Saturday, July 30, 2011

La Historia: The Tumblr

So I started a Tumblr blog Friday. I wanted to send a link to my Sonic Youth piece to a dude who I follow on Tumblr, and their system told me I had to register with them if I wished to send a message.

So what the fuck, right? Pictures and snippets will go there, longer pieces will continue to be placed here. So during any future post-lapses, you can always head over there and see if I've posted anything that-away.

Take a look now if you'd like.

I also created a little sidebar section here to hold a link to the Tumblr and Astroland and a few other blogs I visit. It's really long overdue that I link back to TAD and Mr. Crabb. The "Site-Specific" title is a nod to the Earth "song," natch.

That is all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sonic Youth - "Confusion is Next" From the CD Confusion is Sex

Or, Thurston Moore is a Big Fuckin' Dick

Sonic Youth Confusion is Next CD cover
infographic from Spin article on Nirvana 8/11I guess I ought to start visiting Pitchfork again, or start blog-hopping at It seems a little repetitive to always be writing about what Spin has written for the month.

Also: I remember when I was reading Shakey, Jimmy McDonough's excellent biography of Neil Young. And I disappeared inside the thing, became engrossed. I was reading about when Young came to LA, and had formed the Buffalo Springfield with Stills and Furay and all the rest of them. And evidently there was a perceived rivalry--at least from the Springfield's point-of-view--between the Buffalo Springfield and The Byrds. I became so wrapped up in this that I started telling Cerveza whenever I had been given half a chance about how much better Buffalo Springfield had been than The Byrds.

And Cerveza was like, why are you telling me this? Why should I care, why does it matter, when this little city of the angels folk-rock turf war you detail took place almost 40 years ago?

That's why I've always tried to keep things positive around here, because while the good stuff is always relevant, nothing seems more pointless than bitching about things which ended up getting resolved decades ago.

But, maybe, some things haven't gotten resolved, and remain a viable target.

Buy Nevermind Buy Nevermind Buy Nevermind Buy Nevermind Do it Now Do it Now Do it Now Do it NowSpin's latest issue is a 20th anniversary shindig for Nevermind, and while I've already told my Nevermind story, these are worth reading, too, an oral history sort of thing, a few more ambitious analyses, and a couple infographics.

It's one of the infographics that got me going, hope you dug my scan as you were passing it by. If not, go back, and note what's circled in the graphic with the aqua. I bet you're not surprised that I can wait here while you do.

Did you have this T-shirt?You see them over and over again, these references to Sonic Youth's assumed integrity, and you get tired of it, this fault--not a feature--in the critical landscape that we see when we look around us.

So it is understood let me say it plainly: Sonic Youth were a great band for nearly ten years, and have been at the least relevant for three times as long. They were my favorite band for five years, and not just for five years, bur for the coolest five years of my life. I listen to them plenty even now. This is not a "Sonic Youth sucks" post, or even a "Sonic Youth is overrated" one. I love 85% of this band's music, including the 29-year old, but still truly mind-wrenching tune I have selected for download today.

But it seems to me that if you are as a guitarist or as a bassist or as a person intent on taking the path to paragon of integrity, a good place to start is by not being a fucking asshole.

Quite frankly, no-one is as cool as Thurston Moore thinks he is. For 25 years, Moore--and his wife, too, really--have run around living their lives and making artistic decisions for their band based on the proposition that the coolness of anything they touched would accrue unto them.

When I saw that they'd covered "Beat on the Brat" for Master-Dik, I thought it was pretty cool, and neither "I Wanna Be Your Dog" from Confusion nor "Bubblegum" from the "Starpower" single set off the red flag.

Cover of Sonic Youth 'Personality Crisi' 45But whether it was their cover of "Personality Crisis" or of "Ça Plane Pour Moi" or of "Moist Vagina" or even of "Victoria" that in the end tipped me off, at some point it struck me like a 165 gram frisbee upside the noodle that SY were trying one by one to get the entire fucking canon in.

As if when they covered the New York Dolls, they got to keep any of the Dolls' leftover coolness that the surviving members weren't using, as if there were a kewlness account somewhere they could squirrel it all away to and withdraw from when their ego needed.

Enough to make you feel a certain fondness for Dinosaur Jr, for their cover of "Show Me The Way," it never bothered J Mascis at all; he never thought covering Peter Frampton might make his band less cool.

And good for him in his security. As for SY: Why does a band whose own work is so respected feel so insecure?

OK, two more stories, let me hammer this thing home.

A couple years back, I spent some time talking about "I'm Not A Young Man Anymore", this long-lost Velvet Underground song that surfaced in early 2008. I made a very big deal about it, because it was a very big deal, a never-previously heard live track of outstanding quality from a seminal band.

Velvet Underground Gymnasium album coverLooking now in Wikipedia, I see that in 2008, Rage Against the Machine and My Bloody Valentine played shows for the first time since their respective heydays, and I see that Paul McCartney played Israel for the first time since 1965. Bo Diddley and Rick Wright died, while M83, Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend and Deerhunter released breakthrough albums. But I'd still say that the recovery of "I'm Not a Young Man. . . ." was the musical story of the year.

And I guess that Thurston got jealous of all the attention that Lou and John and Sterling and Mo were getting, 'cause when Moore made his appearance at South By Southwest in March of '08, he announced that he would play the song. There's no other way to look at it: Moore was trying to divert some of the attention that had been directed to the song onto himself. I hate him for this. The only people who had any right to play that fucking song at SXSW were the ones who played it at the fucking Gymnasium, and Thurston trying to steal the limelight for himself is most definitely not the action of a "paragon of integrity."

And then there was the time I read that Moore and Gordon had 1) named their dog "Merzbow" after the obscure Japanese noise project 2) made recordings of their dog barking 3) sent those recordings to the actual Japanese noise artist.

Merzbow, or at least the dude who calls his music thatChrist. Naming your fucking dog "Merzbow" is, now that I think about it, very much the same as covering an obscure academic curiosity like Steve Reich's "Pendulum Music" (which, guess what? SY have also done). Such a pointless act can only come from a conviction that coolness can be swept into some kind of continually-growing ashpile, and he who has the biggest pile wins, and also that obscurity a priori = cool.

Arrgh. It makes me want to kill yr idols. I'm gonna skip the way SY mercilessly dissed the Jesus and Mary Chain on an EP only some few years after worshipfully name-dropping them in the liner notes to EVOL, and I'll skip the whole ironic we-love-Madonna thing, which I can look back at, and hate.

But hopefully you get my point despite my incompleteness. Though they may be supernally innovative artists, with a catalog of revolutionary works, Sonic Youth are not paragons of integrity as is so popularly (and so tiresomely) supposed. They're more like total dicks who have their priorities all bass-ackwards.

I've never felt the need to admire the artists who make the music I like, but still, it sure is confusing.

File under: Pigfuck, Postpunk

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids - "Misery Machine" from the Live As Hell Demo Tape

Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids Live as Hell Demo TapeRead something interesting if not necessarily immediately arresting to me last week at Boing Boing. Said that the current laws regarding sampling are so screwed up, it would cost The Beastie Boys 22-1/2 million dollars to clear the rights for Paul's Boutique, should they try to record and release their odd psychedelic classic in the here and now.

And you know, okay, point made, but let's face it: no-one--least of all The Beastie Boys--is trying to make Paul's Boutique these days. If someone was, I might be listening to that somebody's rap, but there isn't, and I'm not.

So my immediate response to the little anti-copyright treatise on the big anti-copyright website is, call me when it affects an artist I give a shit about . . . .

But guess what: even though my hip don't hop, and even though I haven't been a Marilyn Manson fan in twenty years, I was reminded today that, even for cool rock dudes with their heads in the sand, it's not too terribly hard to come up with an example of a song that had been pretty much disemboweled by copyright restrictions.

Once it bumps you on the iPod, I mean.

* * * * * * * * *

Misfits Die Die My Darling 45 CoverDanzig Who Killed Marilyn 45 Cover
I've always said that Glenn Danzig was cooler back when his songs referenced pulp novels and comic books, and I can speak from experience when I say the same thing about Marilyn Manson.

Like Danzig, the erstwhile Brian Warner had a fascination with junk-culture ephemera that receded once he decided that some more gullible fans might buy into the Antichrist bit.

Though I wasn't at the show Tim told me about, where Warner, I mean Manson, took a stagedive into a crowd that made a collective and concerted effort NOT to catch him, I did attend at least two and maybe more Manson shows in South Florida, back before he jettisoned his Kids, back before he signed on the dotted line for Trent Reznor.

The Mystery MachineThey were good shows as I remember, Marilyn and his Kids circa 1990 the hardest working band on the South Florida dive bar circuit, no Antichrist schtick developed yet, but plenty of dummies and mannequins on stage, Manson rocking his Perry Farrell look but the Spooky Kids usually in drag, always high energy, always a kaleidoscopic light show projected onto the venue's walls, full of Rocky Horror-style high camp, images of Lost in Space lunchboxes, of the Cat in the Hat, and of Scooby Doo.

Bringing us back to "Misery Machine," which in the version I present for you here, features not only a four-second clip of Those Meddling Kids to introduce things, but also a splice of James Brown his ownself, telling us in a bit stolen from "King Heroin" how riding in the Machine would ride you to hell . . . .

It seems a little hard to believe now that Trent's people couldn't clear the James Brown stuff, considering rappers had been ripping the Godfather off for a good fifteen years when this stuff was first looked at. But they couldn't get it cleared, and they couldn't clear the Mystery, Inc. stuff with Hanna-Barbera, either, though that's probably less of a surprise.

Marilyn Manson Portrait of an American Family CD coverSo the version that ended up getting released on the Manson debut album was missing its best parts. I guess the "blood is pavement" line still works, and so does the "I am fueled by fuel and fury," they're mighty powerful in fact, in either version, especially at loud volume. But all of the cool subtext is fucking gone in the version of the song that most people know. And that's all kinds of fucked up.

Manson/Warner could have used a bassplayer who belongs to Polydor, and Polydor would have gotten it done on their courtesy. But he couldn't use a five-second sample that live DJ's have been using since time immemorial.

Which I guess is what they were talking about in the Boing Boing article; I just had to find the right way of looking at it to appreciate it. Marilyn Manson in my opinion kind of took an unfortunate path with his career after he broke out of South Florida. He got rid of the cool stuff and kept the stupid. That's his fault.

But the fact that his latter-day fans haven't heard the ace version of his best song, that, my sampling and MCing and DJing friends, that appears to be the fault of some silly and obsolete industry dogma.

Marilyn Manson And The Spooky Kids - Misery Machine.mp3

160 kbps mp3, up for six weeks (right click and save as target)

File under: Spooky Snacks

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Washington Squares - "Fourth Day of July" From the CD Fair and Square

How about we do it Tumblr-style (sorta) today?

Washington Squares - Fair and Square - 01 Fourth Day of July.mp3

File under: Neo-beatnik Neo-folk

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Psychedelic Furs - "Dumb Waiters" from the CD Talk Talk Talk

Psychedelic Furs Talk Talk Talk CD cover
So the U2 360° tour passed through town Wednesday. I was not at Sun Life Stadium for the event, nor had I wished to be.

I have instead put my measly weekly discretionary income aside for The Psychedelic Furs, who are playing The Culture Room tonight.

If I were looking for the authentic concert experience, and why wouldn't I be, then it probably should have been the U2 show I steered myself toward. After all, U2 released a new album of original material as recently as two years ago, and they are touring of course with a lineup composed entirely of original members.

Taking a quick look at the Psych Furs' Wikipedia page and at the band's own site, I see that the last time the Furs released a new album of original material, it was 1991, and that only two out of six in the current touring lineup were onhand 31 years ago for the debut elpee.

Consider that tickets to the U2 show could have been had for as little as thirty bucks, and that The Culture Room is asking 25 tonight, and I appear to have allocated my time and my money somewhat rashly.

The question, then, almost assaults you in its eagerness to be formed: Why would I wanna go see some nostalgia band when for almost the same dough I could have gone to see something that is continuing to evolve?

Well, the smartass answer to that question is simply that I don't like what U2 is evolving into.

Seriously, I liked the Irish blokes in the '80's, when Bono 'n' The Edge 'n' Adam Clayton 'n' Larry Mullen basically copyrighted the angular postpunk pop anthem. But their music in the nineties and in the aughts moved away from that sound, into some kind of nethergroove I don't get, and I chose--rightly I think--not to follow.

And if The Psychedelic Furs have stopped evolving because they've stopped producing original music, maybe the most important upshot of that is that they stopped growing at a place where I still liked them.

The Furs' site says that their current set of dates is the "Talk Talk Talk 30th Anniversary Tour," and though I don't know if any Furs album is the complete masterpiece that would truly deserve such honorifics, I still think the fact that they'll be playing their second album in order tonight, in its entirety, is pretty cool.

Even if John Ashton and Vince Ely and Duncan Kilburn won't be some of the ones playing it.

* * * * * * * *

I see, as they are fond of saying on the internet, what I did there. After spending two days writing condescendingly about the nostalgia process and the way it replaces critical listening, I lay down some bullshit that suggests nostalgia's OK when I choose to invoke it.

Guilty, I suppose.

Psychedelic Furs Midnight to Midnight CD CoverThis won't be the first time I've seen The Psychedelic Furs, as it happens. I think it was 1987 and the band was touring off Midnight to Midnight. If that album wasn't the band's artistic height, it was certainly the height of their success, and its promo tour came to the fancy-ass James L Knight Center at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Miami.

I remember that the newest AOR station in town at the time, WGTR, was sponsoring the thing, their personnel as they raised the banners and introduced the show blithely ignoring the sad fact that the station featured none of The Furs' music in their daily playlists. The station had brought along their two-and-a-half storey inflatable guitar-playing monkey, and had tried to raise it outside the hall, but it, fittingly and pathetically both, was in a sad state, non compos erectus, I guess you could say.

Maybe it was because of the ringtail radio station or that monkey or the sad truth that once I got inside, I was completely sober. But despite the fact that the show was well-played, and well-engineered, with no glaring mistakes of performance or of sound, I left the show a little bit annoyed.

I think it was mostly the lighting. The band had a huge glitzy sign that swung forward at louder moments, practically illuminating the entire hall in faceted diamond light, and the whole thing looked and felt so Hollywood and so mechanical to me. It sure as fuck didn't feel like the Psychedelic Furs, who had always seemed much darker, much smokier, much more noir than all that gaudy rockstar bullshit.

I think Richard Butler will tell you now that Midnight to Midnight was the closest his band came to a sellout album, and would agree if you told him the album was his band's most blatant attempt to enter the mainstream. And I guess I just found some measure of offense in the way that the lighting and the stage show were so blatantly mainstream, as well. I was, like, I'm not sure who told these guys they were stars, but . . . .

Anyway, the Culture Room, while having made some improvements over the past few years, is still a hot and sweaty dive and a major fire trap, to boot. Maybe a better name for the band I'll be seeing tonight would be "The Butler Brothers Plus a Few Guys Who Played On Midnight to Midnight." But let's not quibble. If I can be pardoned for reaching back into my past, three quarters of the reason I'm taking the plunge this eve is that I'm hoping maybe tonight I'll see the Psychedelic Furs as they should be seen.

File Under: Concerts That Rastro Went To