, the singer’s voice serves to prop up the significance and meaning of the lyrics of the song. Take Jon Rae and the River’s rendition of Joy Division’s song “Disorder” as an example: “Disorder” is a song that, if you look closer, is very irritating and unsettling. Through lyrics such as ‘it’s getting faster, moving faster now. It’s getting out of hand,’ the song comes across as speaking of a fragile moment that is beyond any sense of control. You can never listen to “Disorder” and relax. It just won’t let you get there.

Just as Ian Curtis did with his off-setting vocal inflections, Jon Rae Fletcher brings “Disorder” into a more country setting and sings it with a sense of vulnerability. He works his voice alongside the lyrics in a captivating fashion in which way he never allows his voice to fully settle into place just as the lyrics do. It is at all times in danger of falling apart. As a result, he offers up a stunning rendition of a much beloved song that gives it new life through the weakness of his voice.

I find weak singing fascinating because it adds an element of struggle that is often missing in more slick, nicely produced music. Carey Mercer from Victoria, British Columbia’s Frog Eyes is a key example of an artist who is compelling so long as he continues to confound. It is primarily in a live setting where you really get a sense of the struggle inherent in the work of Frog Eyes. You fall into a state of shock and awe as you sit and watch this quiet and unassuming gentlemen walk on stage only to explode into a state of hysterical singing, backed by an equally offsetting band. You think to yourself ‘my God, what have you done!’ Mercer sings as though the true meaning beneath the surface of Frog Eyes’ material is constantly trying to break open through Mercer, but is being forced back down at all times.

This is apparent in their recordings as well, as is evident in the song “Time Destroys its Plan at the Reactionary Table.” What is Mercer trying to say when he sings ‘I find it unacceptable that they make concessions to the world to the running of the world to the churning of the world … GET BENEATH ME, BIRD’? Frog Eyes will always leave you with more questions than answers when you listen to their music.

None of this is to give some intrinsic value to flawed singers. I don’t like Bob Dylan, Jon Rae Fletcher, or Carey Mercer purely because they are ‘imperfect’ singers. Nor am I saying that any singer that is well trained isn’t worth listening to. I adore the harmonies of the Beach Boys and the crooning of Harry Nilsson. What I’m saying is that there is something intriguing in midst of the imperfections of these singers that is often missing in more conventional voices. It’s through the cracks and squawks of the singer where we, time and time again, receive a glimpse, however fleeting, of the true brilliance at work in the song.

[buy stuff here/here]

Jeff Friesen | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

December 20, 2005

Leaving is an American tradition. Like baseball and truck stops, the unexplained early-morning departure—preferably performed in worn denim and a day-old beard—is a solemn celebration of all that is restless, noble, and probably pointless. We dream of waking with the sun, leaving short but heartfelt notes for those who dress the windows of our perpetually romantic landscape-artist lives, and rattling closed-mouthed out of town—but we don’t actually do it much, and when we do it’s in smaller, less obviously cinematic ways: we usually have an embarassingly practical idea of where we’re going, and a few more neatly packed suitcases than we’d be comfortable showing Jack Kerouac. Which is why it can be nice, while we’re driving our relentlessly preplanned route in our disgustingly functional cars, to put something on the stereo that’ll make us feel more spontaneous.

Bob Dylan’s loping masterpiece “Seńor (Tales of Yankee Power)” is, like a lot of the really good Dylan songs that don’t show up in health-care ads or Vietnam movies, buried halfway through a mediocre album: 1978’s “Street Legal”, a haze of weirdly thin vocals, shambling, overstuffed song structures, and hyperactive platoons of backup singers belting out Dylan’s lyrics like chorus girls in a posthumous tribute musical. With “Seńor,” however, Dylan slows down, tightens up, and trims the gargantuan folds of newfound fat from his music. Spare and momentous, the song evokes endless travel with an aching confusion that turns gently but inexorably to majestic portent, a change foreshadowed in the first line: “Can you tell me where we’re heading? / Lincoln County Road or Armageddon? / Seems like I been down this way before…” The imagery and deceptively specific Americana references are as thick here as in anything Dylan had written since he was subsisting entirely on acid in the mid-60s, but the song never gets cluttered; it just builds, takes its time, clatters down ancient railroad tracks and past brief flashes of lyrical illumination—painted wagons, gypsies with flashing rings, trainloads of fools bogged down in magnetic fields—until Dylan, having made ready for yet another unavoidable departure, concludes the penultimate verse with the weary intonation “I’m ready when you are, Seńor”. It’s one of the best-delivered lines in the man’s canon, but it gets nudged down a spot when the last verse rolls around and the arid majesty of the music joins with a sudden, unfailingly hair-raising wail: “Let’s overturn these tables / Disconnect these cables / This place don’t make sense to me no more! / Can you tell me what we’re waiting for, Seńor?” It’s stark, weary poetry, and it’s fantastic.

Modest Mouse’s chaotic seven-minute semi-jam “Other People’s Lives” is as different from “Seńor”’s desert-dry rattle as you can get, and Isaac Brock’s paranoid histrionics, sounding like he’s afraid the music might swallow him whole, are nothing like Dylan’s ancient, wandering pronouncements. But the trailer-park-born Brock’s nervous, Day-Glo poetry comes from the same place as Dylan’s, however polluted that place might now be with discarded styrofoam and fast-food wrappers. Built around a gasping two-note pulse of guitar, “Other People’s Lives” opens with the kind of pithy mantra that bookends a lot of Modest Mouse’s more lyrically hyperactive songs: “Other people’s lives seem more interesting ’cause they ain’t mine”. It’s an overture for the narrative, which really begins with Brock’s declaration that “I’m fed up and I need to go / Out of existence, or just down the road forever” and cuts, immediately, to “later that night by the side of the road / I’m out of gas and I should have known better”. It would be difficult to essay restless bravado’s frequent failure more succinctly or wryly than this. Brock’s verse is scattershot and disjointed, and the band plays shrinking circles around the melody, converging on an unintelligible section of multitracked mumbling from which, as we strain, an escalating chant emerges: “on the road / goin’ down / out of gas / out of road / out of car / out of everything at last”—a spare, pitch-perfect evocation of American Zen that Brock and company spun out from a less memorable song on 1997’s “The Lonesome Crowded West”. It was worth reusing.

Dylan and Brock are very different songwriters, and the bands playing on “Seńor” and “Other People’s Lives” are very different bands. But the songs share a sense of forward motion—more, of COMPULSIVE forward motion, of an inexorable restlessness that, met with reluctance in Dylan’s song or petty disaster in Brock’s, cannot but overwhelm its hosts. Both singers understand and narrate American departure, and even if the Baby Boomers’ poet laureate and the aggressive frontman of “The O.C.”’s second-biggest success story don’t meet that often, when they do it’s after leaving a place that don’t make sense no more, it’s with the harsh comfort of knowing you’re out of everything at last, and it’s absolutely sublime.

[buy stuff here/here]

Theon Weber | 8:00 am | Comments (4)

December 19, 2005

This is the time of year when, for better or worse, year-end lists get compiled. Usually this is a time when I’m forced to finally realize—not just know, but realize in that part of my brain that’s responsible for overseeing the grand narrative of me-ness—that an entire year has passed since that last New Year’s party. This year, I’m still deep in denial. Something about 2005 just didn’t want to neatly conclude when I abstracted it like some kind of coherent and analyzable mass of shared collective experiences. After some consideration, I’ve decided to manufacture some closure for myself by examining the iTunes playlists I made throughout the year, remembering which songs I listened to on repeat for days, and trying to eradicate “My Humps” from memory by any means necessary.

Near the beginning of 2005, I see the usual, a lot of krautrock. Those Can re-releases from 2004 were still in heavy rotation. MIA starts sneaking onto some of them, too. According to iTunes, I preferred Piracy Funds Terrorism to Arular. Living in Brooklyn, I soon got to a point where I wanted to never hear either again.

Judging from how many times iTunes says I listened to “How Long,” it’s reasonable to assume that I must have liked that Out Hud album, Let Us Never Speak of it Again. Yes, I think it reminded me of a much more produced ESG. This didn’t get enough attention.

But then, neither did Gang Gang Dance. I remember being excited when God’s Money was released, hopeful that maybe Brooklyn was going to be the site of a new scene where all beats were “tribal,” all instrumentation was lush, and every band was fronted by its own Kate Bush clone. “Glory in Itself (Egyptian)” is Brooklyn’s answer to “The Dreaming.”

Over the summer and into the fall, I had The Juan Maclean’s Less Than Human on repeat for the duration. “Give Me Every Little Thing” is the album’s Funkadelic tribute. I still listen to this one. My neighbors rue the day it was released.

In the past few months, the only thing I’ve been able to get into is Isolée. I bought We Are Monster because I saw a quote from Kenny Dope on the cover endorsing it. “Schrapnell” reminds me of Brian Eno’s “Deep Blue Day.” Moral of the story: if Kenny Dope says it’s good, it is.

Happy New Year.

[buy stuff here/here/here/here]

Jessica Graves | 8:00 am | Comments (8)

December 16, 2005

It had been an eventful year for Cindy Steenburg.

First there was the incident when she desperately wanted Skip Whelan to ask her out and she tried her hardest to drop hints and she even told her best friend to ask his best friend but instead he went out with a girl who didn’t even go to Kennedy High and wasn’t even that pretty.

Then there was the time when a total freakazoid called Bobby started following her around and making puppy-dog eyes at her. As if!

So what was a self-respecting, cheerleading, bakesale-organising junior to do when her love life is a total wreck? Go shopping, of course.

And it was at the mall, on that fateful Saturday afternoon, when Cindy bumped into Todd McCaughey. Literally.

Todd was running along in that awkward, slightly geeky way he always did, not looking around to notice Cindy browsing through some totally amazing dresses, when he ran straight into her, knocking her off her feet. Although not in the way Cindy had often imagined Kevin Bacon doing it. Not even close.

But in that moment, with Todd’s face close up to hers, she noticed something she’d never noticed in a whole year of Mrs Beinschmerz’s Biology class. Todd was actually kind of cute.

As they rose to their feet and straightened their clothes, Todd smiled at her with an embarrassed look and a little zap of electricity ran through Cindy’s spine. Neither quite knew what to say at that moment, but they spluttered out some words and pretty soon found themselves talking away like old friends. Which would have been so mortifying if Cindy’s friends had walked by at that moment.
But this was no ordinary time in the life of Cindy Steenburg. It was only two weeks to the prom, and she still hadn’t found a date. And she wondered which social fate could be worse – not going at all, or going with Todd McCaughey.

She didn’t wonder for long, because Todd was already stumbling over the words to ask her to that night of nights. And to her surprise, Cindy found herself saying yes.

And she regretted it for the next two weeks, when Ellen Purstone told everyone about it and the other cheerleaders started to look at her funny. And when Skip Whelan finally asked her out and she almost accepted but changed her mind when she found out Skip had told everyone he was going to get to third base with her before the end of the week. And when Todd tried to pick a fight with Skip and almost had his nose broken, which would have made the prom unbearable.

But somehow she made it through, and as she and Todd walked down onto the dancefloor, joining the throngs of teenagers exploring the possibilities a prom suggests; and as the DJ started playing REM’s “Perfect Circle”; and as Todd put his arms around her waist and started to slow-dance, Cindy felt that maybe, just maybe, things were going to be alright.

[buy stuff here]

David Pullar | 8:00 am | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

Shhh! I am sleeping.

I’m unwell, you understand: snivelling and bed-ridden. Limbs like mince and burning eyes. Pestilent coughing. Lost my voice.

Remedial songs, then, are required. And those without vocals, furthermore: lead me not into (karaoke) temptation whilst I recline in self-pity and bed sores.

This week’s prescription, I venture, is thus:

Jack Rose – Flirtin’ With The Undertaker
Pelt’s primordial, bewitching axe-doctor administers finger-picking, ear-prickling, skin-prickling marvel by way of a hammer-on sunny ranch canticle whose grim designate belies restorative delight.

Goran Brevogic – Tale II (Adagio Poco Febrile)
Sarajevo’s soundtrack aristocrat Bregovic here eschews his signature brew of funeral music, wedding music, gypsy japes and eastern folk for a stunning, unadorned string adagio whose cadences ease malady like a salve.

Peter Walker – Second Song
Celestial sitar and psychedelic flute scuttling from a great but oft-unrecalled raga trailblazer: Walker’s acute Indian-infused 60s guitar musings elevate spirits and eradicate ailments.

OOIOO – Grow Sound Tree
Boredoms’ drum-sorceress and Sonic Youth / Flaming Lips deity Yoshimi P-we – here at the wondrous helm of OOIOO – fries addled brains and influenza germs with a mesmeric, narcotic, primal psyche-lullaby.

[buy stuff here/here/here/here]

Nicola Meighan | 8:00 am | Comments (2)

December 14, 2005

There are a lot of bands out there that will never in a thousand years engender indifference—Creed, Tool, Acid Mothers Temple, Wolf Eyes. They present you with a stark choice—love me or start a blog about how much you hate me.
Into this extraordinarily mixed bag, I insert the recently (2004) disbanded Welsh pigfuck pranksters Mclusky.

Mid last year, I made a mix CD for a dear friend to mark her return to Melbourne from six months’ self-imposed exile in Brisbane. The “Chocolate Mix” as she calls it, consisted mainly of mellow, folky music from the likes of Destroyer and Sufjan Stevens. And right there in the middle was “To Hell With Good Intentions.” I don’t know what possessed me.

To this day, every time I promise Vida a mix CD, she calls me or emails me to plead “No Mclusky! Please!”

Clearly we are not dealing with common or garden dislike here. This is serious.

It honestly never occurred to me that Mclusky would be like this. Critics had raved about their 2001 album Do Dallas and over the two years following its release they had built up quite a following. I had yet to discover them when they played some demonic shows in Melbourne. I remember seeing photos in the street press of Andy Falkous with gaffer tape crosses over his nipples, howling into a microphone. My interest was stirred—I had to know what he was screaming.

The album is a short, fuzzed-out blast of punky noise. Fourteen years ago, it would have been called “grunge”—I don’t know what you call it now. The lyrics are profane (song titles like “Fuck This Band” and “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” give you a hint) and often nonsensical (“your mother is a ballpoint pen thief”).

In hindsight they were never going to be a mix CD staple the way Belle and Sebastian or Death Cab For Cutie can be. Even my most staunchly rockist friends were never going to embrace two-minute songs warning against fornicating in burning barns.
Maybe I was just testing the waters. It’s a commonly held belief that if someone is known to like a slightly extreme band, the probability of them liking an even more extreme band is greater than if they hadn’t expressed an opinion. Or P(A|B) > P(A) for the mathematically-minded. I might have subconsciously been paving the way for a mix of nothing but Japanese avant-garde noise terror—I don’t know.

So I present some tracks to you to sort you into the believers and the infidels. You’ll know which camp you fall into when you’re screaming “My love is bigger than your love…Sing it!”

[buy stuff here]

David Pullar | 8:00 am | Comments (4)

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