Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Now that American Idol is once again in full swing - and nearly outta the audition weeds - it seems as good a time as any to post a link to my favorite "this is an original song I wrote myself" audition ever.

Note: Starting next week, I'll be doing a weekly Idol round-up for the Houston Press blog. I'll post links here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Given the January 20th coincidence (and dual/dueling significance of that date), I guess something like this was inevitable. Almost made me giggle, so that's something.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


From today's Orlando Weekly:


Nestled in the drab planned community of Columbia, Md., rests the namesake of Animal Collective’s ninth album, an outdoor concert venue with a 16,500-person capacity. Since opening in 1967, the Merriweather Post Pavilion has played host to a multitude of storied rock and pop legends: the Grateful Dead, Depeche Mode, Genesis, the Eagles, Madonna. By naming their latest opus after one of the grandest stage settings in their native state, Animal Collective effectively dared to pull a Babe Ruth: They pointed their bats up toward the stadium lights, telegraphing a freak-folked-up home run. And with all due respect to the many and sundry previous stops on Animal Collective’s career itinerary – the unsettling noise-neon of Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished and Danse Manatee, Campfire Songs’ intimate acoustic spirals, the melted-tape twee of Sung Tongs and so on – they’ve never been as ready for prime time as Pavilion finds them. Noah "Panda Bear" Lennox, David "Avey Tare" Portner and Brian "Geologist" Weitz (Josh Dibb, who goes by the name Deakin, sat this one out) opted to play up the poppier and more electronic elements of their sound and, with the assistance of Gnarls Barkley producer Ben Allen, tricked out these bundles of shrieking, childish joy with trunk-rattling low end.

This gambit pays off in a number of ways. While adhering to a Lord of the Flies/Jungle Book aesthetic – long-held, wide-eyed harmonies ala the Beach Boys, scampering rhythms free of leashes, a sense of boyish innocence maintained a decade or two too long – they’re displaying definite signs of maturity. Pavilion’s twin central themes – the desire to provide for one’s family and the desire to slip free of the body’s shackles – dovetail perfectly with the group’s newly accessible widescreen sound.

"My Girls" opens with a flickering synth grid that continues to flash throughout, ba-doink-a-doink bass emerging early on to help nail home the cascading melody line and Lion King-–esque polyphonic plaints ("I just want/Four walls and adobe slats/For my girls"). The reverb-saturated, majestic "Also Frightened" waltz tramps through some enchanted forest where unseen creatures rustle the foliage, exuding parental dread. "Daily Routine," the point where Pavilion’s early momentum slackens into an awestruck daze, slush-sleds through flaming thrushes of broken–Lite Brite sonics and vacuum-tubed vocal fuckery, while the gurgling "Bluish" folds Aphex Twin–isms and velvety, mid-era Smashing Pumpkins into a softly glowing alien ballad.

Animal Collective’s 2007 full-length, Strawberry Jam, was infamously all over the place – mixing and matching trad, sardonic indie pop ("Peacebone") with classic Collective songs and less expansive takes on the tribal electro-pop they’ve perfected here.

A pair of standout Pavilion tracks make good on the poetic-snark promise of "Peacebone." Bobbing, weaving "Taste" – a Candy Cane Lane–sweet treat based around ejaculating synthesizer evaporations that suggest a perpetual Jolly Rancher–flavored spray of sparks – gets existential ("Am I really all the things that are outside of me?") and gets away with douchebag hipster pick-up lines ("Do you appreciate the subtleties of taste, girl?"). Granules pour, scatter, and like a bucking bronco rarin’ to go, "Summertime Clothes" pauses, then gallops forth: tug-of-war sandpaper effects giving way to choreographed, epileptic radiator-coil synths that upchuck excited chatter, street noise and lemons-into-lemonade like "Sweet summer night and I’m stuck to my sheets/Forehead is leaking, my AC squeaks/And a voice from the clock says ‘You’re gonna get tired’/My bed is a pool and the walls are on fire."

So is Animal Collective.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

This just in: Joaquin Phoenix wants you to throw your hands in the aiyyyyyyyyyyyyyr and wave 'em like you just don't caaaaaaaaaaaaare.


It's Pazz & Jop time again, kids. They ran this, one of the the nine comments I submitted:

R.I.P. Paper Thin Walls. Not so much because I'm forced to bid adieu to yet another repository of sparkling crit wit and talent, or because another stream of steady work's gone dry, but because now my excuse to pummel Whiney with babbling e-mails all day when I'm supposed to be working is no more.

Anyway, here's my ballot:


Matmos, Supreme Balloon Matador
Atlas Sound, Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel Kranky
Prurient, And Still, Wanting No Fun
Ponytail, Ice Cream Spiritual! We Are Free
The Silver Jews,
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea Drag City
Burning Star Core,
Challenger Hospital
Clipse, Road to Till the Casket Drops Re-Up
Harry Pussy, You'll Never Play This Town Again Load
Thurston Moore,
Sensitive/Lethal No Fun
Cash Slave Clique,
White Props Panic Research Audio


Scott Weiland, "Paralysis" Softdrive
Juliette Commagere,
"Your Ghost" Aeronaut
Lil Wayne feat. Juelz Santana,
"Always Strapped" Young Money
"R U Experienced?" Universal Italy
"Where You Go I Go Too" Smalltown Supersound
Religious Knives,
"On a Drive" Ecstatic Peace!
Akon feat. Lil Wayne,
"I'm So Paid" Konvict Muzik / Universal Motown
Eric Copeland,
"Alien in a Garbage Dump" Paw Tracks
"Viva La Vida" Parlophone
Rosemary Krust,
"Private Amber" MT6/Spleen Coffin

Monday, January 19, 2009

Silly, Silly ABC Poem for Nodin - any ideas for a title? any and all are welcome

Acker bilked a complicit dromedary,
Easily fooled - gosh! - he impishly joked:
"Ken, let me notarize your opthomologist's placard."
"Quit rambling," the other countered, sternly tsk-tsking.
"Usually, victims whine,
xylophones chime,
yelling zither players aren't fine when I commit this crime!"


A Caribbean vacation.

Stuff I bought from with the iTunes gift card - my first one ever - my in-laws bought me for Christmas:

Deerhunter Fluorescent Grey EP
Fergie "Glamorous"
Lexie Mountain Boys
Sinead O'Connor "Nothing Compares 2 U"
Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers "Islands In The Stream"
Jazmine Sullivan Fearless
Sutekh Deposited Trails
That Dog "I'm Gonna See You"
Tovah "D-Day" (Note: This is not Tovah Olsen of Dead Machines, though it's a decent enough pop song, so be careful.)

Thanks again, Deb and Don!


The sleep - not the beard.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Dear proprietors of the eZ Mart in Camp Hill, PA:

I can forgive the fact that the only headphones you sell are, basically, ear buds for iPhones and iPods, and that they're obscenely expensive (about $15 with taxes included). Hey, everyone's gotta make a living.

I can even understand that shoplifting is a plague that never lets up, which is why you essentially have to bolt said headphones to the display rack - though, keeping said display rack right next to the door doesn't make a lot of sense, really, you oughta keep these kinds of things behind the counter, but whatever.

But if you've gotta bolt these products to the racks, at least know where the specialized tool that's used to undo the bolts is and how to use it. That's all I ask.

Ray Cummings

Monday, January 12, 2009

From this point forward, I'll be posting all the articles I write that can't be found by clicking the archive links to the right here, on this blog. This will include stuff that's only available in print and stuff that's out there online on alt-weekly sites with lame archiving functions - yep, there are still a few, even in 2009.
Somehow I haven't talked any about this, 2008's most genuinely WTF fast-food television commercial. Thanks, Mickey D's, for bringing Alecia and I countless hours of roffles. Keep the whackjobbery a'comin'. Expect a more thorough analysis someday soon.

Idiocy so insiduous that it haunts your dreams...

Thanks to Lisa for passing... this along. Whatever it is.
In terms of perfect pairings, shuffled-artist hip-hop mixtapes don't get much more on-point than this one does.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fans of crunchy, spiky electronic noise are advised to check out this all-of-a-sudden outta-nowhere, free-for-download album from Khate, a circuit-bending artist from Virginia (who I've gone on about here and elsewhere more than a few times - and deservingly so). I haven't heard it just yet, but will check in with my impressions as time allows.

If your interest is piqued, dig in at her site - she's got a huge, fantastic catalogue for sale there, with samples available.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Humor me. If you have an RSS feed to this blog, please post a comment. Color me curious...

SNOWY, SNOWY DAY: Nodin & Alecia

Friday, January 09, 2009

Beans: you can spill 'em once you've cleaned out your office and exited the building. True or not, quite the insider account.

Voguing to Danzig's Favoritest Individual Tracks of 2008

Akon feat. Lil Wayne "I'm So Paid"
Apes in the Aviary "My Neighbor's a Jehovah's Witness"
Asher Roth "Roth Boys"
Atlas Sound "Holiday"
Beach House "Gila"

Chris Brokaw "Canaris"
Coldplay "Viva la Vida"
Juliette Commagere "Your Ghost"
Crystal Stilts "Prismatic Room"
Eric Copeland "Alien in a Garbage Dump"
Deerhunter "Little Kids"
Jean Grae "Don't Rush Me"
Islands "Creeper"
Lil Wayne feat. Juelz Santana "Always Strapped"
Lindstrom "Where You Go I Go Too"
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks "Dragonfly Pie"
Negativland "Omnipotent Struggle"
Nine Inch Nails "Corona Radiata"
Our Brother the Native ""Trees Part 1"
Rainbow Arabia "Holiday in Congo"
The Re-Up Gang "Cry Now"
Religious Knives "On a Drive"
Rosemary Krust "Private Amber"
Stylophonic "R U Experienced?"
Jazmine Sullivan "Dream Big"
Max Tundra "Will Get Fooled Again"
Scott Weiland "Paralysis"
Kanye West "Robocop"

The Friday Interview: Alex Strama of MT6 Records

Voguing to Danzig: When did you decide that you wanted to start MT6 Records?

Alex Strama: Around 97' or 98'. I was starting to jam and record music with a bunch of friends. I'd just gotten a 4-track, and was taking full advantage of it. I had amassed hours and hours of material. I edited it down to 90 minutes and made a few copies. Literally: just a few for the people who played on it. I remember having very detailed notes of who played what, where it was recorded, etc. I came up with the idea of putting a label name on it, and came up with MT6. I really had no idea that there would be any more releases. The next release did not come out until a few years later, in 2000.

Voguing to Danzig: What does the "MT6" stand for?

Alex Strama: "Empty Six," like an Empty Six Pack of Beer. Pretty much sums up what's important. Along with making and performing the music, of course.

Voguing to Danzig: Were you a musician before you launched the label, or did you become one after the fact?

Alex Strama: Yea - I needed someone to release my shit!!

Voguing to Danzig: How many bands/projects are you a part of at this point? Does it ever become overwhelming keeping track? Do you ever come up with an especially bitchin' musical concept, only to agonize over where to slot it?

Alex Strama: I'm currently actively playing in Newagehillbilly, Heroin UK, and The Wire Orchestra. I wouldn't say it ever becomes overwhelming with all the bands - that's not something I would find a need to worry about. I'm proud of all them. Other bands I've played in are/were Operation Huss, RotGuts, DogShit, Pillage of the Glass City, Michael Spaxton, Therom, A) Torture Mechanism, Human Host, Low End Theory, CAVEMEN!!, Animal Twat, Balance, etc. As far as putting together schedules, I like to think that I don't favor my bands in the sweet time spots. I'll play whenever.
Voguing to Danzig: What do you do for a day job?

Alex Strama: I have two part-time jobs which make one full-time job. I take out home heating oil tanks: pump the fuel out, cut the tank, haul it out, scrape the sludge out of it. Pretty dirty and definitely Baltimore Blue Collar. If you watch The Wire on HBO, I go into those abandoned houses that are being rehabbed. All kinds of houses all over the city. I really see some fucking crazy living conditions that people deal with.
I also work at a shipping company, in the warehouse. Small family business, everyone is real cool. Packing boxes, driving a van.

Voguing to Danzig: Would you say that the Baltimore music scene - generally, or in terms of extreme underground music - is in a healthier state than it was in the late 1990s? How have things changed?

Alex Strama: Well, I didn't start playing shows in Baltimore City until 1999. At the time, I was playing in a pretty straight-ahead Rock/Punk/Indie band. The shows we were playing were mostly with other rock bands at places in Fells Point, Hightlandtown, and on Bel Air Road. I started getting into the Red Room, and that really opened me up to the experimental side of the city. I remember when Nautical Almanac moved to Baltimore in 2002. I was working at Mars Music, and they actually performed at the store. There was this basic-cable show taping live music footage on the stage there (pillage of the glass city did a taping a few weeks later). I feel like that was a point of change in my thoughts towards music, influencing me to try a lot of new things.

If anything, i would imagine that things are a shitload better than they were 10 years ago. National and international press are praising Baltimore for all of its creative output. It's interesting to see the changes in the city. Obviously, Wham City comes to mind, and is usually the first to be talked about in the press. They've put a lot of time and work into creating something very solid. Also, the rise of performance and arts spaces is a big factor. You can pretty much see any type of genre any night of the week. That's a huge deal if you think about it.
Voguing to Danzig: How's your daughter, Olivia, been? A while back, you released a benefit CD compilation to raise proceeds for her care...

Alex Strama: She is doing well. She had a heart transplant, and its as heavy as it sounds. It is something that will always be present in my life. When things with her are happening everything else is put on hold. The label has always been pretty much just me. So it runs at whatever pace I'm running at.

Voguing to Danzig: What are the best and worst aspects of running a record label?

Alex Strama: The best part is hearing all the new music, meeting and working with the bands, the people that come to shows, and everyone else involved. Getting orders for CDs is always a plus, and booking and playing shows has always been a highlight.

Voguing to Danzig: Of all the discs and cassettes you've released over the years, do you have a special favorite? Also, do you have a preferred media format - in terms of what’s easier to produce for sale and in terms of your own personal listening/interaction with music? Lately - as mp3 piracy's reached a fever pitch - underground acts seem to be favoring vinyl releases more and more often, even more so than in the 1990s.

Alex Strama: All the releases have their own personal stories and purposes. CDrs have been the main preferred media for the most part. They are really easy and quick to make, and are pretty cheap too. People are real familiar with them, and can be put into computers, ipods, etc. We have done CDs and 7" records over the years also. I would love to do more, but it is very expensive. I do agree that vinyl and cassette are becoming much more preferred by myself and others. It's not as easy to copy for your friends, rip it into your computer, and share it with the world. Vinyl records are true pieces of art. Future MT6 releases will be straying away from CDR, and going towards Vinyl, Cassette, and CD.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

raw dashed-off Merriweather Post Pavilion notes

In the Flowers - first instance of theme of escaping the body, being bigger than one's body, maybe (cf John Mayer). "if I could just leave my body for a night" in this case it's a matter of being able to be with loved ones despite being away on tour I think. Underwater sound/feel - wavy/fluttering acoustic gtrs exploding into electronics as if to symbolize the escape from a corporeal body as a spirit form, to symbolize an intense longing that brings about that result somehow.

My Girls - Opens with a flickering grid of synths. Which repeats through out, joined by handclaps and deep bass beats. "There isn’t much that I feel I need/A solid soul and the blood I bleed" "I only want a proper house" "I just want/Four walls and adobe slats for my girls" Shriek of ecstasy seems more Michael Jackson than usual, somehow? Lion King (vocals)? Being able to properly house one's family.

Also Frightened - reverb out the ass, Alice in Wonderland, the sense of creatures rustling leaves in some enchanted forest, pools of sorcery. Again: lion king. This one's fairly paternal: "are you also frightened"? Wishing/hoping for the best for one's offspring but unable to tamp down the sense of dread for them because the world's a fucked-up/scary/unpredictable place, etc.

Summertime Clothes - Standout track, like a revving engine/bucking bronco rarin' to go, and then it goes, and it's a beautiful thing to behold. In a sense this is an improved version of "Peacebone" from Strawberry Jam: high-caliber indie-clever lyricism yoked to sonics/ad-libs that actually have that euphoric classic AC feel everybody wants (which SJ had only in spots, which is why nobody really repped for it). Thump, thump, thump of that graphite bass (drum?) Again with the flashing synth mattrice/matrix. Infinitely quotable, essentially bringing us summer in the winter (take that, Hova!). Love the chattering voices in the background, makes this seem less like a great song than a "happening," a band of friends wandering the city naked at night in the dog-days of August or something, skipping and singing and just totally weirding out everybody who happens to be awake. Did I mention the Lion King yet?

Daily Routine - Here the momentum of all that came before starts to slacken - we tumble into a wowed daze at the slush-slides of broken-Lite Brite sonicz and vacuum-tubed vocal fuckery. Making sure the kids have what they need, etc: this is becoming a core theme along with disembodiment. Gets awesome when it trances out towards the end. Seriously, this song could've been waaaay longer, that stretched-syllable Lion King shit could've been extended to give the stoners time to re-pack a bowl/hookah and for the rest of us to just bliss bliss bliss ouuuuuuuuuuut. I have a weird feeling that AC will release a killer live version of this album officially sometime soon, and that it will make me even more happy that this disc already does - as if that's actually possible.

Bluish - Warp Records? A hint of Aphex Twin in there, which sorta comes outta nowhere. (there's a song from Richard D. James that's totally being ripped off here.) through a scanner darkly. No, through a clouded lense darkly. The verse/chorus style reminds me of somebody else but it's hard to pin it down. Maybe early Smashing Pumpkins, at their most candied? "Beautiful"? I think that's it. This one's about love or adoration. "Bluish" = blue balls? Maybe.

Guys Eyes - Beach Boys-esque! But they all are one way or the other. In-the-round-robin, vocal turns on a weird lazy susan, there's a sense of turning, of revolving, of a pleasant self-inflicted dizziness here. Thoughts spinning maybe. "I really want to do just what my body needs to/I keep it locked/I really want to show that I want her." BRIAN WILSON, BABY! LADIES AND GENTLEMAN: BRIAN WILSON! All the voices conflicting get a bit disorienting, but in a nice way. There's no sense of moving the album forward, again suggesting that after "Clothes" we're sorta in a gulch pace-wise. But I could care less.

"Taste" - LION KINNNNNNNNNNNNG! heh. This is on some petal-pretty candycane lane shit - w/r/t the punctuating synths spritzes - could be a Person Pitch outtake while simultanously being better than anything on that record. Also some rapper will totally spit over this on a mixtape sometime this year and it will work fine. Eminem could flip this into some bizaree and amazing. When the ejaculating synth evaporations kick in "taste" just shoots up a few notches into holy shit press repeat range. The beats/drums get tangled up in the synths, hard to tell everything apart, just kind of a hot mess, and that ensnarement mirrors the question that's asked over and over in the chorus (and which is in keeping with the album's concepts): "What I really want is a simple place/With no flashy clothes/Cuz you can't eat those" and "Am I really all the things that are outside of me?"
Let down by chicks in the past bullshit (I think) here and there, but it's beside the point now, right?
"Do you appreciate the subtlies of taste, girl?" Another improved gloss on "Peacebone" - snarky lyricism done right in the perfect sonic context, the trippy frocks muting but framing the edge in the words. Delicious, no pun intended.

Lion in a Coma - wordsallsmushedtogetherinabigashurry, horrid chorus lyric (Sometimes I feel well-to-do/Even though I don't know what to do, etc), spring-sprong effects everywhere which are neat, but. There had to be a downer here somewhere, a b-side, and this is definitely it. Should've been cut, thrown on a comp or a soundtrack.

No More Runnin' - Retirement, relaxation, the clearing at the end of the path, and so forth. The perfect ending - very calm and inviting and - I know, I know: LION KING-ESQUE.

Brothersport - Classic case of wrongheaded sequencing, because this shouldn't have ended this album. Don't get me wrong - this is a spectacular song that should be about 4 minutes longer, but the energy level's too high for this to be the endgame (check my prev writings about this song)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Favorite audience sign from tonight's WWE Raw: "Nick Hogan drove me here."

Friday, January 02, 2009

If TIME Magazine Had a "Smug, Deluded Jackass of 2008" Award, These Gentlemen Would Be Prime Contenders

MP3: Sutekh, Seph, DJ Koba, Etc. Super DJ Mix

Do you have an iron-clad attention span? Do you partake of the rave scene, of, how do you say, the Vitamin E? Do you have the wherewithall and sheer intestinal fortitude to listen to an eight-hour DJ mix in one sitting? (Not to mention the patience required to wait for the blasted thing to actually download?)

Then check this out.

I haven't heard it all just yet, but dig what I've been able to listen to so far. Happy New Year!