Ground control to Major Lance

I keep meaning to start blogging about the home improvement I'm doing, but it's funny how working on the house so much has left me without much energy to actually do any blogging. Sad, really.

But something that's never sad is finding a great 45 for 50 cents -- such as the Major Lance (a great Chicago soul singer, who's biggest hits were penned by Curtis Mayfield) single I picked up the other day from a bargain bin.

"Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um" by Major Lance


Rhyming words

It's been damn near forever since I've posted anything, mainly because I've suddenly become a homeowner. One of these days, I'll actually get around to blogging about the progress of the renovations, but every time I have a moment to write I become acutely aware that I could be using that time to patch/sand/prime/paint/tear out/put in/restore/remove something in the house. Is there a variant of that old chestnut "If there's time to lean, there's time to clean" -- so often heard at shitty jobs coming from the mouths of shitty bosses -- that could apply to my situation? "If there's time to blog, there's time to..." The rhyming words that immediately come to mind don't seem to fit.

Oh well.

Above is a photo from (surprise) the 4th of July (hence the fireworks) -- one of the first days I allowed myself a break from working on the house.


Reissued: Galaxie 500

It's always interesting to muse about the various artists without whom it seems almost impossible to imagine the alternate course music would have taken. Certainly, a large portion of my record collection would not exist without the influence of the Velvet Underground. Certainly, a large percentage of current indie rock is derived, if not directly from the Velvets, from the large crop of late-80's/early-90's bands who were themselves disciples. There's an old adage -- I'm totally blanking on who said it originally, and a cursory search was no help -- that goes:
Not many people heard the Velvet Underground... but every one who did started a band.
One of those bands was Galaxie 500, who in turn could have a similar statement said of them. Which brings me to the actual news. While their album This Is Our Music has been oft reissued and is readily available on vinyl, the same cannot be said of the rest of their catalog. However, on July 28th, we shall see new vinyl reissues of both On Fire and Today. I can't wait. Maybe on July 29th, I'll start a new band.

(I realize that it's perhaps a bit odd to talk of the vast influence of Galaxie 500 and the Velvet Underground on the day that Michael Jackson died -- especially when, even combined, their total album sales are probably around 100 times lower than Jackson's.)



I have been a long-time fan of the A.V. Club's take on pop-culture. While parent publication, The Onion, gets regularly compiled in book form, there has only been one A.V. Club book thus far -- the [quite good, by the way] interview collection Tenacity Of The Cockroach, which was published in 2002. The A.V. Club is finally putting out a second book this October, this time a collection of writings their "Inventory" feature -- which one could probably deduce from the title:

Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists

It's the type of thing I enjoy way more [perhaps] than I should.

On a related note, I'm curious to check out A.V. Club head writer Nathan Rabin's new memoir (a genre I tend to approach cautiously) which is due out soon:

The Big Rewind: A Memoir Brought To You By Pop-Culture

From the advertising copy:
Rabin writes movingly about how pop culture helped save him from suicidal despair, institutionalization, and parental abandonment -- throughout a childhood that sent him ricocheting from a mental hospital to a foster home to a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents.
I have a soft spot for the "saved by pop-culture" idea. Always have. Probably always will. I might have more to say on the subject at some point, but my laptop is doing the overheating thing again (which is fun, because it starts making sounds like Chewbacca fucking a Roomba) so, I'm just going to cut this short for now.


Looking forward to forgetting

A few nights ago I was watching The Daily Show and during a commercial break I caught a very familiar piano melody -- the one that opens Matt & Kim's "Daylight."* Bacardi is using the track in their recent ad campaign which (as far as I can tell from cursory searching) began airing sometime early last month:

Oh, and just so we're clear up front about this: I have no intention of tossing around any accusations of "selling out" (ah, that old and overused idiotic term) or other similarly adolescent nonsense. No one likes the guy in the room who says things like "Oh, I used to like that band, but now they're a bunch of sellouts."

That said, I'm still fairly amused by the late comedian Bill Hicks' take on the subject**:
If you do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll-call forever... There's a price on your head. Every word you say is suspect... And that goes for everybody, except Willie Nelson... I just try to avert my eyes whenever he's singing about tacos.
Thanks to YouTube, said commercial -- which, years ago, Willie Nelson did to help pay off his gigantic IRS debt -- is preserved for all to see:

In a strange way, it's better (from my perspective as listener and fan) if an artist performs some new jingle for a commercial, thus at least preventing their catalog of songs I actively listen to from conjuring up the brand in question. It does bum me out a little bit that when I hear Matt & Kim's "Daylight", my brain will continue to bring up the association with Bacardi. Which, of course, is certainly among the goals for the advertising campaign, and why Bacardi is willing to pay to use the song. If you know anything about just how little musicians tend to get paid, it's also easy to understand why artists say yes.

The nice thing is that, in time, Bacardi will move onto the next ad campaign, and perhaps I'll eventually forget all about it. That's my hope, at any rate. We shall see. It doesn't work all the time. I certainly haven't forgotten about Of Montreal allowing their song "Wraith Pined to the Mist" to have the lyrics completely repurposed to suit the needs of Outback Steakhouse:

While searching for that commercial, I also discovered that Of Montreal also did a commercial for T-Mobile, in which they also star:

I was also surprised recently when one of the most recognizable songs in The Sea And Cake catalog, "Jacking The Ball", recently found its way into a CitiBank commercial:

It's of no use to complain about it, in part because I'd likely have a difficult time turning down cash for music I'd written were someone to offer, unless it were for something absurdly (or unrealistically) horrible -- as in, "No, sir, you may not use that song in your new advertisement for cholera." Also, complaining would be pretty darn futile.

I do, though, look forward to the point in the future when I've put these ads -- and the numerous others featuring music I care about -- out of mind.

* It's a damn catchy song. On a recent trip to Chicago, there were multiple occasions when, while walking down the street, I would spontaneously begin humming the piano line out loud. Tangentially, I refused to pick up the LP while I was there, because I've always had a hard time accepting that I liked Matt & Kim, in part (as I explained to my friend Jon, in the record store where he had pointed out that the album, Grand, was in stock) because Matt & Kim were sort of similar to Mates Of State, and I had spent nearly 10 years hating Mates Of State, and it felt like enjoying Matt & Kim was to admit that I had been wrong all these years about Mates Of State. I have since both bought Grand and relistened to some of the Mates Of State catalog -- I remain unconvinced overall, but will admit now that they have their moments.
** The bit is, primarily, a brutal skewing of Jay Leno, in no small part because of Leno hocking Doritos. In case you've never heard it, the version from
Rant In E-Minor appears below:


Reissued: Wilco

Many thanks to my buddy Seth for bringing this to my attention, because I had totally missed the news on this one. So, apparently, back in February, it was announced that Wilco would be doing some vinyl reissues in time for Record Store Day. Of course, said holiday has come and gone and they didn't show up. While delayed, we shall be seeing Being There (yay), Summerteeth (super yay) and A.M. (eh) in 180-gram 2xLP editions on June 2nd. I (and many others) have said this a bunch, but goddamn, what a good year for vinyl this is.

[UPDATE: The release date has been changed to July 28th.]


Reissued: Braid

I've been enjoying the Japandroids record a fair amount, but every time I listen to it, I can't help but think "Man, this totally reminds me of Braid." To clarify, that's meant to be complimentary. Much of my current taste in music can be traced back to the point, right as the 90's were drawing to a close, where I (having been introduced to much of it by my roommate at the time, Marc) was obsessing over stuff like Braid, Mineral, Jawbox, Knapsack, etc. Seems like forever ago -- back when you could pick up almost any random album that came out of Jade Tree and the odds were reasonably high that it'd be pretty cool.

I'm feeling old.

Last year, Polyvinyl reissued what is argueably Braid's best record, Frame and Canvas. That's not to put down the rest of their discography, nearly all of which Polyvinyl will be putting back in print fairly soon. Though they haven't set a date more specific than "summer" yet, we'll get new vinyl copies of Frankie Welfare Boy Age 5, The Age of Octeen, Movie Music Vol. 1 & Vol. 2, and the I'm Afraid of Everything 7-inch. Let's hope they go a similar route as they have with the Mates Of State and Ida reissues and offer a special package deal.

I just wish that DeSoto had the resources to do a big vinyl reissue campaign. Wouldn't it be great to see Dismemberment Plan, Burning Airlines and Shiner back on wax?

Where's the other foot?

Many people, when they begin learning to play guitar, spend a lot of time learning other people's songs. For the most part, I hated doing that. I was way more interested in just noodling around on my own. Every once in awhile, I'd attempt to learn a cover. Getting tabs and chord charts online was probably the first thing the internet actually proved useful for (well, okay, the second...), though back in the lowly days of, oh '96 or so, there were no guarantees that anyone had gotten around to figuring the song you wanted tabs for. Anyhow, one of the few songs I bothered to learn was "Asshole" from Beck's lo-fi folk record One Foot In The Grave.

To this day, One Foot In The Grave is still probably my favorite Beck album. Even back in high school, as much as I loved the genre-blending slacker-cool of Mellow Gold and Odelay, I remember being shocked and amazed when I finally heard One Foot -- "Wow, I didn't realize he made stuff like this!"

I was really excited when it was announced a couple months ago that not only was One Foot In The Grave getting reissued, but that there was going to be enough extra new material (not just alternate takes) to nearly double the track listing. Then I got sad, because it appeared it was going to be CD only. But today I am happy, because it will in fact be appearing as a double LP about a week from now -- and (thank god) it'll be a quarter of the price of the obnoxiously expensive (as a result of being perhaps over-packaged) Odelay reissue.

Maybe I'll have to dig out the acoustic tonight.

"Asshole" by Beck



I've been listening to Metric's new album, Fantasies, fairly obsessively lately... wait, sorry... let me back up a bit.

So, in 2006 Emily Haines released her solo record, Knives Don't Have Your Back, which was one of my favorite records of the year, and [hands down] my favorite album title of the year. I can't remember exactly what prompted me to pick Knives up. (I think at that point I was only vaguely aware of Metric, and I was only just beginning to get into Broken Social Scene -- a band I had avoided listening to for so long simply because they seemed to get so much damn press. And yes, I'm aware that such a reaction is fairly petty, and in this particular case a disservice to myself.) No matter the catalyst, I'm thankful I found it, as it was a record that truly resonated right with me. So beautiful and sparse and melancholy. God, her voice. There's something about Emily Haines' voice that absolutely slays me.

Thus began my little crush on Emily Haines.*

I'm really not prone to developing celebrity crushes. It very rarely happens to me. Sure, most everyone has their list (hopefully only a mental one) of movie and/or rock stars they'd love to spend a night in bed with, but that's really just one aspect of attraction. Crushes are such a different beast -- there's this [psuedo-] emotional component in addition to the aesthetic (read: carnal) attraction. Sure, there's the desire for the night in bed, but first you want to do John Cusack-ian things together like falling in love while learning to ski the K-12 and rebuilding a '67 Camaro. I think it's often about a (clearly falsely) perceived emotional connection -- something about their tone, their style that resonates. It's not too difficult a thing to swat down, because it is so obviously a one-sided thing and not an actual connection, merely the observation and recognition of personally desirable qualities.

Fast-forwarding a bit: I've been listening to Metric's new album fairly obsessively lately -- it's such a wonderful piece of smart pop music. Being back on an Emily Haines kick, I decided to put Knives on the stereo while on my drive home last night. In the song "Crowd Surf Off a Cliff" she sings the lines "I'd rather give the world away / than wake up lonely," which, especially due to the tone she sings this with, always gets me -- in one of those "God, I know that feeling" sorts of ways. I had just enjoyed a very fun and awesome evening, but while listening to this song, I couldn't help but think about a conversation that was had, which basically revolved around myself and two of my friends being in fairly similar positions -- namely, that the three of us were dealing with feeling weirdly and deeply fucked up by relationships that were long over and that we had no desire to revisit. Speaking only for myself, it's a strange thing, feeling so over a person in every way, but unable to change the fact that I am a vastly different person as a result of my experiences; that I have built walls (as the old-as-dirt adage goes) and that there are ways in which I isolate myself long past what seems necessary. Despite the wonderful evening, I couldn't help but take that song in, and briefly reminisce about feelings of loneliness -- thinking about the frustration of waking up alone, and also just-as-bad/sometimes-worse feeling of waking up lonely despite company. With that on my mind, I sent out the following message via Twitter**:
Emily Haines, stop breaking my heart.

An hour or two later, I received an email:
Metric is now following you on Twitter!

I found myself feeling oddly embarrassed about what I had written -- despite the awareness that I had been added by a publicist through automated means, combing search terms, with the desire that I will, in return, add Metric to my own Twitter feed, thus allowing a direct pipeline to me (the likely fan) for promotional information. I'm more than aware (and actually quite glad) that no one in Metric is following my life on their cell phone. ("Ben's trying to decide if he should get out of bed to get the Lester Bangs biography from his car." "The Jim DeRogatis one? That was pretty decent." "Oh, shit.... he's totally got a thing for you, Emily!" "Jim DeRogatis does?" "No, that guy Ben we started following on Twitter tonight." "Ha ha.")

This is tangential (and perhaps should have just been a footnote), but: I've never quite understood why there are such heated discussions and strong opinions in regards to Twitter -- I feel that both the "It's the most amazingest thing that ever was or will be"-camp and the "It's destroying the very fabric of the universe with it's banality"-camp are equally insane and expending way more energy than necessary on something that is fairly harmless and innocuous. (Interestingly, this exact same debate seems to happen over Chuck Klosterman, and I retain basically the same stance.)

Alright, so... Irrationally embarrassed, I thought back to something I had written in a recent email exchange regarding the new Metric album with a friend, and I felt strangely (and sillily) glad that it wasn't something that I had said publicly (ah, irony) on Twitter:
One day Emily Haines will marry me, and life will be perfect.
I think for many music-obsessed people, there is a lot of casual hyperbole and hero worship. It's not intentional. It just happens. It's all part of that odd one-sided feeling of connection that some song or album evokes in us. Friends and fans connect to one another through having like-minded idolatry; a similar connection stirred even while listening on headphones and stereos separated by a thousand miles distance.

At this point in my life, so many of my friends are are flung fairly far and wide across this country and beyond. I find myself quite thankful for the explosive growth and widespread adoption of social networking tools and the variety of ways in which they can provide some semblance of connection to the day-to-day realities of far-away friends. I'm aware that things like Facebook and Myspace are, at their core, merely platforms for generating advertising revenue. (Which is fine, as the developers to code these new communication tools and the electricity needed to power the arrays of servers on which these tools run aren't, obviously, free.) With a quickly expanding user-base, in no small part due to the [absurd] amount of media coverage, of course a wide variety of commercial interests have begun to investigate ways to use Twitter. That's not inherently bad, per se (just as it certainly isn't inherently good either). I can't help but think about the language and terminology of social networking. On Facebook or Myspace, we might have plenty of people on our Friends List who are not, in reality, our friends. Twitter's use of the word "follower" is interesting as it is, in my mind at least, such a loaded term. It'd be foolish to take these terms too literally of course. I guess I just find it fascinating that with all our new communication tools, it can be so easy to break past the metaphors and feel a real sense of disconnect.

Of course, disconnecting from something that is illusory isn't such a bad thing. In the practical reality of my life, I'm not affected much by the awareness that Emily Haines is not actually following the mundane details of my life on Twitter (again, I'm relieved, in fact), just as there aren't any pangs of heartbreak with the knowledge that the odds of us marrying are effectively zero. I would, however, love to learn the ship date for the vinyl copies of Fantasies.

(Photo above by Wendy Lynch for Under The Radar.)

*Interestingly, spell check suggests that Haines is not a word, and offers to replace it with Highness.
**I have a hard time bringing myself to use "tweet" as a verb.



Matador reissues

I've been really impressed with Matador's steady stream of vinyl reissues over the last few years (such as the beautiful Mission Of Burma editions released last year) and 2009 is looking to be really wonderful as well. I think it's somewhat strange though that they're being sort of low-key and quiet about it. It's like Matador is taking cues from my grandmother: "Oh, I don't want to make a big fuss about it..."

There was, interestingly, a big splash of news when they decided to release the deluxe CD version of Pavement's Brighten the Corners. However, the vinyl reissues of Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain that came out this year seemed (to me) to be pretty under the radar. Perhaps this is actually just a good sales tactic: you walk into a record store, flip through new arrivals bin, then exclaim "Holy shit! When in the fuck did they reissue this? I must buy it right because what if... yes, what if... this is in fact actually a hidden warehouse gem that only this very store that I happen to be standing in right now was lucky enough to get... I mean I'm sure it's not, but god, what if it is...?"*

[UPDATE: So, I've been under the impression that the Brighten the Corners reissue was CD-only, mainly because every other Pavement deluxe reissue has been CD-only, and because, you know, it was announced as being CD-only. However, while dicking around on Insound's site, I come across the listing to pre-order the 4xLP box set of said record -- which would be great, were it not for the $80 price tag... kind of like how it would have been kind of fun to pick up the deluxe vinyl version of Beck's Odelay that came out late last year, except that $100 isn't a fun price to pay. By the way, many thanks to Sonic Youth for getting their 4xLP boxsets down to $35-40, seeing as fucking Beck and Pavement can't get close to that price point...]

I suppose some of it has to do with Matador being pretty good about trying to keep (at least the hot sellers) in print on vinyl -- one barely notices when Cat Power records get repressed, because it happens so regularly that you don't have time to notice that they were ever even out of print. However, there are a number of things that haven't been on vinyl in quite some time that are getting reissued, much to my excitement.

The vinyl reissue of Guided By Voices' Alien Lanes has just hit stores, and Yo La Tengo's I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One and Electr-o-pura on on their way very soon. These were titles I had thought were about due for it, but I hadn't heard the news at all. I suppose this is because I don't keep up with Matador's bulletin board -- primarily because, well, I had kind of forgotten that bulletin boards still existed.** Had I actually been following this forum, I would have also learned that the following things are also on their way: The New Pornographers' Twin Cinema, Yo La Tengo's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (thank you, thank you, thank you!) and Painful, Mogwai's Happy Songs for Happy People (Question one: do we really need this before you get around to Come On Die Young? Question two: Is there any way to convince Mogwai to change the artwork so it no longer looks like a reggae Christmas record?), and Pavement's Wowee Zowee.

Well, Matador's definitely getting a decent chunk of change from me this year (though, I do keep holding off on grabbing Dear Catastrophe Waitress because I want it to not be $27). At least reissues keep me from spending crazy money on eBay.

On only a vaguely related note, I have to admit that I think that the Matador record bag (manufactured by Dickies) is kind of cute, and exactly the sort of thing that someone else should decide to spend the $40 on, as a gift for me.

* This is the kind of thing that seriously goes through my mind at times.
** So very gauche!


It's a shame about Dave and Ray

If I were Dave Davies (and, just to clarify, I'm not) I would certainly be tired of being popularly known as the less important Davies brother. I would also likely be sick of said concept being always mentioned when being written about, even by those who are trying to be positive. Always in the shadow of his older brother, Ray... blah blah blah.

Anyhow, while digging yesterday, I found a copy of Dave Davies' first solo album, titled after the album's own catalog number: AFL1-3606. On his website, Davies writes:
Throughout the 70's I made various attempts at making a solo album. I always wrote songs at home and recorded them in demo form, but whenever I went into a full blown studio situation ... It just never worked some reason. Working with session musicians I found difficult as it was hard to communicate my ideas generally... So I decided in the end to play all of the instruments myself like I would on a home demo. This felt so much better as I could kind of gently let the songs out of myself this way. I finished the album with the help of a great engineer John Rollo and finally I had an album I was happy with! 'In You I Believe' is still one of my favorite tracks from that period. I felt exhilarated. It was a great experience.
Beyond the music itself, I'm writing about this album because, as a designer, I'm absolutely floored by the album artwork -- especially considering the album was released midway through 1980. I mean, most of the artwork on 80's Kinks albums was fairly horrible, particularly in retrospect. To me, the art on AFL1-3606 feels pretty damn ahead of it's time, by anywhere between 15-25 years (which I arrive at by going "Could this have been a mid-to-late 90's Massive Attack 12-inch cover? Yes", and "Could this have been the cover of a MSTRKRFT or Holy Fuck 12-inch from last year? Also yes.")

Anyhow, mainly this post exists because I feel a need to display that artwork. It really is quite wonderful.

Oh, and as for older brother Ray's solo album covers...? Pretty boring, if you ask me.


Sign of the times

Gee, thanks. I feel so much safer.

This sign is posted outside of a 7-11 that I go to with some regularity. Somehow, I had not noticed the sign until this morning. It's the eyes that really get me. The graphic designers involved in making this clearly decided to go for the classic dystopian future look.

If anyone has finds other images in this vein, please send 'em this way. I'd like to put together a whole gallery.


Why you gotta be like that, Hollywood?

This morning I saw that a friend had posted the following story to Facebook: Michael Bay Signs $50M Deal To Fuck Up Thundercats. For a brief moment, I didn't see that the link was to an article in the Onion rather than a Hollywood news blog. It's just the sort of thing that seems so plausible. Relieved that it wasn't real, I went about my afternoon internet surfing. I then found an actual headline which was much worse: Zac Efron Confirmed for Jonny Quest.


I know that just because Jonny Quest is being turned into a big-budget, live-action film, it doesn't mean that the original cartoon that I love is ruined. Still, I can't help my gut reaction to this news, which is to be upset, annoyed, and... well, actually a little confused, now that I think about it. Is Jonny Quest that well known, even? I sort of understand the logic of trying to make a buck off of a live-action Scooby-Doo. (To clarify, I don't condone it, but I do get it.) It was certainly the more well known Hanna-Barbera property, and it was a definitely a huge staple of the average Gen-Xer's cartoon diet. By contrast, Jonny Quest, which originally aired from '64 to '65, was the one you had to dig at least a little bit to find out about. I guess I don't have much frame of reference for how successful the more recent reboot of the series was, but it never seemed to me like it had much impact. Perhaps the success of The Venture Brothers is responsible for the renewed interest, but it still seems be a pretty small niche market to attempt to appeal to.

My mind is racing with questions. Such as: "Why?" ("To make a buck.") and "How is Zac Efron going to play an 11-year old boy?" ("He won't. We've updated the character.") and "Oh fuck, you're going to totally fuck up the tone and try to make it sort of serious and modern, aren't you?" ("Yes. And we've added an awesomely hot love interest for Jonny. We've even got this awesome shot storyboarded out where we see, in the reflection off the lens of the walking eye robot, her and Jonny getting it on! It's awesome!") and "Seriously, WHY...?"

I know, too, that every time something is remade and reimagined for the big screen, someone's going to be screaming that its a bad idea. ("What? They're turning L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz into a movie? Good grief. I shan't stand for this!") It's always toughest for those that really love the source material. It's hard to not be protective and on the defensive. It's like Hollywood is the leather-jacket-clad motorcycle-riding bad boy taking our sister out on a date. "You better be good to her, man!" It's really only a tiny bit better when Hollywood is the Nick Andopolis-esque nice-guy suitor who perhaps loves a bit too much -- i.e. Peter Jackson's take on King Kong or Zack Snyder's take on, well, everything.

I know that it's difficult to transform one medium to another, and downright impossible to satisfy everyone. I also know, as far as pop-culture crimes go, it could probably be worse than a live-action Jonny Quest movie.

... just not much. Dammit.

I'm going to sulk and listen to ELO.

(The image above is from the Classic Jonny Quest site.)

"Don't Bring Me Down" by Electric Light Orchestra


Cutest robots ever

Tweenbots. The name conjures up the image of a robot army of Hannah Montana fans, or Terminators as designed by Sanrio.

Created by Kacie Kinzer as part of her thesis research, Tweenbots are:
... human-dependent robots that navigate the city with the help of pedestrians they encounter. Rolling at a constant speed, in a straight line, Tweenbots have a destination displayed on a flag, and rely on people they meet to read this flag and to aim them in the right direction to reach their goal.
Very cool. Also, adorable.

(Found via Slashdot.)

Yet more reissue wonderfulness

It has been announced that Cloud Recordings will be doing vinyl reissues of Olivia Tremor Control's beloved (and awkwardly named) pair of albums Music from the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle and Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One. There's not an official release date yet, but looks they'll be available sometime between late-summer and mid-fall. Man, what a year for vinyl reissues 2009 has been already. Maybe that's a bummer for those looking to make some eBay money, but it is good news for the rest of us.

"Define a Transparent Dream" by Olivia Tremor Control


The Mighty Hannibal

I just recently watched the episode of 'Daytripping' over at Pitchfork featuring King Khan. The most interesting parts of it involve King Khan talking about the huge influence of James Shaw (AKA The Mighty Hannibal, AKA King Hannibal). I had not previously known anything about The Mighty Hannibal, but immediately upon hearing his music, it was evident just how damn important he was to King Khan, and many other of the current crop of garage-y soul revivalists. Anyhow, Norton Records issued a great compilation of Shaw's work entitled Hannibalism! and it is definitely not to be missed. I just wish I had gotten turned onto this earlier. Better late than never, I suppose. (In my defense, there's less info in Wikipedia on him than there is on me. This is something that really, really should be remedied.)

There is, however, a short biography on the Mighty Hannibal over at AllMusic. Just also found another interesting (and more in-depth) article on him over at Creative Loafing. From said article:

Even though he was busy making history, Hannibal was far from a household name. But the legend's rabble-rousing spirit resonates with today's crop of rockers in a way that has earned him a new fan base – at a point in his career when most musicians would have already thrown in their turban... He reels through stories about hanging out with James Brown, Little Richard, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali, and talks about copping drugs with Ray Charles and being addicted to crack for more than 20 years. He's seen more than his share, but his spirit shows no sign of breaking.

The photo above was taken by Jacob Blickenstaff.

"My Kinda Girl" by The Mighty Hannibal


More reissue wonderfulness

I'm really pysched about this one. The third Wipers LP, Over The Edge, is getting reissued on vinyl, and it appears like its going to be a really solid package -- completely remastered from the original tapes and getting a 180-gram pressing. Nice. I can't wait.

"So Young" by the Wipers


Photography: Telepathe / Ladytron / The Faint

On April 2nd, I attended the Telepathe / Ladytron / The Faint show at First Avenue. My friend Ben Zvan had invited me to shoot photos at the show with him. Unsurprisingly, it was a great show all around. It was my first time shooting with my new camera -- and for the most part I'm pleased with the results. I wish I had some faster lenses, but all things in time. It'll also be nice as I get a bit more familar with the new gear.

Below are a few of my favorite images. You can browse the larger gallery here. I'll link to the stuff [the other] Ben shot as soon as he gets it posted.



The Faint:

"Psycho" by The Faint


Everybody loves a good montage sequence

One of these days, I swear I'll get around to the massive do-electro-remixes-of-the-entirety-of-the-Real Genius-soundtrack project. Really.

Just not anytime soon. Because I'm lazy. Also, my laptop really is (even after the hard drive surgery) going to self-destruct one of these days in the near future. Really.

This post primarily exists because of the Real Genius quotes traded over dinner tonight. (By the way, I think we all held ourselves back quite admirably. That could have gotten out of hand fast.) Plus, it's always fun to post Comsat Angels songs -- especially ones that are featured in really great montage sequences from really great movies.

Also, I've really got to try to track down at least the first three, maybe four, of their records. I've only got the "I'm Falling" 12-inch, and that's just not enough -- especially since, while being a great song, it really isn't the most representative of their other stuff. All things in time.

"I'm Falling" by The Comsat Angels


More things to look forward to

May 5th is shaping up to be a rather fabulous Tuesday. Sub Pop is putting out a revised version of Way Of The Vaselines, now titled Enter The Vaselines. The new even-more-definitive-than-before Vaselines collection will be a three LP affair. Not sure when this got announced, but I'm damn glad its happening. I've bid on a couple different copies of Way Of The Vaselines (as well as the nearly identical All The Stuff And More...) on ebay, but they've always gone for more than I was willing to spend. Speaking of price, here's the really good news: Insound has it available for pre-order for only $17. Happiness.

On the same day, Domino is reissuing The Kills' first LP, Keep On Your Mean Side. Definitely good news. Perhaps that means that No Wow will also get reissued in the near future. (I know its only just recently gone out of print... but I don't have a copy, dammit, so I'm hoping...)

"Kissy Kissy" by The Kills


There are moments that define just what kind of geek you are -- and they are, quite often, based around just what you are and are not willing to spend your money on.

Was I willing to spend $18 on LP of music from The Venture Brothers? Yes. Yes, I was. Because I'm that sort of geek.

Let's put this into perspective, though. I am both a Venture Brothers geek and a vinyl geek. This purchase hit a decently major intersection of geekiness for me. (I would be horrified to see a truly complete diagram of my obsessions.) In terms of the raw numbers, I haven't spent much money being a geek about Venture Brothers -- a t-shirt, two (until tomorrow; then three) DVDs, and, just a few moments ago, I purchased this record. However, I'm not willing to say how many records I've bought this month, let alone this year. I'm also not willing to put a dollar amount on it -- at least not publicly. So, I am forced to realize that I'm more ashamed about my geekiness over vinyl than my geekiness over Venture Brothers. Hmmm.

Patton Oswalt starts a story on Werewolves and Lollipops with the phrase:
My geekiness is getting in the way of my nerdiness.
I always really liked that line. Of course I do. I'm the kind of geek that has a copy of the vinyl pressing they did of Feelin' Kinda Patton -- and I've been a little upset that Werewolves hasn't gotten similar treatment yet.

There's that great, oft-quoted line from High Fidelity, where John Cusack's character, the record store owner Rob, says of vinyl and his customers:
The fetish properties are not unlike porn. I would feel guilty taking their money if I wasn't, kind of, well, one of them.
Ugh, so true. Hobbies and fetishes are really one and the same. Especially in the sense that, be it kinks or collectibles, one's personal tastes feel normal, even cool -- whereas other people's are foreign, even gross. Funnily enough, the most vitriolic reactions are towards people that could easily be categorized as being in a similar group. Let's put it this way: if someone tells me that they're into collecting stamps or model trains, my reaction will be somewhat disinterested -- along the lines of "Huh. That's kinda weird, but whatever." However, if someone tries to talk about how they mainly listen to Italian-prog-rock, well, fuck... they might as well admit that they're a furry.