July 21, 2021

Some filming before they fade away ..

585 days since writing here. Sorry about that.

There’s a few of music-related documentaries being released as films or streaming series out now reviewing stuff that happened 50 or more years ago both by interviewing the principals and unearthing new media. The time is right because first hand accounts won’t be around for much longer.

Summer of Soul

First and foremost is Questlove’s filmmaking debut. Over six weeks in the summer of 1969, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park. The footage was never seen and largely forgotten until this project. The list of performers is staggering: Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension, and more.

Summer of Soul Trailer

True story: The first bass line I ever learned was If You Want Me to Stay and not the obvious choice for a stoner in the 70s, Sugarloaf’s Green Eyed Lady.

The Sparks Brothers

I confess to knowing little of these artists works nor knowing of their influence. The trailer kinda floored me.

Didn’t know, but not surprised to know of the Brit art/punk rock connections: Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Smiths. Totally would have expected Bowie and Freddie Mercury to also be included.

Was surprised to know Bjork, Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Kurt Cobain all referenced Sparks as an influence.

What tipped the scales in mentioning this documentary was a quote from Millennial pop producer Jack Antonoff:

All pop music is rearranged Sparks

I would have liked to have that spelled out further in the film. Also missing is deeper exploration regards what informed Ron’s compositions.

https://www.ign.com/videos/the-sparks-brothers-official-trailer

Paul McCartney x Rick Rubin

A random walk among Paul’s work, perhaps uncovering some new insights.

December 13, 2019

Twee Forever

For better or worse, I still relate to art echoing emotions felt in my youth.

Today I learned the Girlpool‘s Cut Your Bangs is a cover (hat-tip genius.com community) of a Radiator Hospital twee pop track. For months, I still cannot get that track out of my head, notably the chorus refrain.
Girlpool slows it all down and pointedly highlights via dynamics and vocal harmonies this:


When you lie to me
it’s in the small stuff


Get’s me in the feels every time … not that there aren’t other barbs present in the original’s (lovely) up-tempo scat. Props to Girlpool for upgrading emotional impact of a 2 minute song.

Apologies for crappy formatting and such.


Original: https://open.spotify.com/track/1JdGVa0eAPovycGrGV03SS?si=fLIQWAiIRqWAqs9XHy8L6g
Cover: https://open.spotify.com/track/75T4FO7bShVDfUN1ZDA9yP?si=ZY-bnp0gRmmKCrAJQw48Fg
Lyrics: https://genius.com/Radiator-hospital-cut-your-bangs-lyrics
Radiator Hospital live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8ToqdHsoxo

October 21, 2017

RIP music-centric music platforms.

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Once upon a time one could anonymously express your love for Bootsy Collins, Bavarian polkas, Scandinavian metal, and Katy Perry and then discover other souls with a similar disposition on the same platform as the one delivering your music, from which one would discover other artists, which to me seemed to me a worthy product.

Alas, the market has deemed it unworthy, though it did exist for a brief moment.

As an epitaph, I’m sharing some random responses to a feature on Lala called “the blurb” wherein anyone could post on your feed. It was a magical time before anyone ​seemed to have a political or business agenda, before Facebook mattered, or before anyone had figured out how to exploit this feature with spam-bots and such.

quarked: “hey there, thanks for the heads up on Ruby Suns… I found the s/t album is on emusic and am now happier than I was 10 minutes ago. And thanks for sharing all your great playlists!”

elijah: “massive kudos for the great picks in the “chill pop” playlist :-)”

JUan. BeATs: “sweet disposition is so good”

Crizzle: “great yet simple review of Ciao My Shining Star :)”

sandeep: “Oh, all three of those playlists would be interesting. I especially like the shoe-gazer-ish one, being a big fan of the genre. What kinds of things would you add to the “dusty bits” one? (I’m still getting the hang of this commenting thing, I hope you can see this?)”

​RIP an era.​
June 2, 2017

The first of 2017 Silver Anniversary album tributes.

velvet_underground_and_nico

March 12th was the 50th anniversary of The Velvet Underground & Nico, arguably one of the most influential popular music recordings of the twentith century, though it wasn’t evident at the time of it’s publication. The cast of characters included:

  • the lyricist, a survivor of electroshock therapy, inspired by writers and poets of disreputable subjects, who mixed literary references with deviant topics, and provided most of the lead vocals
  • the classically-trained utility musician (bass, piano, viola, celeste) and principal arranger, a friend of the lyricist
  • the guitarist, a friend of the lyricist
  • the drummer, a former IBM keypunch operator, who studied African drummer Babatunde Olatunji, eschewed a conventional kit, omitted use of cymbals and played standing up
  • the producer, who was mostly hands-off,  but a world-renown artist
  • the secondary vocalist, an actress, model, and singer, inserted into the band at behest of the producer, who was described as “half goddess, half icicle”

This cast is also known, in order as, Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker, Andy Warhol and Nico.

In my estimation, the tracks on this album invented two new genres: Lo-Fi Pop and Noise/Art Rock. I’m sure you can pick which tracks did which. It would take another generation for those aspects to be relevant.

The album was a commercial failure, to which Brian Eno famously said “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band”. There are a number of artists on record as being influenced by Velvet Underground: Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Joy Division, R.E.M, Talking Heads, Galaxie 500, The Melvins, Nick Cave,, PJ Harvey, U2, Joy Division, Morrissey, Artic Monkeys, LCD Soundsystem, Roxy Music .. and if that weren’t enough .. even David Bowie. Some of these adopted either the Lo-Fi Pop or Noise/Art Rock nature, or a hybrid of both. I hear echos of this album all over in grungeshoe-gaze, goth, art rock and even 90’s indie.

The other ground-breaking and perhaps more influential aspect of this album is the uncloaked lyrical depictions of drug use, prostitution, and sexual deviations. The list of norms shattered by subsequent artists is endless.

Robert Christgau would write ten years later after this record’s release that the album was too hard to understand in 1967 and “which is probably why people are still learning from it”.

January 11, 2017

2016 Music Digest

Season-appropriate greetings everyone! As such, the ritual of compiling a best-of-year playlist continues. Predictably, it generally eschews well established artists (exception: Bowie) and is bent to my aging tastes, mostly soft-ish pop/rock with a few instrumental pieces thrown in. I’ve published it on Deezer and Spotify.

Surprisingly I survived all of tretcherous 2016 on Deezer. The platform didn’t improve at all over the year but I’ve come to rely upon a set of features: collaborative playlists with comments, LastFM scrobbling and play-next (insert at top of queue). The ex-Lala/MOG/Lala new-release hunter-gatherer tribe remaining on Deezer has dwindled down to just a few souls and has continued the tradition of unearthing the best of new and unknown artists. However, we are missing obscure selections made by the most erudite folks of the Lala era. C’est dommage.

In other news, in January, Pandora will be launching its premium subscription Spotify/Apple/Google/Amazon on-demand competitor (news via Forbes and Verge). Early indications are the only DNA scraped from the carcass of Rdio is it’s slick UI design. The industry press is saying “too-little, too-late”, but I believe they have some capital in the form of it’s long-time users who have ever pressed the thumbs-up button [I could be wrong, but I believe the Pandora thumbs-up predates Facebook Like]. Imagine one button to play a stream of everything you liked from an era. Could be either glorious or scary!

December 8, 2016

Why I’m using Deezer

Season-appropriate greetings everyone! 

photo

So I’ve survived a year on Deezer. The platform didn’t improve at all over the year but I’ve come to rely upon a set of features not available on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music or Amazon Music Unlimited (yeah, they’re into that now too):

  • collaborative playlists with comments 
  • LastFM scrobbling

The ex-Lala/MOG/Lala new-release hunter-gatherer tribe remaining on Deezer has dwindled down to just a few souls and has continued the tradition of unearthing the best of new and unknown artists. However, we are missing obscure selections made by the most erudite folks of the Lala era. C’est dommage

As such my ritual of compiling a best-of-year playlist has endured. Predictably, it eschews established artists (exception: Bowie) and is bent to my aging tastes, mostly soft-ish pop/rock with a few instrumental pieces thrown in. I’ve published it on Deezer and SpotifyObviously, there is no obligation to listen, but if you know any musical directors looking for navel-gazing, dramatic audio material on likely favorable terms, please share. 🙂

In other news, in January, Pandora will be launching its premium subscription Spotify/Apple/Google/Amazon on-demand competitor (news via Forbes and Verge). Early indications are the only DNA scraped from the carcass of Rdio is it’s slick UI design. The industry press is saying “too-little, too-late”, but I believe they have some capital in the form of it’s long-time users who have ever pressed the thumbs-up button [I could be wrong, but I believe the Pandora thumbs-up predates Facebook Like]. Imagine one button to play a stream of everything you liked from an era. Could be either glorious or scary!

Anyway, thanks for reading and I love you.

August 25, 2016

Long live Rdio. It’s theme transcends Spotify’s darkness.

For those among us who still mourn the loss of Rdio, Devin Halladay has produced a reasonable facimile to be used when consuming the Spotify product:

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 01.33.48.png

August 19, 2016

Paradise Lost

The garden of Eden with the fall of man, by Jan Brueghel de Elder and Peter Paul Rubens

Like so many Friday’s before, tonight is when the music industry releases it’s latest creations. There was a time when there had been an obsession, a cult, that had the thrill of discovering interesting productions, where robots weren’t involved. Sorry all you folks that deliver delightful data-mining results. I do admire the science of it. But there’s something lost: the opportunity for individual souls to react unencumbered to new art.

As such, I’m rather sad.

June 18, 2016

2013 Exhumation: Robots want your love.

I’m unearthing a unpublished draft post written in reaction to the announcement of Google Play All Access from 2013.  I recall thinking of “Tyranny of the Majority”, “Dunbar’s Number” and “The 90-9-1 Principle” and the notion that communities of unpaid music curators are rare, fragile, precious and worthy of preservation.

The thing is, what Google was promoting then is equally apropos to what Spotify is now.

So here it is, from 2013, what the presenter said announcing All Access, and my reaction:

“Music unites us. It’s universal. No matter who you are, or where you’re from, the joy of music is a constant. And with ubiquitous mobile devices, there is a potential to bring that joy with us wherever we are. But when a bunch of us on the Play Team got together to talk about the next generation of our Music service, we all agreed the reality was somewhat different. Yes, mobile devices give us more choices than ever before, but they weren’t helping us discover music we loved. It felt more like work. .. so why is it that like managing my queue feels like a chore?”

My answer: “because it is a worthwhile chore.”  Would you ignore a reading a book that wasn’t on the New York Times Bestseller list? What is wrong with expending effort, especially on something you are passionate about?  For me the hunt and sharing of discoveries of any art is a joy. Google may have a spectacular categorization, tagging and recommendation algorithm, but if one succumbs to only what the robots anticipate as your every desire, it diminishes the value of one’s connection to every other sentient being.Radio Wall Plate • closeup

April 30, 2016

The glory of Deerhoof, two decades hence

I would like to celebrate the twenty-plus years of the Art, Noise, DIY, Mysticism, and Creative Joy of Deerhoof.

Trivia: Their seminal Apple’O album was recorded in one nine hour session.

 

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