Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You’ve Got Me Dead To Certain Rights

Got it too late to review it, and I wouldn’t feel qualified to in any case – their first record came out in the 1980s and I haven’t heard it – but Mission of Burma’s new, second post-reformation record, The Obliterati, is simply too solid and un-fuckwithable to just put it on my short list of 2006’s best CDs without passing comment. It’s just a perfect rock record, all around, adventurous and cluttered and attitude in-jokes galore (see “eating dinner on Matador’s dime” lyric from “Spider’s Web,” which I suspect is about confronting/facing down the machinery of the music industry) and not a moment wasted (unlike 2003’s onOFFon, which was just pretty darn good) – (relatively) new member Bob Weston’s tape manipulation abetting the two-chorded throttle and killer drums of the others, punk urgency and awesome songwriting chops wrestling and driving every song home to the point where I’m listening to this too damned much when there’s mounds of CDs I actually am being paid to review soon all over my desk right now. Sending The Obliterati to Bill this weekend is a necessity for sure.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Silence Kits"

Q: Have you procured new management?
A: No. I am, however, involved in ongoing discussions with several management consortiums to determine whether they can accommodate my specific needs and if any benefit can be gained by one of them taking me on as a client, whether their profile will be raised, and if so, will said profile be lifted very high, or moderately high. These are important considerations.
Q: What are your needs?
A: Well, I would like to be known – or infamous, say – as the author of an infinite, or maybe near-infinite, as I don’t know that you or I or any one person is capable of anything infinite, in any event, for a just-next-to-infinite number of pamphlets. They’d be more like tracts, actually, but thicker. Like little black books, address books, with fewer pages. Fit nice in back pockets, nice and snug and at hand. Crimson leather covers, gold leaf. Tasteful.
Q: To what purpose?
A: The pamphlets – let’s call them tract-pamphlets, for now – could provide a distraction, or a laugh, or counsel, a diversion from the mundane. Not too much, mind, just a little jolt, like an intellectual Snickers bar one never finishes eating.
Q: What would the content be?
A: I’m not sure yet. Religion, architectural theory, observations about the culture at large, some gardening tips, advice my uncle, a taciturn World War II veteran, imparted to me during our infrequent quail-hunting trips, recipes, art history minutae. I – I shouldn’t be telling you this, we could both be disappeared, but I have a CIA friend who passed along some translations of wiretap transcriptions of phone calls between suspected domestic terrorists, innocent stuff really unless it’s in some complicated code, meaningless, but it’s interesting. There’s one lengthy thing where a little girl is describing to her father – who must have been away on business or something – her horrific, Kafka-esque recurring nightmares, like one where she’s stranded naked in the tundra with only an American flag and it comes to life and starts devouring her. But getting back to my project, you know, I’d throw in a little bit of everything. As you may be aware, I am a blistering Quonset hut of knowledge and wisdom, and I want to share my bounty with the general public. I want to be curled up, waiting, kinetic, and psychoticly brilliant, in warm dungaree pockets worldwide.
Q: What would you call these tract-pamphlets?
A: “Wagner’s Epistles.” Or is that too narcissistic?
Q: No, no, not at all.

Q: Is the contraction dead?
A: Excuse me?
Q: Is the contraction –
A: I heard you, I heard you. I just couldn’t quite believe that you asked me that. What kind of question is that, to ask me? I mean, who do you think I am, Jacques Derrida?
Q: I thought it was a clever question, something unusual, a means of opening a new avenue for this interview, which to this point has been conventional, dull, a retread of your other recent interviews. Don’t you ever get tired of being asked about your films?
A: My films are like my children. Are you a parent?
Q: Yes.
A: Do you ever tire of talking about your children?
Q: No.
A: Well, there you are. There you are.
Q: Derrida is dead, you know.
A: Then you’ll be waiting a long time for your answer, about contractions, about the expiration of grammatical concepts. Why don’t you ask me about the influence my new, fully-stocked wine cellar is having on my present work?
Q: What are your vintages?

"Let's Knoll"

These words trickle, anymore
I’ve husks, not kernels
Pop pop pop pop pop

Corks, weasels, bottled bubbly
Silences molten down
The hatch and cheers,

Everyone: what’s imparted
Here is ballast, uncertain, coded,
Backmasked language

As confined, unassignable
Noise, shakey re-entry or
Nonsense made manifesto

Friday, May 19, 2006

100 Fine Recordings

1. The Amps, Pacer
2. Animal Collective, Sung Tongs
3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, The Doldrums
4. Autechre, Confield
5. B-52s, Time Capsule
6. Bad Religion, All Ages
7. Beat Happening, Jamboree
8. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. Beck, One Foot In The Grave
10. Blast Off Country Style, C’mon and...

11. Blur, Think Tank
12. Boards of Canada, Music Has The Right To Children
13. The Breeders, Last Splash
14. Buena Vista Social Club, s/t
15. Can, Tago Mago
16. The Chemical Brothers, Come With Us
17. The Chemical Brothers, Brothers Gonna Work It Out
18. The Circulatory System, s/t
19. Billy Corgan, TheFutureEmbrace
20. Cub, Betti-Cola

21. Kimya Dawson, I’m Sorry If Sometimes I’m Mean
22. The Dead C, The White House
23. Dead Machines, Futures
24. Aaron Dilloway, Bad Dreams
25. Double Leopards, A Hole is True
26. Eminem, The Slim Shady LP
27. Excepter, Throne
28. Faust, The First Two Albums by Faust
29. The Fiery Furnaces, Gallowsbird’s Bark
30. Foo Fighters, s/t

31. Free Kitten, Nice Ass
32. Fugazi, Red Medicine
33. Fur, Fur
34. Garbage, s/t
35. Garbage, Version 2.0
36. Gate, Golden
37. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
38. The Grateful Dead, Live/Dead
39. Green Day, Insomniac
40. Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes

41. Polly Jean Harvey, Rid of Me
42. The Halo Benders, God Don’t Make No Junk
43. Helium, Pirate Prude
44. Hole, Live Through This
45. Jawbreaker, Dear You
46. The Jesus Lizard, Liar
47. Kraftwerk, Minimum-Maximum
48. Lagwagon, Double Plaidinum
49. The Lemonheads, It’s A Shame About Ray
50. Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow

51. Courtney Love, America’s Sweetheart
52. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
53. Stephen Malkmus, s/t
54. M.I.A., Arular
55. The Microphones, Mount Eerie
56. The Misfits, s/t
57. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
58. Nautical Almanac, Cover the Earth
59. Neutral Milk Hotel, On Avery Island
60. New Order, Substance

61. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
62. Nirvana, Roma (live, night before overdose)
63. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, N**** Please
64. Pavement, Watery, Domestic
65. Pavement, Wowee Zowee
66. Pearl Jam, Vs.
67. Liz Phair, Whitechocolatespaceegg demos
68. R.E.M., Up
69. Radiohead, Amnesiac
70. The Ramones, s/t

71. Lee Ranaldo, Amarillo Ramp
72. Shellac, At Action Park
73. Sightings, Absolutes
74. The Silver Jews, Bright Flight
75. The Silver Jews, The Natural Bridge
76. The Smashing Pumpkins, Adore
77. The Smashing Pumpkins, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
78. Graham Smith, Final Battle
79. Snoop Doggy Dogg, Doggystyle
80. Sonic Youth, Dirty

81. Sonic Youth, Murray Street
82. Sonic Youth, Silver Sessions...
83. Sonic Youth, Sister
84. Sonic Youth, Washing Machine
85. The Strokes, Is This It?
86. Soundgarden, Superunknown
87. Stereolab, Cobra and Phases...
88. The Swell Maps, Jane From Occupied Europe
89. Aoki Takamasa and Tujiko Noriko, 28
90. Tilt, ‘Til It Kills

91. Mary Timony, Mountains
92. Tortoise, TNT
93. Tortoise, Standards
94. The Unicorns, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?
95. Various Artists, Pulp Fiction soundtrack
96. Weezer, Pinkerton
97. Kanye West, The College Dropout
98. Wolf Eyes, Slicer
99. The Yellow Swans, Psychic Secession
100. Neil Young, Greatest Hits

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"We Love The Jams/And Jams/Run Free"

(Sonic Youth referenced here for no other reason that I'm lovin' me some Rather Ripped this month -- light and bright and easy and fun.)

Cryptic Warning did not, sadly, make it through their second go in the Emergenza festival the weekend before last, but they gave it an awesome try. The band that followed was a horrible generic emo band where the guitarists all did this thing where they jumped in unison while playing. And I realized with a blinding clarity: emo is the new nu-metal, the inescapable mall rat soundtrack, to the extent that nu-metal is all of a sudden more palpable than emo, a genre so pervasive that I can’t even name more than three whiny bands that fall into the category but can’t get away from no matter how hard I try to escape.

You will piss yourself reading this – I almost did.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Scattering Seeds

1) A stumble down memory lane. This is remembered graffiti from the walls of my college newpaper's office, which were cruelly repainted a few years back. Woefully incomplete, but then again, we're all getting older.

2) I still need a job. Last night I applied for six different positions online (including "business development coordinator" at one job and some sort of environmental lobbyist thing somewhere else_, including one at the SAIC branch in Harrisburg -- to be a subcontract administrator, something I don't think I have the ability to do, but Alecia suggested that it couldn't hurt to give it a go. Can everyone reading this keep their fingers crossed for me until, say, October? I'll pay for the Icy-Hot.

3) Last weekend we went record shopping, and I picked up this record by a new band named Bleeding Kansas based on a blurb in Alternative Press (the first time that magazine's ever caused me to buy anything, probably). Had enough money to get that or AFX's Hanging Bulb (or whatever the title was) and after a few minutes of consideration the fresh won out over an update of a former favorite -- whenever I start to get excited that Richard D. James has something new out I have to check myself and remember that I don't listen to the dude's music anymore, ever, and that it hasn't felt even remotely thrilling to me since college! (well, I heard Drukqs in a store when it came out and twasn't horrible but I never bothered to investigate further) So Bleeding Kansas it was; google 'em and you'll get this, which is the movement they named themselves after. Noble. They sound like Nirvana, if Nirvana had a second guitarist and dug on Jesus Lizard as much as they dug on R.E.M. and Black Flag and the Beatles and the Melvins. Heavy punk-metal with hooks under the BALCO'd guitars and bass and the slammin' drums, the singer's flaying his throat muscles and you can't understand him (the record's titled Dead Under Decor and it's apparently -- I haven't had a chance to really study the liners -- about how bands who are obsessed with fashion are empty suits, wannabe emporers with no clothes) at all. I've never understood why bands like this even bother with lyrics when it's next to impossible to discern what they are. Why not just flat-out scream? Too heavy, I think for my wife, but not heavy enough for my brother-in-law.

4) Asobi Seksu and Serena Maneesh = My Bloody Valentine, 2006. Kevin Shields, take yr time.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cleveland, Belated

There was something oh-so appropriate about cruising the Cleveland, Ohio streets en route to Kevin Hoffman’s wedding reception in a rented silver PT Cruiser with Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale as our soundtrack – cue “L.L. Cool J drives a leased accord” reference from Might Magazine, circa. the late 1990s, no-one will get what I’m saying here but who cares – Bill driving with his girlfriend Jenny riding shotgun, Alecia and I in the back seat, Ol Dirty Bastard barking about the "Brooklyn Zoo" from somewhere beyond the grave. That scene – the whole weekend, for that matter – felt like a perfect intersection of past, present, and future. It takes a life-changing event like this for us old Washington College/Elm/Collegian/drinking buddies to be able to meet up or even really to be able to talk at length, and it ain’t cheap, and time off is hard to come by in the face of life’s relentlessness and harsh realities; it’s difficult to listen to and enjoy hip-hop when your spouse, who doesn’t share your love for some of what the genre has to offer, is sitting next to you, and when asked you can’t explain what’s uplifting or positive about a guy who is sort of glamorizing drug-dealing; it’s odd and false-feeling to hold forth on your present job and life when in a few months everything you’ve said will have been turned over by relocation and a baby. And these aren’t necessarily bad experiences, merely ones that underscore the fact that 1999 is many moons behind us and that the nature of friendship and of self is static, unfixed. I vividly remember Kevin’s sister, Kelly, as a silent, scowling, high-school age punker trailing her brother through the crowd at a Washington, D.C. Sonic Youth show we all attended in the fall of 1995; this past weekend she was a young woman in a nice dress who smiled and served as our usher at the Old Stone Church. Until we were getting ready to leave the reception, I’d never noticed hair on Kevin’s face – a concession to aging his genetics appeared to allow him to avoid – on Saturday, there were finally whiskers. And there he was – matched (finally!) with an uncompromising woman his equal, managing editor at Clevescene at age 29, elated that the deed was done, that all of the planning and fretting was over and done, glowing, sucking on a beer bottle and leaning against the open bar. I’d always known he was capable of taking over the world, and he’s now on the verge of doing just that. And I didn't know that Bill would ever get married back when we were all buying cases of Olde English 40-ouncers, and then at the reception he was babbling about whether or not New Year's Eve's a good time for a wedding.


Earlier in the day, Alecia and I had spent a couple hours at the fabled Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- an amazing place that one really needs an entire day to really appreciate -- and alongside the B-52s' and Duran Duran's and the Rolling Stones' old stage costumes, John Lennon's schoolboy doodlings and postcards and passports, Michael Jackson's sequined white glove encased in glass, and Jon Bon Jovi's motorcycle, among hundreds of other rock artifacts, was a display on grunge, which finally brought home how dead and buried the early 1990s are: Alice In Chains lyrics on notebook paper, a copy of the first issue of Subterranian Pop (which would blossom into the Sub Pop label), old out-of-print vinyl singles, all up on the walls, it's over and done and trivia for a new generation.

Later, as we spent a couple hours ripping on the cheese-horror of Anaconda (Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight working the worst hispanic accent ever) in our beautiful-but-expensive hotel room with Jenny and Bill, I fought to keep up with the conversation and not think about the liklihood that it'd be years until we'd all be able to do something like this again.

All in all, a great weekend that flew by much too quickly. No time to use the weirdly shaped pool at the hotel, but that's no big deal; Cavs were in the playoffs so every other person was in a basketball jersey which was kind of creepy. Thanks to Bill for the burn of the new Tool record I haven't had time to listen to more than once, and for giving us an early ride back to the hotel when we needed to leave the reception.

Alecia can feel Malia kicking a lot more these days; my mom joked that we're got another soccer player on our hands. The pregnancy takes a lot out of Alecia -- it's increasingly difficult for her to bend over, to turn in bed, or to be active for long periods of time -- but she's in good spirits nonetheless. She's gonna be a great mom, and when she talks about Malia at home or while we're rummaging though baby sections in department stores (eventually all baby clothes look alike, don't they, and those racks upon racks of onesies and tiny shorts and shirts and jackets and such blend together into one overpriced forever of fabric that will only be worn once or twice, and then thinking about that you think about how people always say "they grow so fast!" and then it's like Malia's already been in the womb for five and a half months or so and before we know it she'll be out here with us) a glow comes over her and she's somehow a different person than she was before.

Heh heh.

That new Fiery Furnaces record? Don't bother. Really.