Monday, March 30, 2009

Mondays with Merzbow pt.1

About three years ago, I was lucky enough to score Merzbow’s ultra-rare 50 disc Merzbox set. The only down side is that they are all CD-R’s, and I am not sure how well they were burned, or what the shelf life of the discs are so am in the process of uploading them all to my hosted Amazon backup. Since I am going to uploading them anyway, I figured I might as well share them with all via this site. Because of the sheer volume of this amount of music, I am going to do one a week (hence “Mondays with Merzbow”).

I will try to include a little more commentary week to week, but for week one just sit back and let the best white noise and experimental mind fucking Japan as to offer wash over you.

Don’t get me wrong, listening to Merzbow can at times be challenging but if you have the stones to stick it out, you will walk away relaxed, refreshed and ready to set the world (if not just your office) on fire.

Yes - Hearts of Sunrise

Even though I have somewhere around 12,000 tracks on my iPod, sometimes I am shocked to find the one perfect song is not on there. I was walking my dog this morning before work, and for some reason I really needed to hear “Hearts of Sunrise” by Yes. After scrolling frantically for a block or two, I realized it just wasn’t there.

Just in case anyone else out there had the same problem this morning, here ya’ go.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ramblings on AI and a new mix

First things first, I gave up my shame about watching American Idol a while back, so even though I am sure to get shit for talking about it, here are my very brief two cents. If I were putting money on who would be the most successful of the crew left this season it is hands down Allison Iraheta. Not really my thing, but she is the closest thing they have had to a Kelly Clarkson since the first season, and Clarkson is arguably the best/most successful winner they have produced. Sure Carrie Underwood is close, but having a hot, skinny blonde chick sell records about Jesus to country music fans is like shooting fish in a barrel. Douche nozzles like Little Big Town and Rascal Flatts have made a career of doing the same thing without the help of Idol, so I don’t consider her that formidable a talent. You could say Chris Daughtry has done alright if you are into music for frat house rape rooms or shopping at Family Dollar, but he didn’t win the show. The rest have all been as bland as dirt sandwiches.

Will Iraheta win? Probably not. I am guessing the largest contingency of voters for that show are teen and pre-teen girls, and I would guess they will throw their support behind bad boy/Nathan Lane impersonator Adam Lambert, and to be honest he probably deserves it. His performance this week of “The Tracks of My Tears” was a nail bending classic; the kind of shit that you should automatically win the show for dropping. Game over. The only time I have come close to being that impressed with an AI performance was when Ruben Studdard turned his sweat glands up to 11 and killed “How Do You Mend a Broken Heart.” Keep in mind, I truly hate this Adam guy, probably my least favorite contestant this season and that is a hard feat to pull off considering that they have had a black chick that sings Motown with all the soul of Josh Groban, an oil rig worker that delivers his karaoke classics with the thumb twiddling fervor of an Amish gang bang and a hot chick that makes me hate my penis for keeping me on the edge of my seat watching her performances.

Long story short; vote for Danny Gokey. I think his wife died or something.

Onto the mix. It has been rainy and grey here for almost a week with the weekend bringing more of the same. This week’s mix reflects that state o’ mind. There is an abundance of tracks from the recently re-released Deluxe Edition of Beth Orton’s Trailer Park. The bonus materials are mostly just her debut EP Best Bit. If you don’t have Best Bit, it is definitely worth picking up if for no other reason, her smoking duets with Terry Callier (one included here), and also her cover of Fred Neil’s “Dolphins” (original included here). Also, I have added a nice opener from the Bethlehem Progressive Ensemble and a great closer from Kings of Convenience. Their track is a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” that demonstrates how much impact a crowd brought up singing soccer anthems can have on a live track. Very good stuff!!!

I have also added a song from the new Chris Cornell disc called “Get Up.” I am not sure if I like this song or if it is a total Audioslave style shit heap. The fact that I have given it about 15 spins and am still on the fence makes me wonder if I might actually like this song. At one time I would have had Cornell in the number three slot as top male metal vocalist (behind number one Bruce Dickinson and number two Rob Halford), but I think recruiting Timbaland to drop beats for you moves him down the list right behind the kids in School of Rock and Kip Winger.

Lastly, check out the Tim Buckley track. Arguably one of my favorite live tracks of all time.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Skinny Bobby Harper March Megamix

Since I was not able to get to a mix last week, and I have the benefit of pain medicine this afternoon, I am going to get this week’s mix posted a little early.

No real specific theme this week, other than I would say most of these tracks are from the mid to late 70’s with a touch of early 80’s thrown in. Just a general hodgepodge of some songs I dug as a kid (hence the KISS tracks) and have ended up floating around on my iPod, plus a handful of AM radio faves. Feel free to put on your WSB 750 “Skinny” Bobby Harper throwback jerseys. Random tidbit, Harper a DJ at WSB 750 in the seventies was the inspiration for Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Anyway, back to the mix. Highlights include: a couple of tracks from Suzi Quatro. When I was in third grade I really loved the song “Stumblin’ In”, but I will always remember her as Leather Tuscadero. Playing Leather on Happy Days ensured that she would never be big in the states, but she was able to put together an impressive run in the UK as a glam artist through out the seventies. Also, a nice track from Geordie, better known as Brian Johnson before he met AC/DC, also included is an interesting boogie track from Elf, featuring Ronnie James Dio before his stings with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio. I have also included a couple tracks from Nick Gilder that are from right after his days in Sweeny Todd but before he had his one hit with “Hot Child in the City”.

Feel free to add comments or questions. I would be curious to hear some feedback on some of these tracks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Against Me! - The Handlebar - 04/19/2009

I haven't been running this blog very long, but for all the shows I have pimped it is hard to believe it has taken me three months to getting around to one at The Handlebar, especially since it is just around the corner from my house.

Not too much I can say here except that I cannot imagine a better deal on a Tuesday night than an $11 dollar show within walking distance in, and crawling distance home.

I have read several great interviews with Tom Gabel, singer/guitarist for Against Me!, and all of them would do a better job talking about their inspirational DIY ethic, and the success they have found while never selling out.

The best I can offer is that if you have ever wondered what it would sound like if you could morph Billy Bragg and Mike Ness into a quasi political, aggro rawker with an acoustic guitar in one hand and a molotov cocktail in the other; this show is for you, so start saving those nickels. Other than that, I will let the music do the talking. Included in this list of originals is a nice Replacements cover, and an interesting choice cover of an Old Crow Medicine Show covering Dylan.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bonnie "Prince" Billy - The Grey Eagle 5/27/09

For the most part, I have seen pretty much everyone live that I want to. Not that there aren’t always going to be new bands I want to see, or old favorites that I want to see again. But for the most part I have been able to check out just about everyone I want minus a list of about 3 or 4. Despite who you talk to, this list doesn't vary often and includes Diamanda Galas (will likely never happen), Leonard Cohen (could still happen one day, but I don’t deserve it because I blew a great opportunity in 1993), New Order (even in the hodgepodge lineup they are currently sporting, they are still one of my all time favorite bands that I have never been able to check out), Van Morrison (I feel pretty good this will happen sooner or later, barring an abrupt death) and Bonnie “Prince” Billy (odds are great, as this is the main reason for this post).

Looks like I will be able to pull out the mental Sharpie and cross one more off that list, as Bonnie “Prince” Billy rolls into The Grey Eagle on May 27th.

From his work with Palace Brothers through his solo career, BPB has emerged over the past decade as one of the great living storytellers/songwriters, and will eventually if not now find a home in the same echelon as Cohen if not Dylan.

I am posting a random variety of some of my favorite BPB songs including mostly originals, a rerecording of one of my favorite Palace Brothers songs, and a few covers including Elton John, Kenny Rogers and an amazing cover of the Dead’s “Brokedown Palace” (which regularly challenges “Sweet Jane” as my favorite song of all time). Plus I am including the video for Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothin’” which features BPB and Zach Galifinakis as the result of what happens when the FFA meets LSD.

Tickets are on sale now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeah's - It's Blitz

At this stage of the game it is pretty safe to assume that the Yeah Yeah Yeah's are never going to release anything that smokes as hot as their debut EP. Fair enough, that five track beauty contains what might be the best straight up fifteen minutes of rock to be released in the double aughts, with time running out for anyone to snatch that honor away.

Each full length since then has skirted a little closer to the mainstream, while still managing to hang on to just enough edge to get rated favorably on Pitchfork (come on, it doesn't get much more Top 40 than the crushing heartbreak of "Maps").

Their latest disc, It's Blitz will probably find the same fate, and wind up as a soundtrack bullpen for teen dramedies for the rest of the spring. However, that unpleasant nugget aside, Blitz is easily one of the best discs so far of 2009. Dave Sitek's production keeps Blitz loaded with enough dance beats to make even the crustiest indie rock fan discard their Silver Jews disc gently on top of a pile of Coors Light cans and get their wiggle on (no this is not describing anyone I know, present company included). Usually when a disc leads off with its best track ("Zero"), that is a sign of shit to come. Blitz is an exception, and keeps things chugging from start to finish.

Definitely worth checking out.

Morrissey - Pffffffarrrrrt!!!

Morrissey at The Orange Peel - Cancelled!!

Not that I was going to get to go, I sold my tickets on Saturday, but still nice job on the last minute cancellation asshat!!

All I can say is that there are going to be some pissed off hairdressers in Asheville tonight.

Morrissey - I'm Not Sorry

Friday, March 6, 2009

Chrissy Zebby Tembo & Ngozi Family - My Ancestors

With the mass influx of Nigerian High Life music over the past couple of years, it is easy to let a handful of releases slip through the cracks here and there. Although most of the releases have been compilations, this gem from Chrissy Zebby Tembo was pressed and released on vinyl in a limited number of copies, 430 to be exact.

I am not sure what kind of mushrooms they grow in Nigeria, but soil soaked from mass bloodshed must make them grow extra psychedelic. This disc has more fuzz on it than that black dude in Hart County that had his eye ripped out.

Here is the full album with all of it’s crackly vinyl goodness, and is it just me or does this guylook like Tracy Morgan?


Friday Mix - The Wayback Machine - Destination 80's

This Friday mix is sort of thrown together and probably not sequenced the best, but at least it is something. This is largely culled from a collection of 80’s music that I have that represents some of my favorite early No Wave songs, some nice 12” singles from the era and some random and semi obscure tracks that I found later. One note, I remember hearing a lot of these songs the first time on the Georgia State University station WRAS 88.5 when I was in middle school. It is easy to remember your first album, your first cd etc., but I distinctly remember when I first stumbled across Album 88 and the Pandora’s box of great music that had been opened.

On a side note, if you have the ability to stream music at work or at home I can recommend no better website than the one for 91.1 WREK, the radio station at Georgia Tech. Granted at night they selection can slant toward more acquired tastes, but during the workday there is no better soundtrack. Starting with morning classical (not your boring, run of the mill NPR fare, but a nice and eclectic selection), then running into a couple hours of jazz followed by a freeform afternoon. Opening their stream is the first thing I do every morning after logging into my work ‘puter. You should definitely check them out.

As far as the mix goes, if there is anything you particularly like, especially on some of the lesser known stuff, and want to hear more, leave me a note.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone

First off, there is not much higher praise I can drop on Neko Case other than the fact I named my bulldog after her. I was sold on Neko the first time I heard her belt a note. Her live shows never disappoint, and her albums have always been very listenable. The problem I have had with most of them is that while they have always provided an excellent showcase for her stellar voice, they have often fallen short in the material department; deficiencies she has greatly improved upon recently particularly on Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.

On her latest, Middle Cyclone, she has finally put together an album that is solid from start to finish. From the opener of “This Tornado Loves You” (easily one of her best tracks to date), through the thirty one minute ambient noise closer “Marais la Nuit” there is not a drop of filler to be found. Her recent collaborations with M. Ward, Kelly Hogan as well as her role in The New Pornographers have only helped distill her massive pipes into something that has the sweet, soulful, burning taste of a bucket of blackberries soaked in Grey Goose, or whatever the Canadian vodka equivalent is.

Now if we could only get her to reprise her role on ATHF or do some more pinup shots

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Butch Walker - The Orange Peel 3/24/09

Of all the music I listen to, I think I probably catch more shit for my love of Butch Walker than anyone else on my favorite’s playlist. Seriously, some of my guilty pleasures (mix coming soon) include Mariah Carey and Sugarland but for some reason BW is the albatross I cannot shake.

So far my biggest defense of BW has been that his live shows are amazing, and I stand by that. By dragging a handful of naysayers I have been able to convince a couple about his live shows, but they still scoff at the man and his music. I will admit that I am not the biggest fan of Butch’s first band to make waves in Atlanta, the metal-lite Floyds Funk Revival, but by the time he reemerged with Marvelous 3 he was starting to fire on all cylinders. Granted the 3 were probably a little ahead of their time, grunge and other fake indie shit rock (hello, Cranberries) of the like were still flooding the airwaves, but the 3’s glammed out simple three chord mockups and soaring choruses were like manna to those of us who grew up loving The Knack, Billy Squier, Sweet and April Wine.

Even after the demise of Marvelous 3, Walker’s work as a solo artist and producer still brought the goods for everyone that loved the sonic crunch of metal, but longed for the pop hooks of Cheap Trick. Maybe I am just a sucker for cheese, or maybe it is because we are from the same place geographically, or maybe it is because we are the same age and were probably influenced by the same bands, but for whatever its worth I think he is the goods (even after his turn on the nightmarish Rock Star: Supernova).

I have included a generous handful of tracks from M3, and some solo work. Also, toward the end I have added a handful of songs Butch produced that all have his signature sound. If there is anyone out there that can make Pink listenable, it has to be this guy.

Butch’s tour to support his latest disc Sycamore Meadows stops by The Orange Peel on 3/24 and tix are $14. As I stated above, his lives shows are awesome, even if you don’t necessarily dig his recorded output.