Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ween - "Buckingham Green" from the CD The Mollusk
Dungen - "Sluta Följa Efter" from the CD Ta Det Lugnt

Ween The Mollusk CD coverTa Det Lugnt CD cover
To understand the circumstances of today's missive, it might be helpful first to understand, as McLovin might say, how I roll.

You see, here at the La Historia home offices, the death of the album is not just another fuzzy sociological conceit: it's a way of life.

Time was, the way I'd introduce myself to new music was to 1) read something about an interesting album in Spin or hear something interesting while out somewhere, 2) go to Y & T's or some other indie record store to buy the full-length & 3) take it home and listen to it immediately, all the way through.

Ha! Silly naive days those were.

I still get Spin, but because I am cloistered and old, I almost never go anyplace where I might hear good music I'm unfamiliar with. But no matter: the internet is quite large, you may have noticed, and I travel its byways extensively.

Like, I may not have remembered in what corner of the net I had found that little essay which claimed Genesis' "The Firth of Fifth" was the infinitely superior source material for Kansas' "Song For America." But read it I did, and the fact that once I heard the Genesis song, the clown who wrote it was proved comically wrong doesn't even matter. What's important is how the websites and blogs and discussion rooms of the internet are better catalysts by far for the introduction of new music unto oneself than any kind of half-assed "social life" ever was.

Needless to say, Yesterday & Today's and most like them are gone, so the delivery method has changed too. When I frequented Y & T's, Rich wasn't going to sell me "The Firth of Fifth"--he was gonna sell me Selling England by the Pound. So it's certainly better for me now that the iTunes store or Amazon are willing to sell me the track for 99 cents--which is about 30% of what Rich might have charged me for a used copy of the Genesis LP back then, and never mind the difference between 2010 and 1985 dollars.

But the last difference between these days and those is I think the greatest. Staying with the Genesis thing, once I'd given Rich Ulloa my 4 bucks and gotten back on my bicycle and ridden home, I'd immediately yank the vinyl out of its sleeve and pop it onto my turntable.

It wasn't like, "at last, 'The Firth of Fifth,'" but it was a part of the ritual, that was your day, you went to the cool store with the cool posters on the wall, you bought it while browsing for stuff to buy next time, you rode (or drove) home thinking of playing it when you got home, and then you played it, all of it all at once, hope that worked out for you.

Music delivery these days is either so trivial and instantaneous, or so drawn out, that there is no ritual and no process left about it at all.

I didn't even buy "The Firth of Fifth," truth be known. I downloaded it off eMule. I put it in the queue on a Tuesday; it came in on a Thursday, and I noticed that it had done so on Friday. By that time, the whole Kansas comparison had become a little hazy in my recollection, so while I was still interested, I didn't feel compelled to listen to the thing immediately. I instead copied it into my iTunes library. The next time Autoshuffle cued it up, or Autofill copied it onto Jr., was good enough for me.

I still do buy CD's, usually through Amazon or eBay, but you know what? That takes a week also. I follow the same procedure. Once I've received them in my mailbox, I'll rip off the cellophane, drop the disc into my CD drive, let iTunes import the whole disc, and put the disc away in long term storage.

I've been typically verbose, but hopefully you get the deal: with music for me, it's find it one day, get it another, and hear it a third, with the days sometimes being separated by weeks or possibly months.

So then.

Going a little time back, I had read this interview with Rick Wakeman somewhere online. They interviewer had asked him whether he had any favorites among the new prog bands. He was a fan of the Pure Reason Revolution, I remember, and maybe of The Secret Machines, too. He also mentioned a Swedish band called Dungen, so I queued some of their songs up just to, you know, see what Rick was on about, and moved on to the next thing.

Because I handle my music the way I've explained, months pass without development. Then, as I'm driving to work Wednesday, Jr. plays "Sluta Följa Efter"--and I start laughing uncontrollably.

I had no idea the song was by Dungen, the band liked by Rick Wakeman. Any one playlist for Jr. is bound to include 10 or 15 songs I've never heard before, and while I now see as I probe that I had heard one of Dungen's songs before Wednesday, "Sluta Följa Efter" was completely new to me on that day. Although it HAD sounded like something I knew . . . .

Each time I autofill my iPod, I print out a copy of the playlist to take with me so I can refer to it if perplexed anytime by a song's provenance. So I had that floating around in the car somewhere if I could find it to fill me in, but I'm also in 70 mph traffic, might be hard to grab it in that pile of paper on the floor of the passenger side, among the old yellowing copies of Spin and Smithsonian, hidden among its obsolete brethren, concealed among the car repair receipts, clutter as always my bane, and I'm also, you know, laughing spastically.

It was Ween's fault, of course.

Of course. The man behind Dungen is Gustav Estjes, and he's a serious Swede who's clearly got his psych-prog and orchestral prog down pat, don't get me wrong. The fuzz guitar is pretty smoking and the shrill feedback too, what do you think about THAT*? All the atmospherics are there, the reverb and the treated piano, and the black hashish too I bet. The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack doesn't do it any better.

But unfortunately for my serious appreciation of Dungen, the fuckers in Ween got to me first, with The Mollusk and with "Buckingham Green." And now, whenever I hear any over-the-top psych prog with fuzzed vocals and fuzzed guitar with the widdly-woo keyboards, I'm going to think of the irreverent clowns in Ween, who made the sendup nautical prog album, and who have the disarming ability to produce parody that is both hilariously incisive AND incisively authentic.

Or in my case, whether I should be laughing or not

Ween - The Mollusk - 12- Buckingham Green.mp3

This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

File under: Psych/Prog Parody

Dungen - Ta Det Lugnt - 13 - Sluta Följa Efter.mp3

This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

File under: Psych/Prog Revival

*Though the songs are otherwise nothing alike, "Sluta Följa Efter" with its shrill feedback actually reminded me of "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Seattle." You don't hear that shrill feedback very often, it's usually more . . . . sculpted. (Return)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beatallica - "The Thing That Should Not Let it Be" from the Web Download Garage Dayz Nite

Garage Dayz Nite ArtworkBack in '04, it seemed worth a flyer, anyhow.

Who don't love the Beatles? And I like SOME rap, even if they'd all call it old school by now.

So, yeah, I thought, what the fuck, let's download the Danger Mouse Grey Album, this amalgamation of the Beatles and some rapper I'd not been previously familiar with named Jay-Z, this "mashup" thing that everyone seems to be talking about as 2004 ripens and matures . . . .

If I'd liked it, I could have moved on to mashups that combined Jay-Z's a cappella rhymes with the music of Weezer, or even, my goodness, the mind boggles, Pavement.

Well, I didn't move on because I didn't like it. I didn't think The Grey Album was silly, not really, and I didn't think it was stupid. But I definitely didn't get it. I didn't--and still don't--understand why anyone would listen to Beatles tracks with these sludgy rhymes placed on top, no matter how cleverly it might have been done, when the originals were just fine.

I guess what it is, I thought that maybe The Grey Album would help me get into Jay-Z, but the way the deal works, is, you've got to already be into Jay-Z to like The Grey Album.

So I still haven't heard The Slack Album, probably never will.

But at the very least, I became familiar with the concept of the mashup, and when during a slow patch at work one day, I ran across the Beatallica article at Wikipedia, I was already primed.

Nothing not to like, right? Well, except for "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da" and Load, but let me tell you: in the main, I am rock solid with Beatallica's sources. Plus, they're a band I could conceivably go and see, and none of the band members wears a giant mouse costume.

Like Danger Mouse, Beatallica received some Cease and Desist letters from Sony/AMG, the loveable caretakers of The Beatles catalog. Although some sort of settlement was reached (brokered apparently by the members of Metallica!) that has since allowed Beatallica to sell their music, perhaps that's why the mashup hasn't grown in popularity since its 2004 heyday. No-one wants to risk getting sued by a multibillion dollar conglomerate.

A shame really, because there's so much in the mashup field that's yet to be accomplished. Why, I myself happen to have a small list of ideas, culled from the La Historia de la Musica Rock playlists, just waiting for the properly motivated DJing talent to actualize them into the classics they would surely become.

Somebody get on these, OK?

  • "Another Green Hell World" -- Brian Eno & The Misfits, together at last
  • "Ashtray Heart Cooks Brain" -- Captain Beefheart & Modest Mouse
  • "Beautiful World of Pain" -- Devo & Cream
  • "Birdhouse in Your Soul Sauce" -- They Might Be Giants & Cal Tjader
  • "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaosmongers" -- Public Enemy & Voivod
  • "BYOB True To Your School" -- System of a Down & The Beach Boys
  • "Drinking and Driving Me Backwards" -- Black Flag & Eno
  • "Dreamworld Up My Ass" -- Midnight Oil & The Circle Jerks
  • "Good Mourning, Black Captain" -- Megadeth & Slint
  • "Fists of Love Rollercoaster" -- Big Black & The Ohio Players, biotch.
  • "Harold of the Rocks Off" -- Primus & The Rolling Stones
  • "Hit the Plane Down by the River" -- Pavement & Neil Young
  • "Infinite Space Cowboy" -- Emerson Lake & Palmer/Steve Miller Band
  • "I'm Five Years Ahead of my Maritime" -- The Third Bardo & Isis
  • "It's The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel The Burning Sun)"
         -- REM & Crowbar
  • "Ma-Ma-Ma-Bel Air" -- ELO & Can
  • "Remember Tomorrow Never Knows" -- Iron Maiden & The Beatles
  • "Ring of Fire Engine Passing With Bells Clanging"
         -- Johnny Cash & The Soft Machine
  • "Sex Bomb Repeat Sex Bomb" -- Ted Leo & Flipper
  • "Ted Just Admit It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry"
         -- Jane's Addiction & Bob Dylan

  • Beatallica - 05 - The Thing That Should Not Let It Be.mp3

    128 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (or more) (right click and save as target)

    File under: Bigger Than Cthulhu

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    John Denver - "Calypso" from the album Windsong
    The Butthole Surfers - "Bar-B-Q Pope" from the album Butthole Surfers

    John Denver Windsong album coverThink, when buying Butthole Surfer material, on how they fucked Corey Rusk over but good
    My Melanie is going through another one of her Heino phases. For the past two weeks, she's been running around saying ridiculous things like, "Heino is the greatest singer of the free world," and "I can't imagine a world without Heino."

    And just this morning, after having posted the cover image on her Facebook page earlier in the week, she cracked open Great Hits No. 5 and started playing it at a volume so that the cats and I could hear it loud and clear. "Who could forget this great hit?" she called out ecstatically to me--to the world, really--as one of the German language tracks began to play, the cheese oozing prodigiously out despite the linguistic barrier, maybe it was "Das Alpenrosenlied" or perhaps "Es zogen auf sonnigen Wegen."

    That's right, folks; it's been schlagers up the wazoo, here at the La Historia main offices.

    And needless to say, it's been irony overload, too. I mean, more power to Melanie. If you can't have fun with your music--or actually someone else's--then what can you have fun with? Other than sex and booze and drugs and movies and cats, of course.

    But never mind all of that: just so I can be square on the subject, I'll ask Melanie whether she really likes Heino, and it's infuriating because she won't give me a straight answer. She'll look me in the eye, though, and tell me "Heino's the BEST," and "I won't have you making insinuations about Heino."

    It's as if I'm trapped in a recursive loop of irony; I can't escape. I'm like, "OK, honey, I love you. Now step outside the funny joke for a moment and speak plainly, without the ironic detachment. Just so I can know one way or the other whether you really like this artist, this horrible, horrible artist."

    And she'll say "Heino's GREAT!"

    If Melanie doesn't cycle on to a new phase, Tom Lehrer, Esquivel, shoegazer, Pee Shy, the early 80's New Wave, whatever, sometime soon, I think my brain's gonna explode.

    But if or when the old cranium does go kablooey, it won't be Melanie's fault, not really. I'll instead blame it on the postmodernists, through whose baleful influence we have now arrived at a place where it's strictly optional, for your lovely girlfriend, or for anyone else, to say when making a reference whether they actually like the thing they're referring to or not.

    It's all about the obscuring shroud of the blithely disengaged, baby.

    American Psycho Paperback cover
    Christ, it can get frustrating. Ever wonder what Bret Easton Ellis actually thinks about Huey Lewis and the News, or about Genesis? He gives each a whole fucking chapter in American Psycho and you still don't know!

    Or switching from books to music, how about our lovable and unquestionably postmodern Butthole Surfers? "Bar-B-Q Pope" literally calls out snippets from "Calypso." But the ironic and bemused detachment the band wears like some kind of psychedelic shawl prevents the listener from figuring out what the band really thinks about the source material they've just ripped off! Talk about a fear of commitment . . . .

    Come on guys, just come down on one side of the fence or the other, just once, you know? It can't possibly hurt.

    Check it out: Just broadly speaking now, Genesis were ambitious, but arch and pedantic early on, then became, with some few exceptions, a load of crap. Huey Lewis and his band were so generic in concept that it precluded greatness, but they were still able to make some pretty good singles. "Bad is Bad" is good, if you know what I'm saying.

    And "Calypso," despite its unapologetically lush orchestration, and despite its singer's decidedly uncool granolahead reputation, gives me the chills everytime I hear it, it's so very pretty.

    It's all about the music, people. If I can disregard the fact that Sid Vicious made a habit of kicking his fans in the balls, and still enjoy "Pretty Vacant," or if I can at least get past the sad fact when I hearSex Pistols' Pretty Vacant 7-inch "Lipstick Vogue" that Elvis Costello called Ray Charles a "blind ignorant nigger," then why the fuck should I care what the skinheads or the Talking Head snobs think about John Denver?

    Gibby, Bret, let me tell ya: it kind of feels good, letting the world know where you stand.

    I don't care what those waffling postmodernists say. It may indeed all be grist for the mill; nonetheless, there's no reason at all to hedge your bets. This blog (along with most of the others) is proof enough.

    John Denver - Windsong - 11 - Calypso.mp3

    This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

    File under: Granolaheads, Singer-songwriter

    The Butthole Surfers - The Butthole Surfers - 04 Bar-B-Q Pope.mp3

    This file was removed May 22, 2010. If you're still way interested in coming up with a copy of this--and really can't figure out where you might get one--drop me an email and I'm sure I'll be able to figure something out for you.

    File under: Pigfuck, Postpunk, the Dreaded Ironic Detachment