11.29.2005

when I can show you my affection

dear friends,

I'm going to point some fingers today as 1) got tons o' work (can you believe it? it happens!) & 2) I'm tired & finger pointin's the best I can do.

1. contributor travis wrote about the song trains by nashville ramblers on november 9th on his blog (& handily put it up for download, how DOES one do that?). you can see the direct chalk line on the blackboard leading from them to guided by voices with this track. it shares that foggy vocal power pop with a hint of melancholy under all the aaaah's feel. really lovely.

2. wellington ladies welfare league is one of the few local punk bands that manages to recreate that special music made by miscreants vibe that's sorely missing from today's version of punk. go listen to libertine age on their my space page & try & imagine the spittle flying past. for those who don't like that at all...did I mention there's a cowbell?

3. the fatales aren't fronted by a woman who is gonna break your heart & leave you with nothing but a jaded voiceover narration to show for it. that's okay though 'cause these boys are striving to provide the soundtrack for that type of cinematic seduction instead. go here to hear to enjoy the moody jangle noir of darkened country. the fatales play rothko on 12/13.

4. voxtrot's the start of something is like this charming man if that song's protagonist had a less sexually bewildered twin. got that? fancy a bouncy stroll along the no longer desolate hillside where there's a kiss in it for you during the instrumental bridge. go to their my space page to hear the tune. voxtrot plays mercury lounge 12/7, go give 'em a nice nyc welcome.

5. thanks to contributor phil posting about songs used in adverts, I just want to let you all know that I really, really want that chan marshall version of hanging on the telephone that I heard in a cell phone commercial. if any of you ever hear about it being made available somewhere, give us a jangle.

love, d

songs to seek: trains/nashville ramblers, libertine age/wellington ladies welfare league, darkened country/the fatales, the start of something/voxtrot, hanging on the telephone/chan marshall

11.23.2005

the pope & the silver castle

dear friends,

thanksgiving weekend! days off! days off!

for you in other countries where thanksgiving is huh?, t-day is not a day about pilgrims & indians. don't let the marketing fool ya. no. it is the thursday in november where everyone has an excuse to gorge themselves until they pass out, clutching a drumstick, with a trail of gravy drool on their tranquil faces. how great is that? an eating holiday! no gifts necessary!

as for the dark side of thanksgiving, you know the whole, give us food, nice natives & we'll give you blankets, slightly used, thing? that's usually not so much on the menu. being 30% mapuche indian myself, I look forward to the sole media mention, usually "a hey, remember those people? we're sorry, let's eat!" editorial. sad, eh? buffy the vampire slayer did an excellent thanksgiving episode where the ghosts of indians came back to kill whitey for decimating them. buffy felt conflicted about the whole thing, they have a right to be murderous after all, but she destroys them anyway because as everyone's favorite bleach blond vampire, spike, points out, "that's what conquerors do." as in, they annihilate. man, I miss that show. it was pointed. like a pointer.

anywho, this immigrant does believe in the thank you part of t-day as well as the eating part, so thank you people who read, comment & write here. I like you. you are nice. keep the recommendations comin', in the comments or in the posting. I ain't choosy.

so yeah, I think I've been watching more telly than listening to music lately SO because I am work hours busy & time off lazy, here's a playlist for you of 24 songs courtesy of the little monkey ipod set on random, with absolutely NO explanatory remarks (well, hardly any anyway). should YOU have any comments about these songs, as in "you listen to THAT?" or "this song makes me think of playing ping pong with griffins", then hop to it!

1. what I'm trying to say/stars
2. cinderella backstreet/peter laughner
3. temptation inside your heart/the velvet underground
4. in this hole/cat power
5. let's get lost (live)/elliott smith
6. the same old rock/roy harper
7. the get a way/pretty girls make graves
8. within you, without you/sonic youth
9. aganju/bebel gilberto
10. I'm not angry/elvis costello
11. where there's woman/captain beefheart
12. do it all over again/spiritualized
13. cadence & cascade/king crimson (someone's been adding the flute rock to my ipod, I swear)
14. strings of nashville/pavement
15. sobredosis de tv/soda stereo
16. epilogue/most serene republic
17. do you love me?/nick cave
18. the razor dance (electric)/richard thompson
19. I'm that type of guy/ll cool j
20. cloudberries/super furry animals
21. gold/spandau ballet (YES! HA HA HA! this song is truly my one admitted guilty pleasure. it's so AWFUL, it's brilliant!)
22. baby stick around/joe jackson
23. terrible things/beauty pill
24. little bird/the white stripes

tomorrow, while I make mashed winter squash, bacon & thyme potatoes au gratin, cornish hens stuffed with wild rice & walnuts & a radish, celery, spring onion, boston & romaine lettuce salad, the monkey shall be putting up the mp3's (plus a special bonus track! fancy!) as well as his track by track response for the delayed but finally finished guitarmy project on his site. wish us luck! & have a happy holiday weekend!

love, d

A Random Thort

My contribution to last weekend's MiG recording was fueled by a potent aural blend of Joy Division and Fleetwood Mac. I feel that's the perfect combination. Just like sweet apples and sharp cheddar cheese. Plus they'd have covered each other's songs nicely. I can definitely see Ian Curtis spazzing his severe way through "The Chain" - and we may still be able to convince Stevie to add a velvet touch to "Leaders of Men." That would fucking rule.

On another note, psychedelic gadfly and stage conversationist extraordinaire Genesis P-Orridge wrote an early tribute song to Mr. Curtis (who was apparently supposed to have been a part of Psychic TV) entitled "I.C. Water". Get it? "I.C." - Ian Curtis ... "I See Water" ... or "Icy Water". Say what you will about Mr./Ms. G.P-O, he/she knows how to title a damn song. Unlike my band.

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11.18.2005

while the canary sings

dear friends,

I've been a sick, sick-seroo & amazingly, it has nothing to do with my legs or spine. it's just an honest to goodness cold. how refreshing! I've been drinking theraflu like it's bathtub gin, watching now, voyager for the umpteenth time & talking to myself a LOT because my voice is so damn sexy right now & sometimes, sometimes, I get lonely. call me up, I'll nasally whisper nerdy nothings to you. things like "the tailies got the crappy hatch & a glass eye" & "mr. darcy will always be hunky 'cause he don't say much" & "I'm out of printer ink, help!". I'm so WILD.

sarcasm & dorkiness aside, because of the sickness*, I haven't done much in the way of new music searching but I have been trolling my space looking for interesting bands to listen to that I haven't heard of or met before. some of them have been kind enough to allow their my space visitors to download a song or two. & that is good, 'cause I don't know about you, but the best time for me to listen to music in a snake-charmed way, is on my headphones, travelling to & from work. somehow, listening to it at my desk, on my crappy computer speakers doesn't quite cut it.

so go here & check out these folk:

1. the avatars' wait now plays like personality crisis by the new york dolls, only this time instead of a scary man in platforms & lipstick, you get a sassy double tracked lady vocal. like a cute & sullen but secretly sensitive girl at the fairground working her way through her cotton candy & your heart.

2. summer lawns are not from the uk. yet the shimmering hues & shades that adorn their songs-as-landscapes are much more like the sounds made by some of our friends across the pond than the current nyc point & flash polaroid rock offerings. don't get me wrong, I love the latter as well, but sometimes when you're walking down the cold streets, the soundtrack you seek is something more layered, less 1-2-3, something you can keep looking at, or in this case, listening to, until you get lost in it. go check out piano song.

3. pink noise trade in sonic youth style guitar duels with the freakouts competing with the quieter moments for domination. singer sharron sulami plays kim gordon to the din, except her voice is more malleable, more willing to be part of the instrumentation than just a loud, declamatory voice on top. go listen to up for days.

4. for people who like music to go with their drinking, go seek buzz buzz tabernacle. their unintelligible holler meet scuzz rock ramble, it takes one to know one, is the perfect accompaniment to your friday night shot of whiskey.

love, d

songs to seek: wait now/the avatars, piano song/summer lawns, up for days/pink noise, it takes one to know one/buzz buzz tabernacle

PS if you've purchased z by my morning jacket, be wary of copying it to your computer. porque? go here to read contributor liz's heads up on sony being really, really bad.

PPS go to the morning theft, the song corporation, man in gray show at sin-e tonight. it's a benefit for the new orleans musicians clinic. & it's friday. so hop to it.

*the monkey says that contributor jared & I are the only people he's ever met who preface everything they say with disclaimers & prologues. which is hilarious! & sadly, quite true. I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, y'know.

11.12.2005

Apologies to those who don't care... (which is most of you)

Cribbed from my blog:

As long as I'm ranting and raving like a lunatic and exposing myself for the shlock-loving cheesemeister that I am, Joss Whedon was REALLY influenced by Stephen Sondheim, did you know? Um-- his three favourite songs from the three shows he talks about (Sweeney Todd, Sunday in the Park, Pacific Overtures) are also MY favourite songs from those musicals. Spot-on.

He's god. That's just how it is. Holy smokes. Anyway, it's a great article.


It's just such... a good... article...

But sorry to you non-Buffy, non-Sondheim (read: non-me) people.

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11.11.2005

popular culture no longer applies to me

NB: the post below was written a couple of days ago, but was delayed thanks to my being diseased (there ain't no pleasin'). not only is this post poorly written BUT it appears to be moot as the show is SOLD freakin' OUT thanks to everyone & their mommy touting it. nevertheless, here goes...

dear friends,

so many bands. so little time & so very little cash. as I mindlessly typed all the code & gobbledygook that is required to get the pathetic show listing on the left here on soft communication, I was suddenly hit with a blind panic at realizing that I wanted to see most of these shows & that I didn't have the means.

now, I put the listings up there because there are shows I am going to, entertain notions of going to, &/or other contributors are going to. but the truth is, I only ever get to a couple if I'm lucky. sadly, I'm not in the exalted position of free ticketdom, so I have to break down my playtime money into a) cds to buy, b) shows to go to, c) drinks to have & the incredibly deadly... d) pharmacy breakdowns (wherein one buys way more than toothpaste at eckerd's because one is feeling vulnerable or some such idiocy & an avocado clay mask seems just the thing to combat that) or mac attacks (same as prior parenthetical but substitute avocado clay mask for toxic purple eyeshadow) but I digress... the point is, I can't see all this good stuff. but you should.

first up on the must-sees, we have art brut (touched upon back in may here), the occasion & test icicles at northsix on friday. uk art punks with tongues firmly in cheek, art brut, nyc luvvies with a pastoral indie bent, the occasion, & young, hungry, fast, loud screamers with a har de har name, test icicles. that's a very nice bill!

a lot of people like to fix on the fact that art brut's singer, eddie argos, is, well, hardly a singer, more of a talker & a self-aware one at that (see: formed a band's lyrical salvo, "yes, this is my real singing voice. it's not irony & it's not rock 'n' roll.") & that amuses. yes, he's tone deaf. but more importantly, the band is hot shit. art brut has impressive dynamics & their combined double guitar/drum/bass din comes off like math rock with emotions (shocktastic!) because the joy they're feeling at playing together comes across vividly like a big ole play slap in the face. & they keep getting better. but why listen to me, try & find instrumental rusted guns of milan OR go to the show on friday.

fellow bill sharers the occasion & test icicles are also quite worthy. the occasion's a dulcimer's fancy has been on repeat in my ears for weeks now. this languorous song plays like rolling over slowly on sheets that are just the right morning temperature. in other words, yummy. test icicles are the latest nme darlings, future of rock rah rah rah, but nevermind the hyperbollocks, they're a nice little punk band & their boa vs python is just the kind of song you want to hear to get aggro on a friday night.

hopefully, I'll see ya there.

love, d

songs to seek: rusted guns of milan/art brut, a dulcimer's fancy/the occasion, boa vs python/test icicles

11.07.2005

little boys throwing stones

dear friends,

1. for those in nyc who love diane cluck, as I do, or don't know who dat is, but are willing to take a chance on my golden ears, come join contributor jared & I today when we go watch her perform selections from her new album countless times at other music at 8:00 PM. go here to listen to sylvania from that cd.

2. someone told me I needed to get the new elbow album, leaders of the free world, & I ignored them 'cause I got their asleep at the wheel cd back when it came out & was underwhelmed. never mind that (said in welsh accent), go hear the excellently self-righteous title track immediately. it's got a menacing chug, oohs & velvety vocal work that's layered all over like layers of gruyere on some au gratin potatoes.

I'm hungry. hence the food imagery. used to describe a song that's about bush et blair & their good time war & it's effect on the common man. cough. THIS is why I am not a professional.

3. I written about giant drag before here on soft communication. what I haven't written about is how I am a huge supporter of MEOW rock. that right. rock which features meowing. a friend of mine from the college wilderness years & his roommate would frequently cover the stone's mother's little helper & substitute "meow, meow, meow" for the guitar parts. I enjoyed this way too much. since then, I've tried to encourage others to insert meows & usually this suggestion is met with blank stares. so you can imagine my delight at hearing the fade out of giant drag's kevin is gay which has singer annie hardy meowing in lieu of shredding. very good. keep up the meow work.

4. the monkey thinks that nina persson from the cardigans is an arrogant scandinavian because when he saw them play back in the lovefool* days, she smirked & told her audience, "you KNOW you want me". years later, I'm not sure if she still thinks she's hot shit* BUT once again, on the strength of their latest effort super extra gravity, I still want to try to beat what I call the curse of the cardigans!, you know the one where blizzards & other sundry force majeures detain me from seeing them live. this will be my year!

anywho, I'm especially feeling their new single I need some fine wine & you, you need to be nicer. the ungainly title says it all in terms of subject matter 'cept some awkwardness by way of dog training terms is thrown in for good measure. dog training terms, eh? yup. persson sings "sit!", "beg!", "roll over", "good dog", etc. & that makes me say quoi? I thought this song was about the paucity of good pinot? are the canine commands there so persson can come off like a silky haired dominatrix? or to push the point that the individual that needs to be nicer is like a bad dog? nevertheless, the tune is aces 'cause it demonstrates the tartly sweet pop rock universal singalong smarts that the cardigans have in spades. good for the bounce. saying "you KNOW you want me" while you dance along IS definitely recommended.

5. see number #1. go. failing that, go to here & listen to orange hat by herman dune who've recorded & toured with diane cluck. consider that the monday cracker jack surprise.

love, d

songs to seek: sylvania/diane cluck, leaders of the free world/elbow, kevin is gay/giant drag, I need some fine wine & you, you need to be nicer/the cardigans, orange hat/herman dune

* c'mon, you remember. "love me, love me, say that you love me!" everywhere. all the time. like the bubblegum plague. & yes, I liked it too.

** judging from the more recent photo I'd say that's a "probably".

11.05.2005

bi-fi

Spending an entire day at the computer and only writing two pages is beyond frustrating. In fact, I daresay it's frustrating. Thank goodness for internet radio: it keeps me awake, it keeps me tethered to the laptop via headphones, it reminds me of the world outside, and also, it is awesome.

Usually I go for public radio via Maine or NYC broadcasts, but y'know, sometimes they go on these all-opera blocks and without the live spectacle of people in massive costumes, opera doesn't push my buttons. Ideally I'd listen to lo-fi community channels all the livelong day, but a) their signals usually suck and b) as much as you want to dream that people in the middle of nowhere are rockin' out to old Sonic Youth b-sides, the truth is that they're more apt to bust out Christina Aguilera techno remixes (as Radio Free Rockland did today). I'm down with KEXP, but sometimes their playlists sound too much like what I'd hear if I put my (or Bryan's) iTunes on shuffle, and when I'm "working" I don't want to be distracted by a song I know all the words to.

So, my current solution is international radio, specifically signals originating from the Netherlands, because the Dutch have great taste in wooden shoes and gouda and incomprehensible Germanic power-pop. On the other hand, I've been tuned in to Zeilsteen Radio for most of the day (it's in your iTunes, look for it) and they've played some familiar tunes (We Are Scientists, the Shout Out Louds, Morrissey), too. The best part is the Dutch shouting that breaks in periodically; promos, I think.

I've also sought solace in Sunshine Radio ("popular music from Nyiregyhaza, Hungary"). Apparently British disco is popular in Nyiregyhaza, Hungary. The J-pop stations are fun for a while but then the sugary whee! starts to eat away at my curmudgeonliness, and it's fucking impossible to write without a certain level of curmudgeonliness. I love bhangra but find it a bit intrusive for work. There's Radio Free Klezmer, however, and I can recommend that wholeheartedly.

What is your favorite radio on the internet? And did I just invent a new hipster band name, or what?

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11.01.2005

there are powerlines in our bloodlines

Dear friends,

I updated the linkage on the side to include blogs/sites that I occasionally peruse whilst sipping my hot chocolate. I may add a few more. Go visit. They are nice. (last sentence said in cod Slavic accent)

1. All I know about Coco Rosie is that they are two gorgeous sisters from France and that they make the kind of vocal racket that makes people either run home exhilarated at the newness OR get that special emperor's new clothes feeling where it seems like everyone's lost the use of their ears. No matter which camp you fall in I think you'll enjoy Beautiful Boyz, which is good times. Yes, the singer sounds like a toddler who's warbling the Disney songbook on one of those 80's exercise machines with the huge rubber band looking thing that you put around your waist and it makes you go uuunnnnnnnaaaaagnggggggghhhhhhhaaaaahhhh!!! (anyone know what these were called and what on earth they were FOR?) but in a drowsy, slo-motion sorta way. Is my description garbled enough for ya? Well, that's what the song is to me. And it is important to note that despite how bizarre and unintelligible the vocals sound, they work nicely with the stately, telenovela theme piano and chorus. Picture a woman named Catalina with much bosom and hair planning to seduce a ridiculously good looking priest named Patricio. The odds are against her but she's plucky 'cause she's from the wrong side of the tracks and she's still gotten this far, so how can she fail?

2. For those of you who wished there were a Billie Holiday manque from the world of folk-blues, your prayers are answered! Go find Fred Neil's Blues on the Ceiling as performed by Karen Dalton*. Put on headphones. Lie down. Stare at said ceiling. Hug your pillow.

3. Once while searching for Kevin Ayers, I wound up coming across Kevin Coyne whose last name is some weird Frenchification of the maternal family name, so in a small narcissistic way, I was happy to have found him. One day I shall write a larger piece about the man but for now, I'd like to talk about one of the songs featured on a little album by the name of Babble. This was meant to be a theatrical piece exploring the relationship between two isolated lovers gone murderously folie a deux**. Dagmar Krause (Slapp Happy, Henry Cow, the female voice in Babble, unsettles one mightily with Sweetheart, a song that initially, at least if you're paying attention to the lyrics, seems to be about a puppydogs and moonbeams type love but instead rapidly weirds the fuck out of the listener with its amorous persistence and histrionic, Teutonic vocals. For those who like their musical theater with a pinch of psychosis.

4. if I smile real nice, The Monkey plays me a song called Cymbaline by Pink Floyd. It is from a Barbet Schroeder directed film called More which is ostensibly about how the kids of the late 60's were the new sun worshippers and their eyes where gonna melt in their heads from staring at all the brightness or running from murderous smack dealers in Ibiza or something. Honestly, I wasn't paying too much attention since dubbed films hurt my eyes. Nevertheless, Cymbaline is not about Shakespeare or misspelling, but it could be about what it's like to be a suddenly successful rock star out on tour somewhere, feeling adrift in a sea of easy drugs and even easier women. Since hearing the song makes me think of floating quietly in crystalline Mediterranean waters and NOT nightmares, I fall into a lovely sleep almost every single time I hear it.

5. Damn those Decemberists! First they got me with that song about the whale which featured a lyric about gambling arrears, of all things. And now, it's this song called The Engine Driver that's so beautifully sappy it kills. There still the "I've read all the works of dickens"-type vibe but I don't really see the problem with that style. Besides the real essence of the song is the simple but universal lyric that acts as chorus, "and if you don't love me, let me go" it's the kind of line that if spoken aloud sound like nothing but when sung, hangs in the air, like the ghost of all unfulfilled or unrequited loves. Where's my hankie, I need to clutch it!

love, D

* Originally inspired by the relationship between Ian Brady and Myra Hindley aka the Moors Murderers. Unfortunately, this association caused the cancellation of several London performances of this show under the charge that Coyne was trying to provide justification for the killers' acts. Please file under "people are dumb".

** For more information on Karen Dalton, read this informative little piece. I highly recommend seeking her out. With her dried out, aching vocal style; Dalton is one of the few artists who can't miss on a cover. She always captures in her interpretations some aspect of a song that was missing or unexplored in the original.

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WFMU Record + CD Fair

For those of us in NYC, be aware that the WFMU Record + CD Fair is this weekend:

@ Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street
b/w 6th & 7th Avenues
7pm-10pm Friday
10am-7pm Saturday & Sunday
$5 admission

And Maybe Ronald Reagan Is Responsible For Rap-Rock

"Rock ‘N' Roll As Real Estate: Is Alan Greenspan the Father of Electro-Clash?"

via Cinemocracy, who explains it thusly:
The basic premise of the article is this: You can’t have a garage band if you don’t have a garage, and you won’t have a garage if you don’t own a home. Chances are, these days, that you don’t own a home, because the recent housing bubble caused such inflation in the price of a single-family residence that bourgeois families (i.e., those who are predisposed to have children who want to play in a garage band) can no longer afford to own a home. No home, no garage; no garage, no space for a full drum set. Consequently, aspiring rock stars -- specifically those who form part of the “Electro-Clash” movement and “the semi-acoustic/psychedelic ‘folk’ revival” movement -- have to make do with smaller instruments, such as drum machines and various other compact synthesizers, tools that allow them to practice and compose without taking up a lot of space.

So what sparked this whole causal chain? Alan Greenspan, of course, whose policy of letting the economy run hot with obnoxiously low interest rates gave people the impetus to invest, en masse, in real property, thus squeezing the garage bands out of the garages and into the 600 sq. ft. Jr. 1BRs in the gentrified former slum downtown.