Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pee Shy - "Little Dudes" from the CD Who Let All The Monkeys Out?

I'd like to welcome as my guestblogger this week my lovely girlfriend Melanie. She'd had an idea for a piece centering around her experiences when she lived in Tampa in the '90's, and a song that continues to take her back, and I am glad to post it. Melanie's writing is always so exuberant; it's a quality I am envious of, as all I can ever get out of my writing is a weary cynicism . . . .

At any rate, I hope you enjoy Melanie's take on Pee Shy and Tampa, back when it was cool, as much as I did . . .

* * * * * * * * * * *

The longest continuous sidewalk in the world. . .

It's been many years since I left Tampa. As my memory grows dimmer with age, I try to reconstruct bits of my life there, through the use of music and photographs.

For me, the best representatives of the Tampa music scene of the mid 1990's was the local band, Pee Shy. Everytime I listen to their music now, I'm transported back to my grotto-like apartment off of Howard Ave. I'm cruising around town in my 1981 Ford Fairmont that I called 'Mee-Ma.' Goin' to all the coolest places. Sunshine Thrift store, Hugo's for the best Cuban sandwiches, Eccentricities for the latest Doc Marten styles.

Night-time is the best time. If it's Tuesday, friends and I are going to Angelica's Cafe down in Ybor for Starving Artists' night to eat the best Mexican food around for two bucks a plate! Stroll around 7th and then pop into The Castle with it's gorgeous dark interior and cracked marble bar with water running across the top that dribbled down into a fountain. Out back, in the small outdoor courtyard, guys and gals chatting under the colored lights. Tattoos were soooo COOL, back then!

On another night, I might be at The Hub, smoking and smoking and talking to Michael Pool about collectable Exotica records. Michael Pool used to spin records at New World Brewery. It was there, that I gave him a copy of Blues And The Beat by Henry Mancini. I had a crush on Michael. It was also there, that I drank my first La Fin Du Monde beer.

Watching the sunset from the rooftop of an old industrial building which housed the artists' collective known as 'Titanic Anatomy' was always one of my favorite Tampa activities. A bunch of us would climb out of the window and sit on the slanted rooftop still warm from the heat of the day, and watch as the sky melted into evening with its brilliant stars winking.

And so, though their body of work was small, Pee Shy left a large impression on my life, my Tampa life.

I hope you enjoy "Little Dudes".

The sweet and melancholy accordion intro already tells us, it's just not meant to be. The sweeter and more melancholic clarinet ending tells us 'it wasn't ever meant to be, but the memories, though dim, are cool and sweet and a little melancholy.'

For all of you that shared Tampa with me in the 1990's, don't forget Tampa Theatre, Ybor City, Poetry slams, Heat Wave, WMNF, Titanic Anatomy, USF Contemporary Art Museum, The Hub, Sunshine Thrift Store, Vinyl Fever, Pee Shy and Bayshore Blvd., the longest continuous sidewalk in the world.

Pee Shy - Who Let All The Monkeys Out - 04 Little Dudes.mp3


File under: Accordion Crimes

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dinosaur Jr. - "SludgeFeast" from the CD You're Living All Over Me

File under: LOUDquietLOUD, Hippie Punks

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chris Isaak - "Blue Hotel" From the CD Chris Isaak

Junior just served up Chris Isaak's "Blue Hotel." Isaak's kinda like Comic Sans: everyone loves to play culture snob and bitch about how lowbrow he is, but I love this tune, as long as I get to smile a little bit, maybe do up just a smidgen of the ironic detachment thing.

Seriously love the reverb, the guitar tone echoing madly like the boots of our hero as he walks purposefully across the saloon floor in some desperately passionate spaghetti western. And give the man some credit, he belts this shit out, can’t say he holds anything back in the singing department.

Still, as fun as it is for me, throwing my head back and singing along as I drive, "HOOO-TEEEEEEEE-ELLLLLLL," maybe this is just a tiny bit overwrought?

File under: Roots Rock

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Led Zeppelin - "Achilles Last Stand" from the album Presence

Much in the same way that the lyrics to The Beatles' "Glass Onion" acknowledged with a nod and a reluctant wink the gnostic cult of Paul-is-Dead, the packaging of Led Zeppelin's Presence acknowledged the I'm sure at-least-somewhat-discomfitting fact that their group had long since become the most humongous rock band in the world.

By the time of The White Album, and by the time of Presence, respectively, things had gotten to the point where expedience was no longer expedient. The Beatles had tried not to feed the conspiracy theorists, and Zeppelin--modest at least in this one regard--had stayed away from licensing lunchboxes and appearances on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. But at a certain point, things get so big, and so plain, that they become the elephant in the room.

Presence seems to be Zep's acceptance of their own status (beyond even their own control) as Big Dumb Object, an enormous artifact of unfathomable consequence.

That's dumb as in "incapable of speech," not as in "stupid," just so we're straight. But since wee're there, let me note that Presence perhaps more than any Zeppelin album save II demonstrates that a certain amount of stoopidity is unavoidable or even desired if you're going to play the cock-rock game.

Plant's lyrics to "Achilles" reference some etching or the other of William Blake's, so my point is not to disparage Zeppelin's obvious operational intelligence. Still, Zeppelin were all about contrast: I dare you to check out the live video from '77, and tell me that Plant's suggestive mannerisms as he sings the band's 11-minute epic aren't a little stoopid . . . .

Ah, but I digress, 'cause the key concept here is not "Dumb" but "Big." Think thunder. Think "Hammer of the Gods," if that helps.

After four albums where at least part of the idea had been to leaven the heaviness with keyboards or acoustic instruments, Presence was a return to the undiluted bombast of the second album. Guitar bass drums voice recorded in a mere 18 days--not necessarily simple, but certainly direct.

The instrumental contrasts that for good or ill had been there on III, IV, Houses of the Holy, and Physical Graffiti were absent on the band's seventh album--and maybe that's why it's long been their least popular. Funny thought, that: maybe Zeppelin were so goddamned popular not because of the parts that rocked, but because of the parts that didn't!

I don't want to go overboard, however. I don't want to make it sound as if Presence were a piece of the nascent pub rock of the time, because the very first track belies that. "Achilles" is the third longest studio track for the band and features perhaps Page's most intricate guitar orchestration, with as many as 12 overdubs. It's routinely described as proggy, or even Yes-like (and if you don't believe that, consider that Dream Theater is one of the many acts who have covered the song). And note that Jonesy is playing an eight-string bass.

Leave it to this band of contrasts to feature a 10-1/2 minute song about a Greek demigod with painstakingly multitracked guitars on their back-to-basics record . . . Presence is perhaps Led Zeppelin's most misunderstood album, but for Page Plant Jones & Bonham, that may have been The Object all along.

Led Zeppelin - Presence - 01 - Achilles Last Stand.mp3

File under: Bands that were, like, really into Bullfinch

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Derek & Clive - "Jump" from the album (Live) and
Arctic Monkeys - "Scummy" from the internet download Beneath the Boardwalk

Derke and Clive (Live) album coverArctic Monkeys Beneath the Boardwalk

I like me an Oasis song or two.

I know a thing or two about the Plantagenets, and I'm fond of saying that I think things really WERE better before the dissolution of the monasteries. Plus I once had me one of those Def Leppard Union Jack sleeveless tees.

But who didn't? I'm still not what you would call an Anglophile.

And yet, and yet, there's till something that appeals to this South Floridian about these Arctic Monkey blokes, surely among the most British of acts since, well, ever. I've been running around for quite some time now saying that the nearest historical analog to the Arctic Monkeys were The Faces, but after hearing again in the La Historia playlists this morning the obscene lark that is "Jump," I'm realizing a closer match might well be those two cunts from Derek and Clive.

Not that a bit of tweaking couldn't help our lads from Sheffield further: I think their lyrics should begin featuring the word "what" used as a relative pronoun, starting now.

File under:Postrock revival, it said so on Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lightning Bolt - "Dracula Mountain" from the CD Wonderful Rainbow

Going to see Lightning Bolt at fabulous Churchill's Hideaway tonight.

While it's always good to get out and drink some English beer (maybe I'll even smoke a cigarette or two), I'm not that psyched, I'm finding, somewhat to my own surprise.

Lightning Bolt--a School of Design drum and bass duo who play oddly tuned noise rock at near-deafening volume--are certainly conceptually audacious, and certainly have an innate appeal to me for that very reason. That the bassist has recently taken to playing a five-string bass, or that the band often plays offstage, amongst, and in the midst of, their audience, can only score them additional points with me.

And the Wikpedia article certainly gushes forth.

But at a certain point, you know, you've gotta drop something more than mere audacious concept. Not that I've heard a great deal of Lightning Bolt, but most of what I have heard is kind of inchoate. The song I present for download is quite the jam, I like it very much, the bass and the drums alternating like machine gun fire, or, even better, like Murph and Barlow without the Mascis, yet to this date, it's the only Lightning Bolt song that I've really come to love.*

On the other hand, the band has quite the live reputation, and what the hell, I've been hankering to attend a show, why not tonight?

So we'll see. I was always lukewarm to Oxes until I saw them one night at the Polish American Club; maybe Lightning Bolt will be critically uplifted for me in a similar way.

If I can, I'll come back over the next couple days and post a comment about what the show was like.

Lightning Bolt - Wonderful Rainbow - 03 - Dracula Mountain.mp3

File under: Noise rock

*Although I'd have to guess "St. Jacques" and "Nation of Boar" are pretty good, if not great (Return)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

X - "4th of July" from the CD See How We Are

I wanted to write about the live version of "Pressman" last week: great song and all, noir as fuck is what I was thinking, but nothing coherent ever came to me. Can't post if you can't write.

Don't feel effervescent with ideas tonight, either, but there is Sunday's American holiday, and there is this wonderful track from X, the playing of which on Independence Day having become something of a personal tradition for me.

Thr punk rock that X had become known for is for the most part absent from "4th of July," as is their original guitarist Billy Zoom, who'd left the band after the unrequited sellout that was Ain't Love Grand. In Zoom's place on the song is roots-rock champion Dave Alvin, and it is Alvin, on closer inspection, who wrote the song.

And it's beautiful, too, landscaped with Alvin's gorgeous reverb, and with some of Exene and John's finest harmonies. There is a conflict between the duo's soaring vocal harmonies and Alvin's lyrics--ambivalent in the best light--which tell of a short truce called on a hot night.

You wouldn't think that an accident of the calendar could make much difference to me, to you, to some couple falling out of love, but, maybe, even if only briefly, it does. It's a holiday from crushing reality, reds whites and blues in the sky, and the smell of barbeque and gunpowder, the Fourth of July for 24 delicious hours before we like failed lovers are called back again to the drudgery and the bullshit.

My advice: Enjoy the holiday hours as you have them, and crank the tune we have here at every opportunity. It's worth getting excited about. The Fourth of July only comes once a year, you know.

X - See How We Are - 4th of July.mp3

File under: Roots rock