Monday, July 03, 2017

From the heartland....

John [Cougar] Mellencamp - "Between A Laugh And A Tear"

From the album Scarecrow (1985), the transition album between John Cougar and John Mellencamp. An effective and sometimes moving slice of Springsteenesque classic rock, stripped down to guitars, bass, and drum. Backing vocals by Rickie Lee Jones



A bonus track: "On Saturday Afternoons in 1963" by Rickie Lee Jones from her self-titled debut (1979).


Thursday, June 29, 2017

kara-Lis coverdale - Grafts EP

This is kara-Lis coverdale with her recent EP Grafts.

Someone described her prior album (Aftertouches) as an "acrylic portrait of a Cronenberg-esque organism, morphing, half human, half machine."


John Cale - The Sleeper

From the album Artificial Intelligence (1985)

"I was the moth stuck on your pin..."


Sunday, June 04, 2017

Beach House

We saw Beach House in San Pedro on April 20, 2016. Fantastic show. I'll never forget it.





































The best song at the show?

Here:


Abba - Medley (Pick a Bale of Cotton, etc.)

I can't tell if this 'song'--an Abba single b-side that was basically a medley of three different standards--was considered thoroughly inappropriate for all manner of historically troubling reasons... BUT when it came out (September 1978), I found it strangely more alluring/disturbing than the a-side ("Summer Night City").

The three songs spliced together on the b-side are:

"Pick a Bale of Cotton" (an old spiritual originally recorded as early as 1933 by James "Iron Head" Baker and then later by the more famous Lead Belly in the 1940s and the song which makes this reproduction by Abba the most troubling)
"On Top of Old Smokey" (a traditional folk song originally recorded by The Weavers in 1951)
"Midnight Special" (a traditional folk song from the American South whose first recording dates back to 1926, and was also recorded by Lead Belly in 1934)

For an interesting history of "Pick a Bale of Cotton" and its dubious place in the history of racism in the U.S., see here.

The Abba version was originally recorded in 1975 (!) but released as the b-side of "Summer Night City" in September 1978.

How to even unpack how wrong this is? And yet, yet, amazing to think that Abba had a strangely outside-the-box aesthetic, way back, before The Album (their clear magnum opus), before Arrival...?


Saturday, June 03, 2017

Cockney Rebel - Mirror Freak

Is there one track that you think of (maybe "Tomorrow Never Knows"?) that seems soooo far ahead of its time that you feel completely dislocated (distempered?) when you find out when it was actually released/recorded? (A list of those songs would undoubtedly also include any song from the Modern Lovers debut ["She Cracked" anyone?], anything by Kraftwerk, 1970s Eno, Tangerine Dream, Doctors of Madness, stuff from Revolver and the White Album, James Brown, Death [not the metal band], and yes, the Velvets entire goddamn canon).

But here, my friends is the final track on Side One of Cockney Rebel's album The Glass Menagerie. From 1973! Yes, yes, they were a sub-second-rate glam outfit overshadowed by Bowie, Roxy, Slade, etc. But as Simon Reynolds notes, weren't the second raters really pumping the reddest most bloody blood into the heart of glam?

You hear this song (and indeed the album) and you wonder if young John Lydon wasn't internalizing some vocal affectations that would come in handy later....

And so sexy.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Lacunae

DON'T LISTEN TO, OR REALLY LIKE THAT MUCH, BUT PROBABLY SHOULD
Bands/artists I don't like (but I probably should):

OLD STUFF
- Leonard Cohen
- Bruce Springsteen
- Derek & The Dominoes / "Layla," etc.
- Eric Clapton (any part of his career)
- Beach Boys / Brian Wilson / Smile, etc.
- Grateful Dead
- Kiss
- Rush
- Frank Zappa
- King Crimson
- Electric Light Orchestra

NEWISH STUFF
- The Hold Steady
- Wolf Parade
- Perfume Genius
- Sufjan Stevens
- Father John Misty
- Animal Collective
- Grimes
- Sun Kil Moon
- Tame Impala

NOT BAD / NOT GOOD, BUT EXCESSIVE AFFECTATIONS OF CLEVER
Bands/artists I think are overrated and represent a kind of mediocrity disguised as cleverness:

- Tom Petty (with or without the Heartbreakers)
- Elvis Costello

OK I GUESS
Bands/artists that are fine (and often quite good) but are somewhat overrated in the pantheon of pop, rock, and rap, and now it's just too late and too much to try and mount a challenge to the orthodoxy:

- Beyonce
- Jimi Hendrix
- Metallica
- Nick Cave
- Nick Drake

I LIKE THEM! I DON'T CARE!
Bands that will never get any cred from critics but I unabashedly love them and think they are brilliant:

- Tool
- Bauhaus
- Tears For Fears
- Alice in Chains
- Monster Magnet

DONE WITH THEM
BAND THAT I USED TO LIKE BUT OVERPLAY and TOO MANY COMPILATIONS AND REPACKAGING OF SAME OLD MATERIAL HAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED ANY JOY IN EVER LISTENING TO THEM AGAIN
- The Who

BLASPHEMY
Bands whose critically acclaimed phases (e.g., Roxy Music in 1972-73) I think were not as good as the other stuff they did:

- Wire (I much prefer their Eurotrash techno-pop from the '80s over their initial three-album run)
- fiREHOSE (much prefer fIREHOSE to Minutemen; yes, I just said that)
- Flaming Lips (much prefer their mid-period acid psychedelia from late 80s/early '90s to their later Brian Wilson-esque The Soft Bulletin, etc.)
- Husker Du (much prefer the last two albums over earlier stuff)