November 28, 2007

10 Random Music Related Moments I Should Remember Better than I Do.

There are few things I can say I am genuinely ashamed of but my memory, or lack there of is something that borders on embarrassing. If it is a Kodak moment you can be certain that the memory filter in my brain has somehow let the moment go – forever. I feel nauseated when people find out I saw some amazing show or spent time with a legendary musician because when they inevitably ask for the details I can only offer a mumbled “I’m sorry, I don’t really remember.”

Here are some things from my past that I know I have experienced but can barely recall.

1. I saw My Bloody Valentine in NYC on the Loveless tour. I think Babes in Toyland and The Screaming Trees opened? I remember MBV having the greasiest hair I have ever seen and that is about it.

2. The only thing I remember about having a meet and greet promotional dinner with Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs is someone at dinner kept harping on serial killers to the point where the conversation turned into totally inappropriate dinner conversation. Needless to say Mr. Butler excused himself from dinner in record time.

3. I saw New Order, PIL, and The Sugarcubes in the late 80’s and the only thing I can be certain of is it was the same week I got my driver’s license and it was at a NJ stadium.

4. I spent a full day being an unpaid extra in the Sonic Youth video for “Dirty Boots” and here is what I do remember:

I was picked the night before because I was at a secret Dinosaur Jr show at Maxwells In NJ and had a grunge band shirt on.

The director and her staff made the many of extras change clothes so they could sport grunge band shirts. (Yeah, those Das Damen shirts really lasted the test of time.)

At the end of the day I ended up with a hand drawn band tee-shirt prop from the shoot but have no clue how I got it.

I took the Path train back home to Hoboken with Steve Shelley post shoot.

There is a finished video where I appear for a split second.

5. The only thing that sticks with me in regards to yet another meet and greet promotional dinner was being in awe of the lovely and demure singer of the Sundays and that she could in fact out drink the entire table of us and talked like a truck driver after numerous pints.

6. I have seen the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Hole, Jesus Lizard, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Soul Asylum, Built To Spill, Elliott Smith, Modest Mouse, Drive like Jehu, Failure, The Flaming Lips, Fugazi, Jawbreaker, Heavenly, The Lemonheads, All, Pavement…insert late 80s or 90s alterna rock band here…in places that held less than 300 hundred people and all I can tell you for the most part is yup, I was there.

7. There was a stadium bill with The Cure, Jesus and Mary Chain, and Shellyan Orphan and sadly I can’t even recall in what city this took place. I just know I was there.

8. I can’t remember if it was The Smiths or Morrissey I saw at Madison Square Garden in the mid to late 80’s. Pathetic, I know.

9. I have spent a half week on tour with the White Stripes (my ex husband was in a band that opened for them years ago) and my singular memory of that week is giving Jack and Meg a box of Powerpuff Girl cereal that popped in your mouth like pop rocks.

10. I spent three days on tour with Voivod, Faith No More, and Soundgarden (one of the few perks of being a record store employee in the late 80’s - early 90s was getting hooked up with cool stuff like meet and greets and free tickets/tour passes) and all I remember is thinking WOAH! Mike Patton is pint sized and it sure snows a lot in Boston.

There are probably hundreds if not thousands of segments of memories like these so I will try to post about them when they pop into my head, mostly because God knows if I will remember any of this in 10 years at all. And no, I don’t do drugs, I am not a massive drinker, and I have never suffered from a massive head injury. I can’t even remember if I have always been like this. Sigh.

November 26, 2007

Confessions of a Once Upon a Time Hater

There will be no unkind words from me in regards to growing up in New Jersey during the 70’s and 80’s but I am willing to admit there were certain cultural aspects that I was never exposed to. I had no idea the rest of the world pumped their own gas at service stations. There was not a Taco Bell in a 30 mile radius from the home I grew up in so I didn’t taste my first 7 layer burrito until I was in my early 20’s. I can’t blame this fully on NJ as my parents were not card carrying country music fans but I have zero recollection of hearing even one full country music song in all of my youth.

My family lived about a half hour outside of NYC so were more city folk than country folk. In fact it wasn’t until I was in my late teens working in a record store that I was even exposed to a semi consistent flow of Country music. I was never inclined to play any of them out curiosity and to this day I can’t really explain why. With my head bowed - my best guess is while no adult figure in my life has ever flat out stated people from the South were stupid or lesser ... it was loosely implied. I cringe typing something so harsh and clearly wrong but this is how I was indirectly raised. County music = product of the South = kryptonite to those living North of the Mason-Dixon line.

I have no idea if there was a country music radio station growing up but if there was – it was never played in our house, my parent’s car, or in any other environment I can think of while living in Northern NJ. As a child I couldn’t hum you a bar of any Country song nor did I have any true conception as to what one might sound like.

I clearly recall a grade school carpool ride with a neighbor boy who told me as I sung to some top 40 tune on the radio that I sounded like a Country singer. It was not meant to be a compliment and he was making a face like he was changing a baby’s dirty diaper. Without anyone telling me as much there was a childhood code that Country music sucked and to sound like a Country artist was a punch from the backseat. It was an insult so grand that my cheeks flushed with horror. I spat back from the front seat that I did not sound like that (even though I really have no idea what “that” was) and I refrained from speaking to him for a week. I dared not sing in front of him ever again.

There are two heroes to acknowledge in my eventual discovery and later passion for Country music and the first of them was my boss at Flipside Records in Pompton Lakes, NJ. Nearly every day he took the time to introduce me to a classic LP from every possible genre. My country lesson was scattered over three or four years of working for him but I best recall him pulling out a Porter Wagoner record and placing the needle on the groove of a song called “Rubber Room”. I had never heard a more far out, fucked up, bleak but amazing song in my life. I was shocked to discover that this was an example of what this mysterious genre of music could sound like. While I was still grossly ignorant of Country music this one record blasted my distaste and distrust for Country. I was on my way to falling in love with Western Swing, Honky Tonk and traditional Nashville Sound music.

My second tutor came in the form of a roommate I had in Seattle who was from Montana by way of Wyoming and lovingly called “Fuckin’ Bill”. He worked for a wine distributor and on the nights where neither one of us had band practice or any place to go, he would pull out a few bottles of good wine from his not so secret stash under his bed and play me his favorite country LPs. Hours were spent listening to greats like Hank Snow, Ferlin Husky, Hank Thompson, and Loretta Lynn to name a few. Too much wine and too many years between then and now help to blur all the glorious details but I was left with one important impression. Country Music wasn’t so bad after all.

A decade later I now find myself living in the South no less in the heart of the Confederate Capital for six years and counting. Every shameful association and bias I had against the South has long since evaporated but I still can’t say I have many friends who are Country music fans no less are avid collectors of it. (I should place a note here that I still not familiar with new County music and my addiction to the genre is strictly for the stuff from the 30s to the late 60s.) Loving these records doesn’t quite feel like a dirty secret but I do feel relatively alone in my quest to explore the genre. I don’t have friends clamoring to hear my most recent scores from digging in used LP bins and I don’t have any resources recommending records I don’t have but are a must to own. Sure the internet is a fine source of information but I prefer a more organic process of seeking out “the classics”; undeniably the feeling of the hunt before the kill when searching for old records is what I truly love and computers sterilize the whole hunting experience for me.

In a weird way my lack of education and inconsistent exposure to old Country music has kept my hungry to continue learning about it on my own in an innocent manner. I have no idea what I am supposed to like or own, I just happily explore it as I stumble across records in record stores and thrift stores. I blindly pick out records with cover art that appeal to me or carry song titles that sound intriguing. “Satan’s Place”? I need to hear that. Johnny Bond holding a gun to his head next to a table of booze under a headline that screams “Three Sheets in The Wind”? I can’t pass that up.

Not feeling jaded and repulsively over educated and socially tapped into a style of music is an enormous source of pleasure for me.

I recently made an epic record buying journey to a secret spot in Southern Virginia and purchased a good 15 or 20 used Country records. I finally have my very own copy of Porter Wagoner singing Rubber Room and can’t wait for my turntable to introduce me to a few more soon to be favorites.

I love me some Country and if there was a closet for me to crawl out of, this would be it. I am out and wearing spurs to prove it.

Del Reeves is among my newest discoveries and here is a clip of him performing “Girl on the Billboard”.

November 14, 2007

I heart Katamari Damacy


There is some very watchable material on VBS.TV. I haven't really embraced TV online up until this point but with programming this good - Vice TV is my new favorite "channel".

Ian Svenonius may rub some the wrong way (Do people under 30 even know who he is at this point?) but his Kevin Shields 4 part interview is really informative and interesting. I am trying to make my way to the Mark E Smith interview now but its a bit of a difficult listen because Mark sounds like he has a mouth filled with boozey marbles. Luckily Ian is able to follow all of conversation and the interview fumbles along covering such tantalizing topics as astrology and golf.

I am moving onto the Chan Marshall and Genesis P. Orridge interviews now and looking forward to them.

You can check out all the Soft Focus episodes here.

November 13, 2007

Vatican Commandos

This classic old hardcore comp “Connecticut Fun” finally made it into digital land or at least it can be found on iTunes. The fun fact about this record is that it features Richard Hall AKA Moby -yes the electronic music star - playing guitar in Vatican Commados.

Upon further poking around it appears there is a MySpace page for his old band too. Sweet!

November 12, 2007

An Ode to my Mom

Three years ago today I found myself sitting in a parking lot of a busy and large parking lot of an even larger shopping mall somewhere in Florida. I was listening to David Sedaris short stories in my rental car. I had no idea what else to do with myself. I was in a state of shock for several reasons. My Mother has passed away in the middle of the night after a long and difficult battle with MS. After nearly two decades of learning to live along side this brutal disease it had suddenly slipped away silently in the night taking my Mother with it.

The time and place of her passing becomes more complicated because it took place at my half sister’s home. My sister was her care giver at the time and we had opted to not place my Mom in a hospital for her final days. This in itself isn’t really so significant but the day, November 12th was. My half sister’s daughter was turning 12 that day and she would be mortified to know her Grandmother had died on HER birthday in HER house. To make matters worse, there was a slumber party planned for that very same day and my sleeping quarters which in fact was a couch in the living room would be squirming with pre-teens by dark. My sister did not cancel the party and I could not bare to think about looming around the house with a gaggle of girls taking turns brushing each other’s hair and playing truth of dare.

I don’t know where I thought I would be or my Mother would be when she was going do die but trapped in a rental car looking for a quick escape from my sister’s house in Florida was not at the top of my list. My mind wasn’t functioning properly, I could hardly operate a car. I had accidentally left my wallet at home. I had tried to sit on the beach to be alone with my thoughts but a storm was approaching and the winds were so forceful that every grain of sand that struck my bare skin felt like a million finger flicks of an older sibling or school bully. I abandoned that beach but had no back up plan, especially one that did not call for the use of a debit card or cash. I had no friends in the area. I didn’t know my around at all and as far as I could tell the local highway featured nothing but all the same stupid chain stores and restaurants the rest of the highways in America also feature.

I was lost and somehow I found my way to a parking lot of large shopping center where I put my car in park and cried. I couldn’t drive anymore. I didn’t have the energy to find someplace “cool” to grieve. I don’t even know where a “cool” place to grieve would be no less in nowheresville Florida. I couldn’t return back to my sister’s house because the slumber party was still in full swing. The only spare bed to be had was the bed my mother had died on so needless to say, my rental car became my one and only place to go and a parking spot at the back of the lot lined with palm trees was where I landed.

Two days earlier I received a call from sister telling me to come to Florida immediately. She further explained that my Mom had gone into a coma and that it looked like this was IT. In preparing for IT I packed a few essentials, jumped on a plane to Florida and rented a car from the airport. In my rush to pack I had forgotten to bring music, something I normally never forget. The 1 CD in my portable player happened to be David Sedaris reading some of this work. I suppose I could have listened to the radio of my rental car but trust me when I tell you that radio in this part of Florida was as depressing and average as the strip of chain stores I was surrounded by. I in turn moved the CD from my walkman to the car stereo.

My cell phone battery had died and at this point I didn’t have the energy to say out loud to anyone “she’s gone” anymore. It would be hours before I could return home to a quiet house of sleeping party goers so I sat quietly alone and listened to David read. Sometimes I cried because I had just lost my mother and was trapped in a rental car in a Florida mall parking lot. Sometimes I laughed because Mr. Sedaris is funny even in the face of death and I was trapped in a rental car in a Florida mall parking lot.

Fuck The Hits!

Hipster music sites are posting about Amiina working with Lee Hazelwood yet nobody seems to talking about not one, not two, but three stellar Lee Hazlewood reissues out now!!!

I nearly fell off my seat when an Other Music new release email rolled in and it included three brand new Lee reissues. I am huge fan and have been waiting for decent CD reissues for what feels like forever. Sure I was excited when Smells Like Records released a series of them but I won’t lie – they aren’t my favorite Lee records – not even close.

The San Francisco label Water has delivered three reissues and two of them are some of the best LH there is to own. The sound quality of the tracks are spectacular and each CD comes with 6 pages of liner notes. The booklets leave a little to be desired - it isn't Sundazed Records quality- but they aren't terrible either. Clearly some effort was made to make them at least intetesting, and they have done just that.

*Lee Hazlewoodism – Its Cause and Cure – Water 202 (Top 10 favorite record of all time)

*The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood – Water 201 (Worth it for “Sand” and his version of “These Boots” alone but my favorite is "I Move Around")

*Something Special – Water 2003 ( The audio opposite of a good old fashioned love in)

These reissues have me thinking back to my introduction to Lee Hazlewood. I was 16 in 1987 and working at a record store in NJ as the indie music buyer. My sales rep at Sub Pop was a fella by the name of Mark Pickerel and we did monthly orders together...that is when he wasn’t on tour as the drummer to the Screaming Trees. ( a not very well known band at the time. Inevitably we would get side tracked and he would school me as to what records I needed to own. He had recently turned me onto Beat Happening and from there he insisted that I NEEDED to know who Lee Hazlewood was. A week later an LP box showed up with a copy of Hazlewoodism along with a mixed tape of what Mark considered LH’s greatest hits.

I was an instant fan.

Baritone dark comedy with some of the best production known to man... it was unlike anything I had ever heard before. Calvin Johnson and others offer a circus mirror version of his style but there will only ever be one Lee.

And another thing Phil Spector owes this man big (Phil turned to Lee in 1960 to teach him everything he knew about recording) but I digress.

We all have friends who have turned us onto to music that has changed our lives forever and I can thank Mark for being one of those people early on in my life. In turn my associtation with the Screaming Trees is a unique one.

At the time Sub Pop was working on a tribute to Lee that was rumored to have featured bands like My Bloody Valentine but for some reason it never happened. I need to track down Mark to find out why it never happened. (Just emailed hinm to ask actually so more on that to come)Astralwerks did a pretty fine job of it more than a decade later but I can’t help but still wonder what a Sub Pop tribute in the late 90’s would have sounded like.

Fast forward to 1999. It was a massive honor to be invited to the record release party at Maxwells in Hoboken, NJ for the Smells Like reissues no less share the room with Lee, his wife, Steve Shelley, and every other rabid Lee fan known to man. I shyly waited in line for Lee to autograph my Morning Dew 7”. With one hand holding a rocks glass of Chivas, he signed my paper sleeve with the other hand and croaked out a crack about me being too young to own his original records with something that looked like a bewildered slightly sarcastic smile. If you have ever seen a picture of Lee before, you know the exact expression I am talking about.

There was an incredible week of Lee related tributes to follow in NYC including a film festival with Q and A, and a musical tribute to him put together by the Loser’s Lounge where the man himself sat at a big booth and heckled in a loving kind of way, himself and the music being celebrated. His deep voice cut through even the loudest of moments of the show (exclamations of both joy and horror) and the Loser’s Lounge site has a great clip of his comedic speech at the end of the night. If you listen the sound clip on the LL page my title header will make sense.

My fingers are crossed that some day there will be a Lee Hazlewood boxset because there are so many dang recordings of his out there to collect but these three fantastic Water reissues will do for now.

60 Watt Kid - S/T - Absolutely Kosher Records

Sounds like a goofy emo band from 1994 I know but alas they are a newish band from the left coast (SF) that makes music similar to Animal Collective if they were on the Arts & Crafts label. Sorry to do the band some serious injustice by summing then up in a half sentence but I am anti long review these day.

You can check them out here and I strongly recommend you check out the track Ocsisnarf NaS.

These days I am lucky to find more than 2 tracks off of any record I like so I am happy to report that 60 Watt Kid has delivered a new a new record I seriously love about half of. I lose patience with the less straight ahead pop songs (especially the ones bathed in keyboard frenzies, guitar noodling, and vocal slap backs even Elvis would call too much) but there are some psych-pop moments to die for here.

Come to think about it, my relation with most Animal Collective (and their side projects) releases is exactly the same. I love about 1/3 of each record and then the rest of the songs I can do without. I don't think that exactly earns my number one fan status but I will call myself a fan regardless.

The Looney Tunes E-Bay Auction Starts Today

Support a great cause as well as one of the greatest indie record stores on the East Coast!!!!

"On August 30th, West Babylon New York’s #1 source for great music for over 35 years, Looney Tunes, was consumed-whole by fire. Thankfully, no one was injured but the store itself was all but lost. Down, but not out, like the legendary Phoenix we will soon rise from our ashes.
Here is how you can lend a hand: Bid on one of the many pieces of rare memorabilia that have been graciously donated to the benefit auction by bands and record labels. All of the pieces in the auction were received directly from the artists and labels themselves; we guarantee the authenticity of each item. 100% of the proceeds from our auctions will go directly to the rebuilding and reopening of Looney Tunes. Thank you for your support!
Score some one-of-a-kind, grade-A, Rock'n'Roll Memorabilia for yourself and help a great, family-owned, neighborhood institution get back on its feet... just in time for Christmas!"

November 9, 2007

Sleeping States - "There are Open Spaces" - Misra Records

A review in 50 words or less:

Stripped down starry night lullabies for intellectual melancholies who have trouble sleeping. Gentle noise is the new loud. I call it revolution shhhh style.

I know I am getting old when....

I get cranky because the local metal venue refuses to create an online calendar that is easy to read. They cut and paste each headlining and opening band's logo so if you aren't an expert in reading crpytic indecipherable lettering, you have to take the extra step and click on the logo in question which in turn will bring you to the band page. In some ways it is pretty genius because true fans of metal already know all their favorite band's logos and they will be able to breeze through the calendar while this extra step weeds out the ancient assholes like me who love the metal from a distance.

I am forced to offer both a tip of he hat and a wag of the finger here.

PS: And how uncool is it that I found out about Enslaved touring (which led to me to learn they are playing tonight at Jaxx) thanks to the New York Times? I am old.

PPS: Speaking of metal...I really enjoyed this series of interviews with Gaahl from Gorgoroth on VBS.TV.

November 8, 2007

Desert Island Picks (assuming I can bring some wax too)

I had to create this list for something at work so I decided to post it here too. There is no doubt I would turn in a different list depending on the day, my mood, month, year, new music discoveries and so on but here is mine as of the right and here and now.

If you pay close attention you will also discover how I came up with my not so clever blog name.

1) Lee Hazlewood(ism) – Its Cause and Cure - MGM
2) Nancy Sinatra – Lightning’s Girl 45 on Reprise
3) Della Reese – It Was a Very Good Year” 45 on ABC
4) Sugarcubes – Birthday / Christmas 12” - One Little Indian
5) Dudley Moore / Peter Cook 7” from the movie “Bedazzled” – “Love me” bw/ “Bedazzled” - Parrot
6) Rites of Spring – S/T – Dischord
7) Bjork – Vespertine - Elektra
8) Swirlies – They Spent Their Wild Youthful Days in the Glittering World-Taang
9) Pitchfork – Eucalyptus + Saturn - Nemesis
10) Lync – These Are Not Fall Colors - K
11) Danger Mouse – Grey Album
12) The Treepeople side of the split 7” w/ House Of Large Sizes “Neil’s Down” – Toxic Shock

November 6, 2007

The South Will Resurrect Again!

Today is election day and in preparation of such an occasion my better half and I looked online to double check who all was running in our distract and what they stood for. We discovered that there is an Independent candidate running for House of Delegates whose political heroes include Jesus and Robert E. Lee.

See the title header for my punch line.

I don’t have many regrets about moving from NYC to Richmond, VA. but when I stumble across something like this I can’t help but question calling the South my home. I don’t want religion and or the Confederacy anywhere near my politics. Its 2007 damn it and the “Under God” mantra was introduced in 1954 during the McCarthyism era –not by our founding fathers at all.

And why can’t the South move past the “war of Northern aggression”? As a born and raised New Jersey-an I have a hard time grasping the South’s obsession with the Civil War. Us Northern types managed to move on and I cringe to see it it rear its ugly head yet again within the modern day political circuit.

I guess you can tell who I didn’t vote for today. I am taking out my blue trapped in a red state frustration by listening to a little EyeHateGod’s “In the Name of Suffering” and Born Against’s “9 Patriotic Hymns for Children will be up next. I am stoked to have found a decent video clip of Born Against so here it is, enjoy!