Posted by: db | November 13, 2011

Telephone Mix, November 2011

Telephone themed Mix for Gena. Check it out here.

1. Party Line – The Kinks
2. You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It) – The Undertones
3. Tulsa Telephone Book – Tom T. Hall
4. Cell Phone – All Girl Summer Fun Band
5. Private Number – Bob & Marcia
6. Always on the Telephone – Ladybug Transistor
7. Telephone Line – ELO
8. Girl on the Phone – The Jam
9. Pick Up the Phone – The Notwist
10. Call Me – Astrud Gilberto
11. The Phone Call – Pretenders
12. My Lover Won’t Call – Edith Frost
13. Your Phone’s Off the Hook, but You’re Not – X
14. Mr. Telephone Man – New Edition
15. Hangin’ on the Telephone – The Nerves
16. Operator – Brenda Holloway
17. The Party Line – The JetSet

That’s it… Let me know if you can think of any good songs that I missed. Thanks!

Posted by: db | October 5, 2011

New Wave of British Heavy Metal Mix

There isn’t a whole to be said about this one…

Every once in a while I try to “rock out” instead of listening to 90s sadcore or 80s jangle-pop or whatever. Problem is, I usually end up listening to Tygers of Pan Tang or something else a more committed metal enthusiast wouldn’t be caught dead jammin’ along with. I do, however, have enough cred to dislike soft-ass Def Leppard, so they don’t make an appearance here. I’m sure that most NWOBHM experts can put together a much stronger tracklist, these just happen to be some of my favorites (as if people actually have “favorite” Samson songs).

But I don’t wanna be too hard on myself, this mix is actually pretty great if you’re riding a motorcycle, about to fight another person using karate, or if you think that Satan is dangerous and/or rascally. Enjoy! (Download it here.)

Tracklist:

1. Angel Witch – Angel Witch
2. Denim and Leather – Saxon
3. Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
4. Demolition Boys – Girlschool
5. Cheated – Praying Mantis
6. Lambs to the Slaughter – Raven
7. Bad Reputation – Thin Lizzy
8. Riding with the Angels – Samson
9. The Story So Far – Tygers of Pan Tang
10. Give ‘Em Hell – Witchfynde
11. Stay Clean – Motörhead
12. Living After Midnight – Judas Priest
13. Lightning to the Nations – Diamond Head

Posted by: db | September 27, 2011

Smog – A Hit 7″ (1993)


This rare 2-song 7″ release from 1993 marks Bill Callahan’s first movement out of distortion drenched soundscapes into bizzaro singer-songwriter territory for which is (marginally) famous and beloved.

“A Hit” is an amazing summation of the lo-fi indie-rock zeitgeist of the early 1990s, perhaps even more than Sebadoh’s awesomely stupid “Gimme Indie Rock”, and it’s just what the doctor ordered is you wanna feel particularly angst-y and quietly, self-righteously puck as fuck. Meanwhile, b-side “Wine Stained Lips” is a first glimpse at some real lyrical skills that seem to appear fully formed and have become so commonplace on later-period Smog and Callahan records. This is a cool little treasure. Download it here.

1. A Hit
2. Wine Stained Lips

Posted by: db | September 20, 2011

Come – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

I’ve posted about this sadly underrated indie-rock band before. But being that today is the official repeal date of the  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, I thought to myself “hey, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is an awesome 90s rock album too”. Haven’t posted in a while, but let’s hope the federal government repeals their seriously unwise “Bee Thousand” policy soon too. (Download Don’t Ask Don’t Tell here.)

1. “Finish Line” (6:34)
2. “Mercury Falls” (4:16)
3. “Yr Reign” (4:19)
4. “Poison” (2:26)
5. “Let’s Get Lost” (7:07)
6. “String” (3:49)
7. “German Song” (5:54)
8. “In/Out” (4:45)
9. “Wrong Side” (4:45)
10. “Arrive” (7:36)

Posted by: db | June 29, 2011

Michael Nesmith – Magnetic South

Michael “Nez” Nesmith is a weird guy. He’s a bit of an anomaly in music, having walked away from the certainty of lifelong fame as a member of the Monkees. You know, he’s the “one with the hat”. However, it was probably a touch easier for Nesmith to disregard (further) fame and fortune, having grown up the lone heir to the liquid paper fortune after his mother invented what we now refer to as White Out.

Magnetic South, technically Nesmith’s third solo release, feels very much like his first proper statement as an emancipated solo artist. After leaving the Monkees in the late-60s, the countrified flavor of his original compositions for that super-group came into full bloom. Here he treads similar territory to that which late-period Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers were covering, albeit with a particularly pleasing and uniquely off-beat sense of humor and charm.

The album, which stands as one of the better of a consistently strong 1970s output, is quite brief. Yet in 11 tracks in just over 30 minutes, Nesmith packs a variety of traditional folk and blues styles with the high-concept feeling of a late-60s concept record creating one exciting and complicated stew. Backed by his own First National Band, the playing, particularly Red Rhodes pedal steel, is top notch – the sound of a real country band, not just a pop star pretending to be rootsy for street cred. Stand out tracks include the opener “Calico Girlfriend” and the ballad “Joanne”.

Frankly, this guys is amazing. Beyond his innovative country-rock records of the 1970s, he’s responsible for composing the Linda Rondstadt and the Stone Ponys mega-hit “Different Drum“, producing the classic 80s films Tapesheads and Repoman, pioneering video’s relationship to music, and sits as a board member of the American Film Institute. Complex indeed! It’s high time we play a little more attention to this gentleman. (Download Michael Nesmith & the First National Band’s Magnetic South here.)

1. Calico Girlfriend
2. Nine Times Blue
3. Little Red Rider
4. The Crippled Lion
5. Joanne
6. First National Rag
7. Mana Nantucket
8. Keys to the Car
9. Hollywood
10. One Rose
11. Beyond the Blue Horizon

Posted by: db | March 8, 2011

RIP: Musicians Who Died In 2010

Perhaps the most interesting thing about music in 2010, a relatively unexciting year from my perspective, was the passing of some amazingly innovative musicians, singers, and songwriters.

The most obvious loss was Alex Chilton (kind of the inventor of indie rock?), still a vaguely youthful guy when he died last year. Soul and rock giants like Solomon Burke, Don Van Vliet AKA Captain Beefheart, and Teddy Pendergrass passed away as well. Lesser known artists like General Norman Johnson of the Chairmen of the Board and the Showmen, Chilton’s Big Star bandmate Andy Hummel, and Garry Shider AKA Diaper Man from Funkadelic died too.

Lena Horne, Ari Up of the Slits, even Jimmy Dean… Basically, last year was a bummer if you really like great music, especially 60s and 70s rock, soul, and funk. The following mix is a collection of some of my favorite songs by artists who passed away in 2010. Give it a listen here.

1. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
2. Good Girls Don’t – The Knack
3. You’ve Got Me Dangling On a String – Chairmen of the Board
4. Stormy Weather – Lena Horne
5. Instant Hit – The Slits
6. The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me – Teddy Pendergrass
7. (The) Happy Song – The Box Tops
8. Cry to Me – Solomon Burke
9. Little Black Book – Jimmy Dean
10. Fight the Power – The Isley Brothers
11. It Will Stand – The Showmen
12. Can You Get to That? – Funkadelic
13. I’m Watching You – Jay Reatard
14. If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes
15. Way Out West – Big Star
16. I’m Glad – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

Posted by: db | December 16, 2010

Mississippi John Hurt – The 1928 Okeh Recordings

Mississippi John Hurt played simple, plaintive blues. Unlike Son House or Robert Johnson, John Hurt didn’t howl at the moon or make deals with the devil. His beautifully finger-picked, melodic acoustic guitar and honest whisper-of-a-voice express a resignation to the sadness and loss inherent in everyday life.

Just like his delivery, Hurt’s guitar sound is somewhat atypical of a southern blues man for the time, sounding considerably more controlled and intricate. It will be instantly familiar to fans of acoustic guitar troubadours like John Fahey and Leo Kottke (whom I hope to blog about soon). However, his sound is bare-bones, laying out the skeletal framework that these masters built complex, retro-futuristic folk inventions overtop of in the 1960 and 70s. Comparisons can even be drawn to the dusty, faux-old fashioned sound of artists like M. Ward and the many indie-folks revivalists of the day. For my money, though, the somber John Hurt stands in a rather gentlemanly class of his own.

Having recorded only two sessions during his prime, Avalon Blues: The Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings includes all of Hurt’s documented output before his unexpected discovery by Tom Hoskins in the 1960s (calling it a rediscovery wouldn’t be fair to history) and subsequent emergence as a hero in the folk revivalist scene of the time. Give a listen to “Louise Collins” or his version of the popular 1920s standard “Frankie and Johnny” (here simply entitled “Frankie”) and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Please! Do it! (Download it here.)

Posted by: db | November 26, 2010

Chocolate USA – Smoke Machine

Years before the Elephant 6 Collective drew massive attention for reinventing psychedelic 60s pop in the late 1990s, Neutral Milk Hotel “singing saw” player and Music Tapes leader Julian Koster served as chief-songwriter and leader of a messy, fun, and considerably less-popular indie-rock band called Chocolate USA.

Although they’re all but forgotten now, Chocolate USA released 2 albums on then-popular Bar/None Records and even ran their own “Chocolately Good Smash Hit of the Month Club” for a few years, back when monthly 7″ and tape clubs were all the rage in the American underground. Sadly, 7″s are fairly rare, cassette tapes are thrift store curios, and Bar/None Records… well, they actually still exists and quietly release some decent stuff.

Much of Chocolate USA’s output is what you might expect from a young, ramshackle early 90s collective: Their finer moments are often outshown by experiments that flat-out don’t work (like the nonsensical Doogey Houser impersonations on their first record All Jet Are Gonna Fall Today). However, by 1994 a few members had left and been replaced by folks with actual technical ability, and Koster had abandoned his sometimes immaturely self-conscious commitment to the lo-fi aesthetic for an impassioned and confident, albeit no less weird and twisted vision.

Listening to Smoke Machine now, one hears the stange and damaged perspective of young people who don’t much like the real world they’re growing into. Honestly, this album feels kinda like the musical equivalent of Scott Spencer’s Endless Love. Songs like “Bookbag” and “The Boy Who Stuck His Head in the Dryer” recount youthful exploits filled with mistrust and mistakes. The banjo-based indie-pop thump of “Glow Worm” simply shines in a self-loathing, but terribly sweet manner that’s rare – and quite touching.

Musically, the album is wrapped up in a violin-heavy mix that suggests obvious reference points like Camper Van Beethoven and other 80s college-rock heroes. Smoke Machine also exhibits a number of traits that would later become the trademarks of Elephant 6 bands like odd instrumentation, a pseudo-concept album feel, and an emotional resonance few indie-rockers could muster. Additionally, this record has the ability to transport you back to a magical time when your biggest concerns were fixing your skateboard trucks and finding an upperclassman to buy you cigarettes. Pretty cool. (Download Chocolates USA’s Smoke Machine.)

 

Tracklist:

  1. USA: MILKIEST THEME
  2. BOOKBAG
  3. MY CHERRY BOMB
  4. ANOTHER LEGO IN THA CROSS
  5. (Unlisted Track)
  6. THE BOY WHO STUCK HIS HEAD IN THE DRYER
  7. INTERMISSION
  8. PLAYING IN THE MUD
  9. UGLY GIRL
  10. MILK (THEME)
  11. ISN’T A LIE…/GLOW WORM
  12. WE STOLE THE COW
Posted by: db | September 10, 2010

X – More Fun In the New World

It’s a downright shame that X never broke through to a mainstream audience. They, perhaps more than any other US “punk” group of the time, looked outward to world and found as much beauty and wonder as they did pain and cynicism. This honest, inclusive approach is reflected deeply in their willingness to incorporate folk, country, and rockabilly styles amongst others into their sound.

X’s open minded nature is likely the reason they’re rarely named-checked as favorites of the sometimes inflexible and deeply ideological punk scene. That being said, their refusal to temper their strong social commentary and somewhat “radical” world-view made it all but impossible for them to score a huge hit with mainstream audiences that weren’t willing to step to far out of their comfort zone. So, there you have it, another amazing band that many music fan’s never quite “get” or might not even get a chances to hear.

The polarities of X’s personality came together as seamlessly and successfully as ever on More Fun In the New World. This is the record, as some great bands have, where their stylistic divergences and extra-curricular interests become fully ingrained into their sound. It’s important to note, however, that with all the little quirks, big hooks, and fun this record has to offer, it still retains that indelible punk-rock spirit and relentless pace.

The opening track, “The New World”, is the sound of a band that would be comfortable playing with anyone from Black Flag to the Talking Heads to REM. “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” is a classic, almost noir-ish 1980s-style investigation into the dark-side of the good life (I kinda wish this tune was on the “Less Than Zero”, “American Psycho”, or even the “Wall Street” soundtrack). And “Poor Girl” is one of the saddest, most passionate rocker’s upon this good earth – it’s also my ALL-TIME-FAVE X tune.

Friends, I implore you, give this album a listen! (Download More Fun In the New World here.)

 

Tracklist:

1. New World
2. We’re Having Much More Fun
3. True Love
4. Poor Girl
5. Make the Music Go Bang
6. Breathless
7. I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
8. Devil Doll
9. Painting the Town Blue
10. Hot House
11. Drunk in My Past
12. I See Red
13. True Love, Pt. 2

 

Posted by: db | August 22, 2010

August 2010 Mix

As we slowly crawl towards my favorite season, I’m finishing up a summer of disciplined listening characterized by creating specific musical homework assignments for myself. Most of these assignments have been attempts to force myself into confronting some of the foolish assumptions that I’ve made about music throughout my youth, and have since carried into my adulthood. Basically, I’m trying to unlearn some dumb prejudices that crept into my thinking way back in the 90s when I was more than a little concerned with how punk everything was.

Case in point: I’ve always assumed that reggae was ridiculous, and there simply couldn’t be any “serious music” in the genre. So, I decided to read about and listen to as much reggae as I possibly could, in a journey to find the great albums or  at least some stuff that isn’t that lame. As it turns out, it’s mostly the serious stuff that is lame, with the artists that focus on hooks, a reverence for American soul, and fun tending to be much more enjoyable than those with that pesky “message” vibe. Especially when their message is “smoke weed” or something about Ethiopia that doesn’t seem to make sense. Wow, lots of quotation marks so far.

In addition to the reggae/rocksteady/ska stuff, you’ll find my continued obsession with 90s indie-rock on full display (Unrest, Antietam, Beatnik Filmstars) and some great new-to-me 80s British jangly-stuff (Jasmine Minks, Weather Prophets). As we all know, Rhino has always done amazing job of putting together great compilations of under-appreciated genres and bands, and recently I’ve been exploring some great early R&B, doo-wop, and girl group stuff that they’ve collected. The Cadillacs and Chantels are representative of some of that listening.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah: I was lucky enough to see Yo La Tengo again recently, and was completely blown away that they dusted off the Only Ones tune “The Whole of the Law” as their final, near-a cappella encore of the evening. They originally recorded a cover of the song on their album “Painful” over 15 years ago. Both band’s studio versions appear on the mix, both of which are quite gorgeous. Enjoy, and, as always, thanks sooooooo much for reading! (Download Slow, Slow Music’s August 2010 Mix here.)

The paintings used for this month’s cover art and post-banner-thing were done by a man named Aaron Smith. I stumbled upon Aaron’s work a few weeks ago whilst perusing the internet for interesting things and clicking on random stuff. Honestly, I can’t for-the-life-of-me remember what blog or website originally introduced me to his work, but, luckily, he runs his own site with a sampling of his fine work here.

1. Angel I’ll Walk You Home – Unrest
2. Hands Down – Antietam
3. The Whole of the Law – The Only Ones
4. No Man’s Land – Fairport Convention
5. Play Me – Marcia Griffiths
6. I Don’t Know – The Jasmine Minks
7. Gloria – The Cadillacs
8. Bigot Sponger Haircut Policy – Beatnik Filmstars
9. It’s Cold Outside – The Choir
10. Manchmal – Cluster
11. Pull Me Over – Lonely Trailer
12. The Backyard – Miracle Legion
13. Song to the Siren – Tim Buckley
14. I Wear My Slanders – The Gaylads
15. Fire – Arthur Brown
16. Maybe – The Chantels
17. You’re My Ambulance – The Weather Prophets
18. Private Number – Bob & Marcia
19. Covers and Pages – Moviola
20. Cold Heart – The Jasmine Minks
21. Certain Muse – Antietam
22. Black Metallic – Catherine Wheel
23. The Whole of the Law – Yo La Tengo
24. Splat – Bailter Space
25. Big Sister’s Clothes – Elvis Costello & the Attractions

PS: I’m desperately seeking an mp3 of the song “Payday” by the tremendous 90s and 00s Columbus, OH band Moviola. Please let know if you have one that you’d be kind enough to pass along. Thanks again!

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