that's why we only work when we need the money

dear friends,

the monkey set up a page where you can listen to streaming versions of some of the songs that I've recommended. hopefully, they'll pique your interest & make you search those artists out.

the songs can be found here.*

also, at some point in the next few weeks, we shall be making the move to www.softcommunication.net. as soon as I figure out what that entails...(cue soft communication theme song)

love, d

* just so we're on the right side o' the law, if any of the aforementioned artists or their representatives object to our streaming. please contact us & we will take it down.


you know you can follow my voice

dear friends,

friday is the bestest day in the world. especially pay-day friday. today I plan to treat myself like a duchess & lord about the manor or at least the lower east side in freakin' style. if you see a woman dressed in a canary yellow blouse swanning about somewhere on bowery tonight with a loud laugh & an eclair in hand, that would be me. be sure to say hello.

1. I'll never forget the first time I heard kim deal's voice. I was in my mom's bedroom rifling through her jewelry & the local alterna radio started playing gigantic. I cocked my head like the hmv dog & listened. I didn't know what that song was about, or who or what exactly was really that big; I just felt drawn by the repetition & how soothing & intimate her voice was. soft but with this occasional, not unpleasant sandpaper quality. it seemed as if her voice could turn to either of those sides on a word & those words were all meant especially for whoever happened to be listening. in this case, me.

one recent track featuring her voice that's probably been overlooked by those of you who aren't into songs from musicals (that might be everyone here save contributors george & tavie but I might be wrong...) is the breeders' cover version of wicked little town from hedwig & the angry inch. the rough & the sweet are both in evidence & since the song is part lullaby, part gentle seduction & part statement of recognition, it plays to all of deal's strengths as a vocalist. an inspired pairing of material & artist.

2. usually songs that start with an eeeee noise make me think that a test of the emergency broadcast system is taking place & I promptly turn off the radio before the instict to start squealing along takes over. in the case of the deathray davies' tune the medications gone, they got lucky 'cause I was feeling lazy. this tune possesses that particular rock anomaly; the caveman stomp drum. this type of beat is the best friend of many a male music geek because no fancy footwork is required to dance along. all you have to do is nod your head fiercely to the cavernous beat. perfect when standing in a packed club & you want to move but can't 'cause of the crowd. but of course this band couldn't stop there so they added a sly organ line on top of it all which makes the song a fitting tribute to good time 60's rock even if the deadpan vocal is as modern indie as it comes. not perfect but still a worthy addition to a shuffle.


as a fan of both rock & sex in films, naturally I saw 9 songs when it premiered last weekend. the film has been inspiring a lot of chatter largely because the explicit sex scenes in the movie are real & not acted. real parts, real time (ostensibly) & at least one of the orgasms is eh visibly real. now, I'm a fan of director michael winterbottom's not just 'cause he named one of his movies after an elvis costello song but because when he wants to, his use of music in his films is satisfyingly dexterous. my favorite, if uninspired choice, is in 24 hour party people, when after a gruelling session recording she's lost control with legendary madman producer martin hannett, ian curtis, peter hook, bernard sumner (then albrecht - oh, who's a geek?) of joy division & tony wilson of factory records decide to test out the material by listening to it in a moving car.

of course, I have to go back here. previously hannett has decided that in order to get the particular drum sound he wanted, they would have to assemble the drum kit on the roof of the studio & record drummer steve morris playing the tune's relentless teutonic beat up there until someone came to tell him to stop. so later when the musicians drive away & the drums sound fills the car, we can see from the shot that it cues up perfectly with morris still on the roof, still playing that beat like the drum machine he pretty much is 'cause no one came up to tell him that the session was over. a great moment, probably false as all get out, but it displays an imagination that understands exactly what the right sound & image can say in a film.

I probably expected too much from 9 songs as a result. the film is one long remembrance of an affair between a brit & a comely young american girl in london. presently, the brit is doing something with ice in antarctica (reviewers say he's a glacierologist, not that I would've guessed that but then again, unless there's "press play" involved, I'm shamefully ignorant) & while he rummages around in the snow he remembers the sex. oh & the live music they went to see, most of it indie rock. these live shows are seen from the couple's perspective; out in the crowd, looking at the stage & multi-colored lights. the movie falls into an easy groove of sex, black rebel motorcycle club, sex, the dandy warhols, sex, michael nyman, etc...

I was disappointed. not by the boot knockin' but by the music. the sex was interesting in a nature film way, like oh, that's common? huh, interesting. that's not to say that it wasn't erotic, which it was at times. I just felt that winterbottom never made a convincing connection between the music & the relationship or at least the memory of it. he could've just as easily punctuated the fermatas between shags with a trip to a restaurant or the zoo. & while winterbottom has repeatedly said that he didn't intend the film to be arousing, I feel that's a ridiculously out of touch statement because if he means to show sex as it is between people who are passionate about one another how could it fail to be? so what's the problem then? well, I wanted the music in the film to be just as affecting & sexy as the bed action. because if that is what he chooses as a framing device then it needs to be just as intimate & important. as it was, it seemed like an afterthought, & I felt let down by someone who usually doesn't miss on that score.

nevertheless, I wouldn't say it's not worth seeing. I found kieran o'brien's performance quite good & I've seen him in other films & he's always seemed like he was "acting". in this film, he genuinely seems blind-sided by his feelings as they make their inevitable progression from lust to love. & while margo stilley, who looks like a longer, slightly zonked maggie gyllenhaal, doesn't come across as well it works to her advantage since the whole movie is his memory. she can remain maddeningly unknowable.

I'm sure it'll wind up becoming people who find porn artificial & distasteful's favorite rocks off title. but as an art film, it feels empty & unfinished. the music performances, lacking any subtext, fail to complete the portrait of love/lust lost.

anywho, a couple of the musical acts come off okay despite the graininess of the images & truncated versions of the songs. the monkey & I are split on this one, he votes the von bondies' c'mon, c'mon, I vote for franz ferdinand's jacqueline but I suspect this is because we love those songs to begin with so they couldn't fail. you tell me what you think.

must go...work beckons. enjoy your weekends!

love, d

songs to seek: wicked little town/the breeders, the medications gone/the deathray davies, c'mon, c'mon/the von bondies, jacqueline/franz ferdinand

snap judgements and sweet deals

Working at record stores nearly all my life has been good to me. I've amassed a ridiculous amount of music over the last 13 years - most of it free. But this also has a downside. You see, when I was just a wee lad with a paper route I had to pay for my cherished cassette tapes. Usually I would get one per month, and it was not unusual for me to pay for most of my purchases in large amounts of change (sorry mom for dipping into your quarter jar). Because my music purchases were so sparse, I had no choice but to listen to them again and again and again. Even if the first listen didn't really do it for me, after a couple weeks I would come to know and love Side A. After I got sick of Side A, I would finally get to Side B (unless the single was on side B, then it would be the opposite). I would know all the lyrics, be able to air guitar any solos, and I would have poured over the liner notes to reveal any possible insight into the band. Some of these first albums were "Strange Days" by The Doors, Led Zeppelin 4, "Earth Sun Moon" by Love and Rockets and the 1st Sugarcubes album.

But times have changed. With the constant influx of free music(about 10-15 a week) I don't have the luxury of time to digest the songs. Instead I usually sit down with a pile of albums and make snap judgements. It usually goes like this:

1. Check out the band/artists name and the album cover/packaging. If the band has a picture of themselves on the front or back cover looking all artsy they're already doomed. Every once in a while a group can overcome this and still make the cut, but it's pretty rare. If the album has an ugly cover I might put off listening to it. For instance, Animal Collective's "Sung Tongs" sat in a pile for almost a year. I am actually listening to it while I write this.

2. Pop in the album. If the artist/album is something I've read about and think I'm going to like, I will let it play up to about track 5 or 6, unless it reveals itself to be not at all what I expected. Then it might get ejected by track 2. If it's a good album it will get played all the way through and probably get replayed immediately to ensure that it truly is that good. I love when this happens. The recent ones have been Mobius Band's EP, Daniel Lanois' "Bella Donna", Sam Prekop's "Who's Your New Professor?" and surprisingly Annie's "Anniemal" (total guilty pleasure).

3. If it's a band I've never heard of it will get the Snippet Treatment. This poor band gets a mere 20-30 seconds of the first couple tracks to win me over. I usually feel pretty guilty about this, especially since I'm in a band and would hate to think that someone could listen to our music the same way. But than again, most bands are pretty crappy. Or the band will be playing a type of music that I know is not "my thang". Emo, punk and garage bands usually fall into that category. Not to say I don't like any of those genres, but most bands will just be shamelessly ripping off the genre. I definitely don't need to hear a band that's ripping off Rancid who ripped off The Clash ten years earlier. Sometimes a band will confound me. The Snippet Treatment won't be enough. Part of me just wants to dismiss it and move on, but I just can't, yet I'm not quite up to hearing the whole album out. So it returns to a stack of CDs that I will eventually return to. I think it's especially amusing that some of those albums may just kick my ass 6-8 months later. I've held onto albums for years before I finally discovered them. This happened with both Pere Ubu and The Wipers.

I miss those days of limited choices. I miss when my tape collection easily fit into the top drawer of my dresser. Now my vinyl,tape and CD collection is in danger of taking over our aparment. By the way, I want to give a shoutout to my girl Jessica for not only putting up with this obsession, but for encouraging it. She's the only girlfriend I've had who can keep up with this sickness and sit in on those snap judgement sessions. In fact, many of those albums I dismiss upon first listen she will give a second chance to. I have a dream that someday we will have a place big enough to accommodate our habit. We will have a "Listening Room" that will just be all our albums, a sweet stereo, and a couple of comfy chairs. Ok, maybe a mini fridge to stock with beer and Orangina. We'll be sure to invite you all over.

Now as I said before I work at a record store, the Virgin Megastore in Union Square to be exact. Many of you have visited me there which is very sweet, but most of you leave without buying anything. This saddens me. I know you're all hip and savvy and can download whatever you want for free, and I also understand that most of the stuff we sell is overpriced. So I thought I would use this forum to tell you about a couple cool bargains that we have coming up. Perhaps this is crass, but I truly love my job and want that store to return to being the coolest corporate record store it used to be. So here's a little list of great albums that will be only $10 from August 12 to about the end of September. Maybe there's something there you haven't already had your friends burn for you. Consider the following:

1. Belle and Sebastian- "Fold your Hands..."
2. Belle and Sebastian- "Push Barman to..."
3. Big Star- "#1 Record/Radio City"
4. Blonde Redhead- "Misery is a Butterfly"
5. Cat Power- "You Are Free"
6. Stephen Malkmus- "Face The Truth"
7. Mars Volta- "De-loused in the..."
8. MF Doom- "Live From Outer Space", "Special Herbs vol. 5 & 6"
9. Mountain Goats- "The Sunset Tree"
10. New Pornographers- "Electric Version"
11. Portishead- "s/t"
12. The Roots- "Do You Want More?"
13. Sigur Ros- ()

...as well as a 250 more titles. Either way, I've done my job. But don't worry, you can still swing on by and say hi without me trying to sell you something. It's all good.

By the way - I didn't really like the Animal Collective.


my shaking is steady

dear friends,

I've been busy legging it* so I missed my tuesday post. I'm thinking of changing my hours anyway so perhaps it's for the best.

contributor tina was the only one that came up with a rock apocalypse scenario (georgia & ira breaking up) so she won a mix from me. I know, I know, valuable stuff we give away here at soft communication! I try. because I did not purchase anything this week, I will talk about a few tracks from that upcoming mix. the chosen theme is "sitting contemplatively and looking out the window while it's thunderstorming". here goes...

1. yes, we've already raved & raved about diane cluck, but can you blame us? here's another sweet morsel for you. in my researching I've found herman dune which is made up of two scandinavian siblings, andre and david-ivar, who live in brooklyn & write & sing melancholy slices of gorgeous oddball pop. their country-ish (I love country-ish, it's different than straight country, it's faded & unadorned but so beautiful) live like the boys, featuring cluck on vocals, is the kind of song you wish your friends would warble around a campfire so that when they hit those harmonies, you could sigh quietly at the prettiness. or not. you might just chomp at your beef/tofu jerky in silence. but you'll certainly be more wistful about it.

2. loopy loopy love by the brunettes is as bouncy & pastel-colored a pop confection as one would hope to find. I don't have much to say about it other than it's as cute as contributor jessica & as those of you who have seen el jezel perform can attest, that's pretty darn cute.

3. I've talked about ryan adams before. I've been listening to his new album, cold roses, which is sort of a country return, as it were, full of dust & images of roadside flowers & women you've lost. magnolia mountain is a pedal steel lament about those very subjects & has some of adams most heartfelt singing in a while. he sounds battered & broken; dead tired but willing to mend if he could only lie in your arms for a moment. no wonder he gets so many ladies. sadly, that stuff often works.

4. the stranglers' singer hugh cornwell always sounds like dirty, soused perv even when he's trying to sing about nice things. peaches is not a song about nice things therefore the vocal is perfection. a sleazy slo-ska crawl along a boardwalk with a guy who's having one boring sweltering summer. he wants some violent action but for now he'll satisfy himself by looking at ladies sunning themselves. a song that belongs in a movie that hasn't been filmed yet 'cause that is what I think about when I stare out of windows looking at rain: soundtracks to imaginary films.

5. I will be writing about john martyn for soft communication next week. on a related note, I've been listening to jose gonzales, a singer/guitarist who sounds achingly like a cross between nick drake (vocals) & martyn (guitar) with touches of flamenco style thrown in. listen to stay in the shade off of his album veneer & enjoy the rain splashed greenery.

love, d

* I mean this. I suppose I should write "spine-ing it" but it doesn't have the same ring.

songs to seek: to live like the boys/herman dune & diane cluck, loopy loopy love/the brunettes, magnolia mountain/ryan adams, peaches/the stranglers, stay in the shade/juan gonzales


One Band Between Us

Note: for the purposes of this post, Kirsten's comments will be in pink and Tavie's will be in yellow

So Tavie and I agree on next to nothing musically. We grew up with the same ignorance of anything resembling rock and watched many a sparkly musical. Nonetheless our tastes stray down very different paths.

Now as twins we have awesome mythical psychic powers and with these awesome mythical psychic powers we share visions. One of these in particular is triggered by folk music. Back in the day our geek father used to throw geek parties where he and his jolly band of SCA fellows would whip out the acoustic guitars and....well, filk*. But when they were not mucking around in Elvish, they played beautifully.

One of the things Tavie and I listened to constantly as kids was a cassette tape called "Dinosaurs, Dolphins and Dreams" by obscure-as-shite musician Tony Soll.

He had one children's song on it called "Revel" to which we STILL remember the tune and lyrics after 20 years.

Revel my friends by the warmth of the fire
revel together as one
we'll dance out the chill
and sing out the cold
and together we'll bring out the sun

If ANYone out there besides Tavie knows these lyrics, I will be astounded.
I'll interject to note, the entire record was folksy, silly, sweet children's songs that no one else seems to have heard of but me and Kirsten, thereby strengthening my theory that we lived in our own private world as children.

Anyway, whenever we heard it, we always saw the same thing. Dad's friends sitting in a circle around a proverbial campfire swaying under the stars. It's a fuzzy, intimate scene and as children we were voyeurs to it.

Only one band has brought back this feeling. HEM.
Intimacy is why we love HEM. And yes, I said we. I got her into it firrrsssst!

Anecdote. Night train from Edinburgh. I'm sleeping in an unheated car across two seats when I'm awakened by an agonizing Charley Horse. No amount of massage or flexing stops it. It's painnnn! Using my quick wit, I dug out a pair of woolen arm warmers and stuck them on my foot. Then I popped in Hem's Rabbit Songs.

Like Demerol, m'friends. Sweet, sweet, Demerol.

As you can imagine, I was terribly reluctant to listen to Hem at first. I was sure the songs would all be in Japanese, as is almost everything Kirsten gives me to listen to.

I was wrong. They're literally as American as apple pie; they conjure images of both Tennessee mountain shacks and midwestern plains as seen through a train window by moonlight, and of Virginia's forests in the autumn and California's redwoods in the summertime; and, sometimes, of wandering through an indeterminately-located ghost town, getting your sandaled toes dusty. (I'm not crazy; I know Kirsten sees these things too.)

I'm guessing Hem would be filed under "Americana" by the labelers. They're filed under "Soothing Purveyors of Sweet-Voiced Lullabyes" by me, and I keep a playlist on my iPod as a last resort for sleepless nights; most of the songs on their debut album, Rabbit Songs, take me to those rural, moonlit venues and get me drifting. It's the combination of gorgeous fiddlin' (oh, how I have a thing for fiddlin') and Sally Ellyson's exquisite voice. I can't describe it as anything but achingly beautiful.

I haven't had a chance to dive into their sophomore Eveningland, but every song on Rabbit Songs is a favourite. Half Acre is probably the best for falling asleep, and Cuckoo to gently but insistently wake my toes into tapping on the subway rides to work.

*Kirsten has failed to define this: definition of filk.


I think I must interject here

dear friends,

woke up with news of more london bombings. am saddened by the news. my heart is with blighty.

the morning also brought me a strong 8 on the richter scale of crippledom. can walk but it doesn't look very nice. think: the hammer horror mummy. am depressed about the gimp-itude. so ends the longest run in a while of non-pain & mobility. getting hopeful & all that jazz. I stare at my shufflin' ipod. I am glad I have working ears.

1. in the sidebar I've added "ghetto-style listings of upcoming nyc shows". it is ghetto 'cause I don't know how to give each listing a bullet or even link it to anything BUT I still feel that we needed some listings much like when back in the day I was grateful for the huge chunk of government cheese the soldiers would give us even if the stuff was so suspect it wouldn't melt in the toaster. it forced us to get creative.

if you are a contributor or even just a reader & you plan to play in nyc OR there's a show that you feel should be listed by artist(s) you enjoy, let me know & I will update the listings accordingly. if you are a contributor & you have a problem with my lack of 'net finesse & ohmygodthere'snolinks!, please contact me with your suggestions.

2. for a very good tip, check out this post from contributor liz over at the people's dance party. in other contributor news, check out this radio broadcast (click most recent) by none other than contributor phil on east village radio. he sounds very serious. I believe it's because he takes his music seriously. his setlist includes quite a few songs that are faboo so check it out.

3. joy zipper were featured on a postcard given out at siren fest. the picture said (not in words, duh) we are a girl & a boy & we enjoy pasta. interesting marketing choice. I heard about them on KCRW a whiles back & promptly investigated their album american whip. their sound has heavenly shafts of sunshine-y beach boys harmonies (courtesy of the aforementioned spaghetti lovers) but things don't stay very safe 'cause whenever the guitars come in & the boy part of the singing equation takes over, the songs turn into mini-celebrations of jesus & mary chain & spiritualized. interesting, heh? I like it but I like the spaceman so if you do as well or just like the xx/xy, go find their sweetly cool space-rock ode, christmas song, which speaks of feeling someone the most when you're "deep in madness" which sounds ridiculous but it's sung so dreamily that you figure that the singer's just dizzy from the swirl. or if you want something a bit more peppy, try & find out of the sun which breaks out with happily splashed cymbals & loud in the mix bass & then before you know it, you're covered in orange juice. it's that sweet. file under: california sunshine for shoegazers. to judge for yourself, come to mercury lounge, friday night and check them out. I believe they go on at ten but I would check with the venue.

4. speaking of girl/boy sweetness, try as I might to resist that generalissimo of cute & fuzzy, ben gibbard, he keeps winning me over. & I hate the o.c.! the first time I heard the postal service, I started bopping my head & doing what I thought was a very sinuous interpretive dance. there's just the right kinda keyboard swell to it all their numbers that sound makes me hop-along happy. I like gurgles & slow dawning wake-up calls which is how I hear songs like such great heights. it percolates like a coffee machine that's about to break out in a dance routine & how awesome would that be as you wipe the sleep from your eyes in the morning?

but truly my favorite track on the album is nothing better. because there's the happy electronics & the pretty duet but it's sad as hell. gibbard sounds so nice & reasonable when he sings to his ex that they should get back together, marry & be happy that when the ex (jenny lewis) comes in with the screeching brakes to tell him, eh no, that's not how it was & it's not how it is, the weight of his delusion hits you oddly. you don't realize what's going on until the song ends & it's over pretty fast. this unsettling combination of bounce & unsparing relationship x-ray made me wonder what kind of diabolical creature the pleasant faced gibbard is when he's at home. I can't wait for his next side project. whether it's bossa nova or hardcore, it should intrigue.

5. everyone likes the bomp ba bomp chhhh X2 intro of the ronettes' be my baby so it's been done to death by various musical types. that being said, I find the retro-stylings of the ponys' little friends quite sweet as rip-offs go. with a chiming guitar hook cribbed from the byrds, a vocal lifted from the drool of a grungy slacker & backing too-too-roos; I want to hate it 'cause it's basically a tiny frankenstein of a garage rock song but...I find I can't. they picked the best parts of the monster. good job on that one, young band. I shall research you further.

love, d

songs to seek: christmas song/joy zipper, out of the sun/joy zipper, nothing better/the postal service, little friends/the ponys


I can't believe the things you say (second edition)

OR vague-ish recollections of the freakin' weekend feat. the siren festival* & bad ketchup on suspect fries

dear friends,

in the spirit of candor, I experienced two of the worst hangovers of my young life last weekend. perhaps it is best that I have an indigenous constitution. if I could handle the firewater like a viking or contributor tina, I would be way too social. I'd have an entourage made up of equally wasted but fashionable loud ass freaks & we'd go from rock show to rock show making spectacles of ourselves. alas, I am lazy & don't even like to go out during the work week much less keep up with the stylin' therefore it's better that I'm lame. that's what I keep telling meself, anyhow.

1. went to red hook, brooklyn's rock venue the hook (HUGE!) to see some friends perform at a party for the deli magazine & wound up catching a band that was so fabulous, contributor bryan had to issue me a free drink ticket for dancing. I was doing the mashed potato & wuz fierce! like a tiger! RAAAR!

but yes, the band, mistakes! was fantastic! fantastic! aaah! anyone that puts so much effort to appear as punk rock as their singer, ugly**, who was clearly sartorially channeling combat rock era joe strummer, but then turns around & daintily plays the xylophone hunched over like zorak is my kind of frontman. alternately spastic & graceful, this guy was a goose stepping, spitting, tambourine show-offin', lady in the audience dry humping***, bug-eyed NUT. the best part of all was that freak could SING, so the frontman up to 11 charisma was merely the cherry on the whole concoction.

the rest of the band was aces. the infectious punk meets ska meets new wave never sounded like a lame throwback. influences were worn on sleeves sure BUT those boys weren't afraid to adorn that sound with unusual elements (a falsetto counterpoint backing vocal, a prog rock keyboard line) to make the sum of those influences completely theirs. the rest of mistakes! were just as committed to making the crowd go b-a-n-a-n-a-s as their vocalist & as a jaded concertgoer, I appreciate that. I will definitely go see them again & again.

I purchased their full length at the show & I found it to be nowhere near their mad, whirling live sound. I recognized a few numbers but it was like before & after pictures of people who've had reconstructive surgery or if that fails to make sense to you; muted & removed. no matter. they will rock you live so go catch them at their next show & perhaps their next album will be worthy of their boss live performance. yes. I am using the slang word boss.

special shout out to the dude from madame robot wearing a mauve/maroon dress shirt & jaunty american flag 'kerchief round his neck. he got the look. & according to friends who caught the tail end of their set, they've got an awesome sound as well...I'll investigate & report back.

2. we were late to coney island's festivities on saturday 'cause the house elves had stolen my sunglasses. bright unrelenting sun! people in ludicrous outfits! beckoning fried smells coming from life-threatening food! looks like siren, smells like siren, must be siren!

I caught half of the dears', which I've ranted about in these posts, set. I l-l-loved them but it was a bit bizarre to hear their swirling, dramatic apocalyptic tales of love lost in the daylight. anywho, because I am classy, I would like to offer a hearty congratulations to murray lightburn & natalia yanchak for gettin' bus-AY. yanchak looked cool as a cuke & she was singing & tickling the ivories all whilst beatifically pregnant. & lest we forget, she was doing all this in the broiling armpit of city summer festival. amazing. just for that, she should receive an award for rock excellence.

for kicks go see the sad, sad story of a heartbroken teddy bear in their video for their ultra doom-romantique duet, 22: the death of romance on myspace.

caught some of morningwood, the latest signed from nyc folks. I felt for their lead singer chantal claret. poor girl's hair had frizzed to mushroom cloud proportions & she was trying to work something out with the crowd but there was a lot of crossed arms resistance. judging from their set, I thought that the drawing point with them is definitely her voice but that voice is ill served by tunes like the lackluster, karaoke-style cover of knock on wood & the screech sing posturing in the ranty verses of jetsetter. I think claret's real vocal sound is this deeper, bluesy thing too sweet to be a growl but almost that & it got out occasionally like a leopard paw through a cage. but not enough. what was up there did not represent what I think she is capable of. regardless, I'll give the upcoming album a whirl & get back to you.

met up with some friends, ate some nasty food, the monkey took me where I really wanted to go...the ferris wheel! (jumping up & down with an idiot look of delight) I loves me a ferris wheel! especially the wonder wheel at coney! up at the very top I shouted "all this could be ours!" & gestured grandly at the beach & stadiums. I wish I could say I laughed maniacally after that but all I did was smile at my boy in the sky.

back to show... we managed to catch dungen, the swede proggers with a penchant for flute & dynamics with an exclamation mark. I rather liked them. they were earnest & feeling it! (I guess with flutes you kind of have to be) but I got the distinct sense that I would like their music better in another setting. a cold one. with incense. & a tapestry on the wall that has unicorns hidden in its patterns. ya feel me?

I will get their album. as soon as it stops being an import & rock snob talisman (from the conversations I overheard, you'd think it was indie garlic & holy water combined into a smoothie). so yeah...that may take a while.

we left. sad innit? I wanted to see spoon & brendan benson but jiminy christmas, when will siren festival organizers figure out that the better venue with the better sound is the second stage!?! wider! with escape routes! please! I'd like to be able to feel like I'm not gonna get crushed by sweaty band t-shirt wearing yoots with aggression to burn.

man, I'm so unrock. that's how I know glastonbury isn't it my stars. le sigh.

we sat sun-dumb on a boardwalk bench & watched the fog roll in & overtake the amusements. then we dawdled back to the d train. we'll be back next year.

love, d

* I've been looking at other blog recaps of siren festival I've noticed lots of ranting about the proliferation of brooklyn hipsters. I've...eh seen some of those ranters out & about & well, they ARE brooklyn hipsters. (brain explodes) SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE!

I'd like to assure the non-contributin' readership that I am very uncool & can't dress. also, I have never, ever worn cowboy boots in an ironic way in 90 degree weather.

conversely, I think that we need hipsters. I have a theory that ties them to the ecology & my alternating feelings of self-loathing & superiority. I'll go into it at some point. just not now.

** alas, ugly was not really ugly. it would've been kinda faboo if he looked liked that dude in the goonies, you know, the one with the egg shaped head...& then rocked that hard. oh well.

*** he knew the lady in question so don't be scared. stand right up at the front, just don't get spat on.

band to go see live: mistakes


golden feelings

I like New York best when it's quietly epic, when the F train rattling across the elevated tracks in Brooklyn falls silent and everyone stares out a different window, watching rooftops. I like drifting alone down busy streets, the bridges and the hazy sunsets, seeing a yellow dress left hanging over a fourth-story fire escape. As often as my feet itch and my dreams plague me with forests and fields, I will always love those particular city-things.

Bands like the Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs wind up on magazine covers under headlines dubbing them "the New York sound," but sometimes the retro-thrash rebel-yelling puts me in mind only of those things I hate about New York: the fashion parades, the rushing, the jostling, the crashing din between my ears. I think, why can't the New York sound be more... quietly epic? Why don't we dethrone everyone in tight trousers and hand the key of the city over to F.M. Cornog?

Cornog, better known as East River Pipe, makes beautifully cinematic pop songs that never stray into the Pretentious Zone. The emotion is palpable but restrained, and while Cornog records most of his work by himself at home, you'd hardly know it. One listen and you can tell you're dealing with a master craftsman.

While most of East River Pipe's songs are laden with melancholy, they're somehow not depressing. Perhaps it's the gorgeous synthesizers, or the soothing drum machine, or the soaring yet simple melody lines. Perhaps it's F.M.'s voice, tinged with weariness but also with strength and authority. I've been around, this voice says. Let me tell you. Much has been made of Cornog's past (for several years he was homeless, sleeping in subway stations); he met a woman who helped him get back on his feet and into a home recording studio in Astoria. A native of New Jersey, an interviewer once noted that the only decor in his studio were old postcards of Asbury Park, itself a fertile ground of beautiful decay, nostalgia and hope. In another interview, Cornog summarized his past battles with alcoholism and homelessness by quoting Bob Dylan: "It's possible to be so defiled in this world that even your mother and father won't know you. But God will always believe in your ability to mend your own ways."

Therein, I think, lies the East River Pipe philosophy - existential despair (urban existential despair particularly) cannot be denied. But there's a light at the end of every tunnel, and millions across every bridge.

Epitonic has a fine East River Pipe page.
Find East River Pipe releases from the friendly folks at Merge.
F.M. prefers the Tascam 388.

Songs to seek: "Make a Deal with the City" from Shining Hours in a Can; "When the Ground Walks Away" from Poor Fricky.

ps. F.M. has also played with those wacky Lambchop-ers, but all I know about them is that they bill themselves as "Nashville's most fucked-up country band."



Quickie: Ah to iu ma

Hey dudes,

Remember when I said Singer Songer was the dumbest Japanese band name ever?

I was wrong.

Labels: ,


walk like a robot from 1984

Dear friends,

I'm writing, it must be Thursday. I need to do many things. I need to do the work of three people tomorrow when the sales department will be out. I need to trim my fingernails so I don't resemble Rip Van Winkle. I need to shoot dirty, dirty looks from my perch on the 63 bus as it slowly passes the salon where a hairdresser named Natasha left me looking like I have two big parentheses (parenthesi?) on the sides of my face after she attempted to freakin' layer. I need to get that Kylie Minogue DVD from Netflix NOW. I don't care if there is "a very long wait". I want dance numbers and scantily clad, toothy Aussies strutting and doing rump shakes. That will certainly make me feel better after what is turning into a very special feel bad month. Grrrr!

1. I love The Dirtbombs because no one makes me happier currently in a live setting. They are sweaty shouting good times and while the overall sound could be called garage rock, there's so much dance in it, there's more groove than flail. Fearless leader Mick Collins has a teenage daydreamer's idea of what a rock star should wear on stage: HUGE black glasses (to disguise the fact that he usually needs bottle-thick specs), shiny shirts (to distract us from those glasses?) and the gigantic smile of a man that loves his job and and his double rhythm section (two drummers, two bassists) make such a righteous, groove-heavy racket that whenever I see them I feel this revival tent feeling coming from the crowd. They forget themselves and dance. How wonderful is THAT to see at a rock show? Especially here in the too cool for school capitol of the world, New Yawk.

The 'bombs just released an excellent 2 disc comp called If You Don't Already Have a Look (a poke at a bit of advice Little Steven gave bands playing his garage fest shows - apparently that sentence ends "...you should consider getting one"). One disc of singles and one disc of covers. Give the Elliott Smith cover, Brand New Game, a few listens. One of those great songs that ends too quickly and you have to hear again; it's revved up, angry and authoritative in a way Mr. Smith would've loved. But there's more to love in this collection than that tune. So go get it. It's tasty, filling and naughty like fried chicken. You'll pat your belly a bit, then get up to get down.

2. I can babble about Bearsuit until the banjo playin' bears take off their skins and repair to their favorite local Orlando dive. So I control myself and pipe in about them now and again, just to remind you how great they are. Sometimes their songs are fierce, fun and fast like the fabulous Chargr. Sometimes, like on Your Special Day, which is available to download here, they are fantastical islets where flutes appear in the form of bluebirds flying in a heart formation and the harmonies are sweet and warm. The ending refrain which is adorned with all of the above as well as what sounds like determinedly pizzicato'd violas** is so charming that it might make the more rockist among you want to plan a mass murder***. Those who like their glockenspiels light will bop their head, smile and dream of the day when Bearsuit will finally come play America. One summer, kids. One summer. Just not this one. (Sniff)

3. As some of you know I like monkeys. They amuse me to no end. So when I'm bored I'll often google the word and this is how I came across The Arctic Monkeys. These British boys provide funny, little social vignettes in pop punk form that don't come with irritating eye-winking and elbows to the rib. They know you get it and they respect that but it's much more important to them that you FEEL it. Go to their site, find the music section, download I Bet You look Good On The Dance Floor. Jump along to it. Or do the robot if you MUST be arch. Then go and have a frozen banana milkshake. Repeat the next day.

4. I talked up the Nine Black Alps single Cosmopolitan here. Luckily for NYC, not only will you be able to catch them at Siren if you are crowd + relentless sun inclined BUT if you are not, they are also playing The Mercury Lounge next Tuesday July 19 just in time to coincide with a USA-only introductory EP. 7:30 show, nice andearly. You down? I'm down. Let's go.

5. Some time ago, in this Soft Communication post, elusive Contributor Dan recommended that we all go to anti-folk songstress Diane Cluck's website and download the song Easy To Be Around from her album O Vanille**** and get it stuck in our heads immediately. Short post. No why's, just do's. I did. Wow.

I am not the model of brevity. No. I am the picture, the photograph, the etching of long-windedness. I'll tell you I too, could not stop, in fact have not stopped listening to this song. Especially of late, like yesterday as I made my way home after a rough day of work & correspondence. It worked its magic and I was succored.

The song starts innocently enough with the simple but oddly gorgeous "I was in the coalmine picking up diamonds that the miners had left behind". Somehow or another as the song progresses, her double, then triple, then quadruple-tracked vocals quaver and shine like raindrops caught in a spiderweb that dazzle the eyes with reflected light. She turns and twists the vocal melody so that it falls into unexpected dissonant shadows and swoops back up into brightness. Standing in contrast is the strumming of her guitar which she plays in hard, percussive downward slashes; a welcome respite from the usual and also a subtle way of making you listen more closely. Lyrically the song appears to be a paean of contentedness albeit one that never sounds cloying or trite or ignorant of change but is still somehow, just utterly blissful. Another number I never, ever want to end. I could play it and play in it for a long time with quiet stupefied joy.

So yeah, what Dan said. Go hear the song.

Love, D

* For a man who claims to be legally blind, Collins has unerring ability to spot the most bust-tacular woman in the audience and thank her...for dancing. It would be almost skeevy if he wasn't so earnestly grateful.

** Violas? I don't know. It could be violins I suppose though the range seems a bit low. Listen to it. Get back to me. Correct me if I'm wrong.

*** Thanks Moz!

**** O Vanille can be purchased by contacting Diane Cluck through her website.

Songs to seek: Brand New Game/The Dirtbombs, Your Special Day/Bearsuit, I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor/The Arctic Monkeys, Easy To Be Around/Diane Cluck

Labels: , , , ,

Everything Old is New Again

Hullo m'friends!

Back from Florida! We did Disney and Disney did us. Does anyone know if kimchi goes bad? I came home and found no apples so I attacked this jar of pickled cabbage that I am sure is months old. Tastes awesome, I pray it does not prove toxic.

So I'm walking down the exit tunnel at Pavonia Newport when this wiry Adonis next to me removes his shirt and breaks into a jog. Just couldn't wait until he was outside to maintain his skeletal tan. I was vaguely paying attention when Kuchibashi ni Cherry by Ego Wrappin came up on my Ipod. I have an imagination that works when I don't need it to. Something about over the top kitschy swing made his retreat hilarious in my mind. Then again, swing was designed to make me laugh. It's feel-good music concentrate. When I first heard Ego' Wrappin, I thought they were covering the theme song to Japan's most famed manga playboy Lupin III.

One of Japan's earliest enka* idols, Misora Hibari, also took to jazz, swing and salsa in the forties. She is credited as being Japan's sweetheart during the postwar depression. One of her biggest hits, Omatsuri Mambo, sounds like something Danny Kaye would have bounced to. This leaves me to ponder what kind of overblown inhuman chipperness one needs to alleviate devestation of that proportion. And she didn't even have the benefit of T&A! No wonder she got a fucking museum.

The Japanese have a profound respect for nostalgia and Showa era swing has seen an enthused comeback on Japan's pop charts. Ego Wrappin are just youngsters from Osaka (Kansai). Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Pizzicatto Five have also relied heavily on American retro. Huge as Tokyo Ska Paradise (Skapara for short) is, I prefer them in collaboration. The first time I encountered Skapara, they had just released a single with L'arc En Ciel called 4th Avenue Cafe.

Now L'arc's lead singer, Hyde, is an example of a Japanese man I cannot listen to. I know he's the neko's meow and whatever but I can't help it if all I hear when he opens his mouth is mrrrrrow mew meow. However, through Skapara's influence I managed to overcome my distaste for Hyde and 4th Ave became one of two L'arc songs I could listen to without fighting back bile. Some people have a hard time disliking when Skapara gets involved. Takashi, bartender and ex-floozy, initially gave Shiina Ringo's (shutup) first two albums a lukewarm response. He turned his nose up at every dissertation I handed him. No amount of enforced listening, piercing argument or spittle-inducing fits would sway his high-falutin ass.

"She's too shiny!" He'd complain.

"You say that like it's a bad thing." I pouted. Takashi preferred his sentiments, rock music and living space coated in a fine layer of dust. Then Ringo put out Mayonaka wa Junketsu. (Midnight is Pure)

"Skapara sugeei!" (Skapara awesome!) said he in his dirty Kansai accent. Not that you should take a crusty Osakajin's word for it but the old man did cave for the "shiny".

My favorite Skapara collaboration is Kanariya Naku Sora (Sky Without Canaries) with vocals by Thee Michelle Gun Elephant's Chiba Yosuke. There's little middle ground with Yosuke. You either love his voice or hate it. Me, I've got it bad for that no good greaser. He sings with an hysterical passion unconcerned for liver and lungs. He smokes too much. Drinks too much. Asks too rarely. Somehow the union works. Yusuke's garage rock tude and Skapara's forties swing. Lest it be forgotten swing was the fuck all of its generation. When your taste in music could still earn you a warrent.

On an utterly unrelated note, one of my future coworkers* in Japan directed me to a Blankey Jet City cover by a late 80's UK group I have never heard of known as Snuff. They sound (to me) like Green Day singing Sweet Days. Their Japanese sucks but they're playing too loud to notice. Why am I titilated? Because whitey attacking Nihongo is the awesome.

*Traditional Japanese bath house music. Akin to country or the blues. What old people get drunk and reminisce to.

*This same coworker recently sent me a video of himself sitting in what will soon be my classroom performing "Stand By Me". Yes, I think. Yes.

Labels: ,


all of your willing dimensions

dear friends,

firstly, go to contributor mike's blog, scroll down to the saturday, july 9 entry & wish him a happy belated birthday.

secondly, I will rip a page out of contributor jeremiah's live blog review post book & attempt to listen to & write my immediate thoughts on stephen malkmus' new album face the truth.

thirdly, this is where magazines insert stuff like "full disclosure" - I was a pavement insano. I wrote a sestina about them that's somewhere on the matador records web site, I went to many of their shows with that wild eyed look mouthing nonsense about "wave your credit card in the air" & yes, I was one of those idiots who would scream "conduit for sale!" just because I could when really, I just wanted to hear strings of nashville but they we're never gonna play that. when pavement dissolved, I found that all the middle of the road tendencies that singer/guitarist/mastermind stephen malkmus had been quietly cultivating like bonsais had borne tiny fruit & it was called stephen malkmus & the jicks. still a good writer, still plays good but gosh, it's so tidy. so clean. so perfect for the windows. & the ones that make them - such nice people!

let me make something really clear. malk & the jicks will never be coldplay. I don't mean that particular kind of lifestyle music so don't throw that cabbage just yet. malk's middle of the road is still far better than most. besides, I can completely understand that post pavement, he wanted to play with others & those others had to play like real musos. unfortunately this newfound maturity seemed to exclude fun. & I don't mean that the songs' subject matter wasn't fun (like I pay attention to subject matter! HA! please. that would make me a real music writer instead of a nut with opinions ranting in the wilderness of blogdom) but that there was no longer any sense that the music could go anywhere at any given time & there was no way of knowing when that would be. on your toes, all the time song experience. I loved that about pavement & I missed that wondrous sense of surprise. but I'm no hater. everybody's got to grow up. or go through a change to come back to something in a purer form. huh? I think you know what I mean.

so I heard that this album was done in malk's home studio. this cheered me somewhat. maybe the home situation would lead to more off the cuff loosey-goosiness. let's get to it, shall we?

1. pencil rot - static radio/guitar in ironic copulation. with body farts. then malk comes in sounding...nasally & playful. there seems to be actual attempts at singing. is that back-up singing or keyboards? lovely leather bound boy? is that what he's singing??? I love this man.

it just went from a weird rap into a nursery rhyme reprimand in falsetto. I think I need more coffee to catch up with the rest of what's going on.

2. it kills - this right here is what I like to call "joust rock". whenever I hear this type of thing, I always imagine the bands/artists in question as disgruntled & stoned renaissance fair workers planning a walk-out.

the truth is that this is probably how malkmus most directly sorts out his fairport convention jones. I find it rather lovely despite the occasional jarring guitar skronk. ah but then the skronk fully blooms into malkmusian splendor. he is one of my favorite guitarists in the world because no one can make a mistake sound so good or turn mistakes into genius "I did that on purpose" flights of soloing.

points to anyone who spots the five seconds of rod stewart's do ya think I'm sexy?.

3. I've hardly been - this sounds like some other song...which?* something latin. with hats & guns & rose accented ladies. 'cept the...eh chorus (?!) is just a cut & paste bit of weirdness seemingly put in for collaging purposes. I'll probably tire of this one.

I hear an egg shaker.

the minute before the end is faboo, it's like the drum kicks in as well as the booze & then everybody lurches to the floor taking the keyboard with them. or is "everyone" really just malk playing all instruments? hmmm...

(runs to look for credits listing)

4. freeze the saints - ah, the beautiful "I'm not a yuppie" (yes, you are! you ski! & wear northface parkas! I saw you playing with your expensive cell phone on the f train! ha!) love ballad. I'm not kidding, despite the summer house-ness of it all, I love this stuff.

only malk would find it a charming display of open-ness to ask a lady to help him "languish here". wow. he must really like her (said in my pre-diction class accent). or the gent he's pretending to be really, really likes her.

my favorite lyric in terms of delivery #2 - "done is good, done well is so much fucking better".

5. loud cloud crowd - simon & garfunkel! tres earnest. & vaguely patriotic. why do I think this? is there an americana chord? wait a minute, malk is being earnest? pink floyd reunited? are these the signs of a rock apocalypse? what's next?!?**

6. no more shoes - rhiaaaaaanon! "...rings like a bell through the night & wouldn't you love to love her". that's stevie not stephen but that's what this song sounded like when it started. I got so excited at the prospect of rhiannon being covered by malk that I was almost disappointed when he started singing something else. I said almost.

ok, how excellent is it when he says "getcha back" & gets down with the guitar in a short, but satisfyingly dirty little blast. & then walks away. & then comes back. & gets all spacey with a delicious delirium that makes me wanna do drugs, worship the moon, become president & buy my own island where this would blare out of speakers hidden in the trees during the harvest months. yes, everything. all at once.

in my head this monster solo is very "what? you want some of this? well, I'll give it to you." of course, in malk's head it was probably, "I need to pick up some polenta for dinner...maybe some basil". this is why it's a good idea to keep fans far from their obscure objects of admiration.

there's a "chikka chikka" moment in it! pan & scan earphone vocals! I'm way too excited about this.

I need more coffee.

7. mama - sanity returns. this song is cute as a button the way indie likes to be sometimes. is this malk's attempt to do madness' our house (sepia toned childhood recollection cum pop song) 'cept maybe, unlike them, it's not his childhood he's rhapsodizing about? sounds like it. I find it hard to buy the lyrics about growing up poor but there was LOVE. though I do see him on a hobby horse. then again, he's so set in stone as a sardonic smart ass in my mind that picturing an innocent little stephen is sorta of difficult. malkie: the unironic years - a brand new comic by daniel cloves.

on a side note, anyone looking to be seriously depressed, go watch anthony pelissier's the rocking horse winner.

I like the drumming on this, it's like a cantering horse. dressed in silks. medieval silks. yeah...

8. kindling for the master - this is the kind of song that will get dudes that hate disco to inadvertently twitch their behinds & when they do, they'll look around anxiously hoping that no one's noticed. then they'll think about rod stewart's hot pink spandex pants from those blonds have more fun days.

9. post-paint boy - "relationships, hey hey hey" - sounds just like that. 'cept it has the lines "trade up with a thicker skin" & "penny rich & dollar dumb" which are the sorta off of the top of his nogging shit that makes me light votive candles.

after a brief interlude of what sounded like the theme to dark shadows, it's back to the a/b, a/b major leagues thing that is exactly what I can't keep in my head or heart. nice & cleverer than most but I'm not swooning into the moors. & swooning into the moors WEARING AN ERMINE & SATIN CAPE is what I demand from this man. harsh, I know. but that is what a fanbase can be like. evil hordes of over-expectant bastards wanting to drain you of your blood. hey! like dark shadows' barnabas collins! maybe that's the subconscious reference. I think the caffeine is getting to me.

10. baby c'mon - I adore this song because I love cock rock. if I had a show on tv & it was all about a myopic, ill tempered scold with bad teeth who avoids the phone & makes all the special guest stars listen to her ranting whenever they stop by & it was called "everyone thinks d is really odd" or some such, this would be the theme song. it's like this sloppy call to arms shouted from the back of a pick-up truck by someone who's never been on the back of a pick-up truck much less shouted from one.

my favorite lyric in terms of delivery #1 "so you say that you're too old to yell but too young for hell"

9. malediction - this one always goes by without my retaining anything about it. let me listen to it again. yup. same thing. s'alright, I guess. the goodness had to end eventually.



so yeah, can't you tell what I'm saying here? despite the limp to home plate finish, this album is one to purchase. so do so. malk needs to go to another weekend wine tour. why deny him? he deserves that fine pinot gris!

love, d

* anyone who can figure out what this sounds EXACTLY like wins a mix on the theme of their choice.

** anyone who comes up with the third credible sign of the rock & roll apocalypse also wins a mix on the theme of their choice.

songs to seek: it kills, freeze the saints, no more shoes, baby c'mon


"Death By Stereo"

Alex Winters, star of MTV’s “Idiot Box,” the “Bill and Ted" movies and that 80’s horror/comedy classic that gave us both Coreys best work to date, “The Lost Boys” was quoted in an interview around the time of the release of the movie in ’86 as saying-

“Always remain in focus, have a very definite understanding of what your values and beliefs are, and don't go off that track for any reason, or you're lost.”

I keep these words on a plaque above my computer in my office (it’s a ¾ cubicle really), and never had these words had more resonance and meaning then when I read Daniella’s post from two days ago calling me out on my lack of postings to this “blog.” For those of you who forget or who are just joining us I have posted it here for you…

3. in an attempt to single out & shame our contributorship (always a GREAT idea), I would like to note that would-be contributor gregg has been promising to write about one of his favorite songs from a movie, a little ditty called cry little sister (thou shalt not...) from that california vampire classic, the lost boys. perhaps we can shame him into finally writing it. come on. you know you want to.*

Never one to back down from a challenge, especially when my penchant for cheese (an Achilles heel), is exposed and being well versed in the intricacies of SHAME I have no choice but to consider the proverbial gauntlet thrown and must defend the honor of what is apparently my “favorite song from a movie” Consider the line toed.

First Riddle Me This:
What original songs have other vampire movies given us over the last 20 years?
Blade- none of note
Interview With The Vampire-none of note
Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula- none of note
Vampire Hunter D- none of note
Buffy The Vampire Layer/Muffy the Vampire Layer- unfortunately…none of note

“Cry Little Sister” (Thou Shall Not), far from being my favorite song from a movie and far from being the greatest movie soundtrack song in the history of movie soundtrack songs may hold title to being the greatest song from a vampire movie soundtrack. Much better than Bach’s clichéd and tired Toccata & Fugue in D minor that was associated with the aristocratic euro-trash sensibilities of Bram Stoker's Dracula for countless decades and became the standard “vamp song," “Cry Little Sister’s” brilliance is not in the lyrics, which are sophomoric at best and riddled with incestuous undertones, but rather in a certain irony it possesses that captures the vision that director Joel Schumacher had for the film and what he and (Lost Boys) ultimately brought to the vampire mythology as a whole. Bear with me...

What Joel Schumacher did with vampires in the film “Lost Boys” was create something totally original that at the same time enjoyed a time-honored tradition. So his Vampires are both classical-vampiric and original. Schumacher’s Vampires have the power of altering reality (David makes Michael think he is eating maggots and worms) Vampires have ultra healing powers- Holy Water and a stake through the heart still kill them but…Garlic doesn’t work. They don’t sleep in coffins, they hang upside down like bats. Full-fledged vampires cannot go out in sunlight but vampire initiates can as long as they wear shades. Schumacher was the first to exploit vampires flying in human form. Before The Lost Boys, vampires turned into bats or mist (who can forget the chilling scene where they all leap into the mist as “Thou Shall Not Kill” reverberates in our ears!!!), to be able to fly. The Lost Boys has the climactic fight between Michael and David occurring in mid air, this was the first film to use such effects. In order to become a vampire initiate you need to drink a vampire’s blood (Michael does so from a wine bottle) but in order to become a full vampire you must also make a first kill. No biting necessary.

“Cry Little Sister” embodies this mixture of honoring the classic tradition while at the same time forging new ground. A straight up rock ballad that uses a boys choir as back up to its full hauntingly, chilling effect. Both the song and the movie are directed at a teenage audience, entrenched in youth culture and full of teen angst. That is it’s appeal- it captures perfectly the emotional problems of the teen characters in the film as well as being both funny and tense.

P.S. I would also like to point out that Echo and the Bunnymen do a good cover of the Doors' "People Are Strange"and Roger Daltrey does an equally fine cover of Elton Johns' "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me".

can't keep track of each fallen robin

dear friends,

it's been a grim day. grim news. grim weather. I am looking at disaster photos & feeling that awful, embarrassing, all too human "thank god it wasn't me" or "anyone I know" or "thank god it wasn't here". I wonder how long that can hold up.

on a less terrifying & mundane note, I am looking for assistance... I would like to have a concert listings area on the side of the page. how do I do this? anyone, anyone?

in honor of contributor tina, go here for a photo of a pony. I'm sure he's very strong.

speaking of assistance, here are a few songs people have put on mixes for me that I then listened to over & over again. since it takes me a few thousand YEARS to digest mixes you'll forgive me if there's not much in the way of recent. it is not chronological.

1. a girl named katie made me a mix once that had a song called can't find my way home by blind faith. an unearthly, beautiful falsetto vocal flies like a kestrel over acoustic guitar pickings. the voice sings the opening lines "come down off your throne/& leave your body alone" with such authority that it almost sounds like it means something. I researched & discovered that blind faith was not only a short-lived supergroup (!) but that the incredible singer was none other than steve winwood (!!!) of bring me a higher love fame (which was the only song of his that I knew at the time. shoulder pads & chaka. all the way, baby). I just couldn't believe that steve winwood could sing with such subtlety & be so relaxed & groovy. I also remember all this grooviness made me worry that I was gonna become a hippie or something but thankfully, that moment passed.

interestingly, when I bumped into katie, years later, I thanked her for putting that song on my mix. she did not recognize the title or remember the song even after I sang it to her for a few endless minutes on a cold street corner. like a jackass.

2. years ago, I prodded & poked my friend jefe into making me a mix which was so good I wound up making a song by song mix in response*. lotsa new discoveries on that one but my favorite was definitely robyn hitchcock's raining twilight coast which is a song that sounds like rain falling on car windows & feels like the saddest of loves (& keys?). when hitchcock tremulously croaks "see, I'm a fish baabyyyyy" I don't laugh. I can't laugh. it just sounds so gorgeous.

3. another friend, I'll call her q, whose mother always looked at me like I was a dirty third world child that was gonna steal the silverware & soil the carpets**, made me a mix which included a song by a fella called leonard cohen. I'd never heard him sing but I had read one of his poems in the norton's poetry anthology & I thought the line about touching someone's "perfect body with your mind"*** was very stupid. my teenage self was not amused.

however as soon as the song, chelsea hotel #2, started playing, I was hooked by cohen's deep, deep as underwater rivers voice. & that, thankfully, the intimate & rich lyrics had no perfect bodies marring the 23rd st. landscape. he sang about some girl he slept with at the chelsea hotel but the memory is somewhat muted by their mutual ambivalence, despite their afternoon delight. someone told me this song was about janis joplin, which surprised me since I figured that a lesbian sleeping with a man would choose a different sort than a depressed, nicotine stained canadian with a basso profundo voice & a notebook full of scribblings. then again, cohen does say "you told me again you preferred handsome men/but for me you would make an exception." now, that's MY kind of poetry.

4. contributor pete made a christmas mix that included a song by the left banke called pretty ballerina. they are usually known for their oldies staple walk away renee which is a beautiful song destroyed by too much inappropriate air play. what the hell is that, you ask? oh. the waiting room at the dentist. a muzak version at the supermarket. so on & so on.

pretty ballerina starts with the musical equivalent of a pirouette; the piano spins & spins around a touchingly hesitant vocal about a dream woman who winds up being very much that.

5. I once dated a boy who fell neatly into the BAD NEWS section of boyfriend-dom. & I, in turn, fell neatly into the BIG SUCKER category. needless to say, hilarity did not ensue. he gave me a mix once & since he was a rather uncommunicative sort of chap, I looked for messages in the songs. one of them, I can't see your face in my mind by the doors seemed especially telling. the song's merits soon outweighed any portent & it became a frequent bus ride favorite. it's the sort of song that made me wish I was more of a musician so I could properly describe the weeping woman guitar playing underneath the atypically understated morrison vocal. & the back & forth switches from groove to quiet. go hear it. iz nice.

I must go clean my biopsy wound. betcha haven't heard that one today! as another song goes, to all of you, "I wish you love".

love, d

* I called it a mirror mix & it took me a gazillion drafts & I still wound up screwing up the sleeve notes. have we ever discussed my nerdiness? we really should.

** q's mother actually went so far as to give me a lecture on returning things before q could lend me a time-life's guide to supernatural america book. naturally, I kept it, thieving minority that I am. I love to give the people what they want.

*** suzanne & her perfect body is considered a classic. & really, who am I to judge the pretty, pretty words?

songs to seek: can't find my way home/blind faith, raining twilight coast/robyn hitchcock, chelsea hotel #2/leonard cohen, pretty ballerina/the left banke,I can't see your face in my mind/the doors


The Dredge Report

The subject's been done to death and back to zombie life and then to death again, so I don't really have to get into a whole speil about how the iPod changes how a person accumulates music. Basically, the thing is that I'll pick up tracks here and there from MP3 blogs or Limewire, and since I didn't go through the trouble of buying an album or anything, I forget that I downloaded the song, and it gets lost. The other thing that could happen is that some dude could decide to dump 1,500 songs on to my device one day, and I end up in a situation where I've got hundreds of songs at my fingertips that I've maybe never even listened to once. So that brings me to perhaps the most boring music writing activity known to new media: the shuffle report.

To make a long story short, here is some good music I've come across on the pod that I didn't know I had, and so didn't research in the same meticulous way that I do for, say, the geneology of a Dischord release. So, in the spirit of high Greenbergian modernism*, these reviews are more or less devoid of any contextualization. Just impressions about some songs.

I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness, "Your Worst Is Your Best": In contrast to an unfortunately unweildy and melodramatic band name, this is a tightly crafted indie rock tune, replete with cometing guitar and vibe (xylophone?) arpeggios. It's got a gentle, driving beat with that soft, yet raspy snare sound that, in itself, makes me think of a military ceremony. All in all, a bittersweet song that would serve well playing over the end credits of a comfortably hip romantic drama.

Xiu Xiu, "I Luv The Valley OH": Honestly, I kept seeing Xiu Xiu CDs at Other Music and thought that maybe they were one of those bands that everybody in the know was supposed to know. So I used the internet to steal their songs, and then never really bothered to give them a good listen. This song starts out normally enough as a little bass and guitar number that sound almost like something off the Reality Bites soundtrack. But then you get these peaked-out, unhinged vocals that make you feel like you're listeing in on tapes of Robert Smith during some kind of schizophrenic episode. That, combined with some richly textural electronics, make this a really interesting listen - and I don't mean "interesting" as a euphemism for weird and unlistenable. It's catchy, too.

Liz Phair, "Batmobile": This one doesn't really fit with the theme, as I do have this album (Juvenilia), but I had forgotten about it for years, and just came across it again. Let's not dwell on the fact that Phair's recent output has been a huge, stinking pile of crap. Fact is, there is more to the good Liz Phair than just Exile in Guyville. Whip-Smart, and especially Juvenilia are worth listening to in their entirety. This lo-fi gem is a little bit indie, a little bit folksy, and has got some really great vocal harmonies. It demonstrates her conversational mode of songwriting that can be refreshingly unassuming.

And on a similar note: Have people been talking about the new White Stripes album? I used to really really like the White Stripes, but I don't think I could find a better illustration of a band with a distinctly inverse proportion of noteriety and quality. I understand and sympathize with people who say that even their first two albums were just a ripped-off sythesis of delta blues and Led Zep, but nonetheless, those songs fucking rock. Sure, White Blood Cells and Elephant both had their ups and downs, but the vast majority of the shit off of Get Behind Me Satan (incidentally, a really good album title) might as well be Ben Folds Five or something. Really, horribly, deathly boring. Will D have something conciliatory to say here?

*As if that could be more of a joke on a collectively written, hyperlink-heavy music weblog. But whatever, Greenberg was full of shit anyway.

the work of an errant heel

When I was packing up for college lo those many years ago, my father sat me down and gave me this sage advice:

"You know, Mike, if the guys in your dorm are watching a football game, just watch the damn game."

I was not an athletic youth, nor was I particularly popular. I probably would've conformed in high school if only I could have figured out how. I didn't even fit in amongst the school nerds - I was hopeless at fantasy gaming, didn't know enough Monty Python to quote along, and didn't read enough sci-fi. My dad was not particularly a sports fan either. I don't remember him ever watching a game on TV, though he once took me to a Mets game. I think he was just, in his typically misguided way, trying to help me fit in for once.

Once at college, I actually tried to take my dad's advice. But despite my admittedly halfhearted efforts, I could not force myself to be interested in any of the varsity teams. When my dormmates gathered around the TV for Monday Night Football, they never invited me, knowing I wouldn't be interested. Once I got a show at the college radio station and started writing for the newspaper, I dropped the notion entirely.

But what if I'd made a real effort to be a jock? What if, say, I'd actually made the football team in high school, only to blow it entirely?

This is the scenario of the Decemberists' "The Sporting Life," from their latest album, Picaresque. It's one of the best songs I've heard this year. Usually I find Colin Meloy's voice and seafaring themes hard to take in large doses. However, "The Sporting Life" is an absolute gem, a Freaks and Geeks or Wes Anderson tragicomic story set to music.

"The Sporting Life" plays out from the perspective of a teenage footballer who's just been felled in front of the whole school. He'd managed to "avoid humiliation" up to now, which I interpret to mean he'd successfully dodged being called up to play. Now, lying on the field, possibly crippled, he thinks back to how he got here in the first place. He thinks of his father, who "had such hopes/for a son who would take the ropes/and fulfill his old athletic aspirations.../but apparently now there's some complications." That last line is delivered in a deliciously bitter tone. He looks around and sees his disappointed father, his mortified coach, and - uh oh - his girlfriend "arm in arm with the captain of the other team." The crowd is deafeningly silent.

Here we have the most embarrassing experience of this young man's life. He tried and he blew it. So how do the Decemberists tell his story? With a jaunty, carefree melody and acoustic shuffle falling somewhere between the Smiths' "This Charming Man" and the Jam's "Town Called Malice." The whole feel of the song suggests a bright, sunny morning and the promise of a new day. What could have been depressing instead sounds sweetly nostalgic, like thumbing through old yearbooks, laughing at your funny clothes and hair, and feeling grateful you've reached another place in life.


don't call the doctor, call the police

dear friends,

having spent the last few days meowing piteously because I had an allergic reaction to something (insect repellant? bat guano? florida itself?) & was covered in HIVES. HIVES! I looked like the freakin' THING & it wasn't pretty. luckily, the monkey seems to think I'm ok even when I'm a different color & my hands & feet are swollen & that's love, for REALS.

(complicated hand gestures to show how street I am & bring the above paragraph to a close)

1. go read contributor liz's post about pulp here. it explains exactly why a song should be listened to as opposed to writing "it's awesome!" repeatedly which is something I try to avoid. but sometimes I'm weak & can't spell & the awesomeness returns. I'm sorry.

2. ween offers delicious ways to brighten up the office atmosphere. my friend paige once made me a complicated & personal* ween mix which I like to listen to at work so that when my boss comes out & hands me pages & pages of sheets with names & numbers on them, he takes a moment to stop. listen. crack his ankles. & look very, very puzzled.

go seek it's gonna be a long night from their quebec cd. the kind of song that would be taken as a serious party anthem by rapists & killers. you might just think it's funny. I certainly do.

3. in an attempt to single out & shame our contributorship (always a GREAT idea), I would like to note that would-be contributor gregg has been promising to write about one of his favorite songs from a movie, a little ditty called cry little sister (thou shalt not...) from that california vampire classic, the lost boys. perhaps we can shame him into finally writing it. come on. you know you want to.

speaking of great movie songs & bringing it back to above's number 1, one of my favorites is like a friend by pulp written for the soundtrack to alfonso cuaron's great expectations. pulp's lead singer & lyricist, jarvis cocker, who has a tendency to sound so arch it hurts, actually seems shattered in this song. he lists all the things this particular friend is to him ("you are the habit I can't seem to kick/you are my secrets on the front page every week") with the resignation of a man who knows he'll still be blowing off others just to be near her. very pip/estella**. good work, mr. cocker.

4. a great number for the summer months is a tune called bug by vic chesnutt from an album called west of rome which really quite strong in general. like a pony almost***, that's how strong. chesnutt is a poet, a wastrel & a rueful scamp. these things are useful in singer/songwriters. plus he's got a voice that's quavery & damp; if kudzu could sing, it would be him. anywho, I've had this line from the song stuck in my head for the past two weeks, "when the buuuuug hits, that's the time to scratch it", then I scratch away & feel at peace. for five seconds. until it's time to scratch again.

5. dot allison's wishing stone is a dreamy acoustic early morning after doing some VERY BAD DRUGS. she repeats "you're bleeding faster" in a detached almost-whisper as the strums get stronger & a xylophone sounding synth line spins around your head until you throw up. no seriously, this is a good thing.

ah, fuck it. go listen to it. it's awesome, ok? awesome, awesome, awesome!

tons of work to catch up to.

love, d

songs to seek: it's gonna be a long night/ween, like a friend/pulp, bug/vic chesnutt, wishing stone/dot allison

* complicated because it had extensive liner notes WHICH I HAVE SINCE LOST. AH! so I don't know which song is which & personal because she is a true ween nut & a single artist mix compiled by a superfan is invaluable.

** characters in charles dickens' great expectations. look, I can't assume everyone's read it. I love boz, don't mean you do.

*** thank you eddie izzard for the pony reference. you make me laugh & provide me with nostalgic chuckles about stairways of death & boys being chased by sharky-sharkies. one day we shall have a drink & you will find me terribly dull & almost mute but I will still think of you fondly. like a capri sunset viewed from an outdoor cafe.