• All Alone and Wired

    6 Nov 2008, 21:51

    I've decided I don't use this thing enough, and until I get a real life it will have to do. Vacillating between extremes right now, musically. Full of caffeine and other stimulants, alone in the house for a few days. When I return from the film this evening, I will close the door on the world, and in all probability not emerge from my dire cocoon until I am called forth some time on Sunday. Too much to do, and no one to distract me or divert me. Sometimes, I sink into my own strange horrible world and emerge from it, if not victorious, then at least shriven.
    What the hell am I listening to?
    I'm not sure it matters.
  • Bungee-Jumping Into the Abyss

    5 Ago 2008, 17:02

    Don't ask me why, but I've been on this serious noise-rock kick lately. Despite having gotten my grubby little hands on both the Execution of All Things and The Moon and Antarctica I'm still finding myself drawn to the other side of my preferences. Since the girl has left the state for a week and change, providing in paltry exchange her cat from a previous marriage, it behooves me to indulge myself in music she finds personally offensive.
    Furthermore, I'm taking the time to try and hash out this story that's been floating around in my head for far too long, in one form or another. For the most part, it's just been a title and a series of emotional states associated; mental impressions, if you will. And I will. I find that the sometimes dissonant beauty of, for instance, The pAper chAse is most conducive to this endeavor. Heh. Big words. Since, however, I strip-mined most of the resources over here, I'm writing up thoughts here and simultaneously listening to what Pandora is prepared to provide in the way of intuitive music selection. Later, loaded with new names and ideas, I will once again raid last fm's radio tool and oblige the code which wants to know what I'm listening to, and any music stalkers I may have.
    Armed with various stimulants and a desire to really work for the first time in too long, I will fortify myself with these soothing jagged shreds of sound. I hope I return victorious from the void.
  • Back on the Horse

    20 May 2008, 23:08

    The Old 97's have a new album. I am an old fan. We are finding a balance. Heralded as their first record in four years, Blame it on Gravity is more than that-- this is their first new material in longer still, as the last record to come out-- Hit By A Train-- was a compilation.
    I bought it on Friday at the Waterloo making me one of about a billion people crammed into that Austin landmark to catch the in-store set that Old 97's put on for us. This is the third or fourth time I've seen them, as I was growing up in North Texas right around the release of Fight Songs and Too Far To Care which made finding a show with Rhett and the rest of them the easiest thing in the world. This was before Rhett moved to New York, before The Believer (an album I may have mentioned in the distant past): this was in the bourbon and cigarettes years before Murray got a haircut. This was my youth and memories. It was not only the album but the half-hour set that had much to live up to. And vice versa.
    I am not altogether unpleased. I'm listening to the new record right now, which should tell you something. Of course, I am listening to it for the nth time (I don't remember, so I've generated a variable which shall represent the number of times I've listened to this in the last five days), still subjecting it to the scrutiny of a devoted fan, and I shall make my final determination soon.
    The set was brilliant, as usual. Also as usual, while the rest of the guys kept their cool, Rhett was drenched by the third song (Early Morning, off the new record), still pouring his heart into it like he did when I was thirteen and he was proportionately younger. They kept it G-rated (for the toddlers-- there were some-- in the audience), but that doesn't make much of a difference with these guys. Their best stuff doesn't have to be radio-edited.
    The crowd asked for a Murray song-- they played Smokers and everyone sang along. We also knew all the words to Barrier Reef, listened carefully to the new material, cheered when Ken ripped up the beginning of their traditional closer-- Time Bomb-- and stood in line for autographs afterwards. I got all four. I would have like to hear Four Leaf Clover, if only because Philip's drum intro is fantastic and it would have given all four of them spot time, but it was a tight set, and they only had half an hour.
    After missing them at Shiner Bocktoberfest in 2006, I didn't think I was going to see the band together for a long time, if ever again. Much less for free, clutching a brand-new album that is growing on me even now. I had a good weekend.
  • What The Hell Is This? Can You Tell Me What The Hell This Is?

    1 Ago 2007, 5:50

    Like most people not living under a rock or on the dark side of the Earth, I have heard of (and heard large parts of) this new Smashing Pumpkins album which is making headlines. I have heard rumors of the tour. Like any good little music geek who was pretty frickin hardcore before it became too much work, I know where to go for news of these things. I checked a couple sites, among them the Pumpkins fetish site, Netphoria, searching for information. I wanted to know the lineup. I couldn't find it. I found press releases from Billy, purporting to have most of the old band on board. I found quotes from James Iha saying he certainly wasn't on the album and had no intention of being involved with the tour-- if he'd even been invited. Don't even think about D'Arcy. Still, I couldn't find a list of who was on the new album.
    Then I went to YouTube and just brute forced the answer. I know all these people by sight. It shouldn't be that hard to watch the video for Tarantula and figure out who was playing what, right?
    What I saw horrified me.
    Let's be clear, shall we? Billy Corgan, himself, does not constitute a Smashing Pumpkins lineup. Even having Jimmy there doesn't justify recording under a name we know and love. The Pumpkins were awesome, and now they are over. Okay. Bringing back the name, getting our hopes up, and then handing over a Billy album is cruel and unusual. James Iha's signiture guitar work, a vital component in the original Pumpkins sound, is conspicuous by it's abscence. That's Billy's twisted tenor, all right, the emo-before-it-was-emo psuedo-whine that worked so well with their New Wave sound, but nothing else.
    Billy and Jimmy aren't the Pumpkins. Jimmy may be the only original Billy could agree to signing on, but he is and was frankly the most replacable. To be brutally honest, they could have replace Jimmy with a drum machine back in '95 and no one would have noticed. Losing D'Arcy to drugs altered their sound, but they got another bassist and kept going. I don't know who's on bass or lead guitar here, because I can't get the information out of anyone. This isn't the sound I know and love. I'm not saying Zeitgeist is a bad album. I'm saying Billy needs to get a new godddamned name. This is as bad as the new The Who lineup, and that's saying something.
    If you want to listen to this record, fine. If you want to buy it, go ahead. If the only thing you remember of the Smashing Pumpkins is Billy's penetrating voice and indecipherable lyrics, you'll have a blast. Just don't go looking for the weird rhythms and layered guitar work that was part of the old Pumpkins' sound, because this? This is a new band using someone else's name. Like when Diana Ross billed herself and some random ass backup singers as The Supremes, so Billy has taken on the mantle of hubris, declaring himself to in fact be the purest essence of his old band. Well, him and his drummer. At least Todd Lewis and the guys had the decency to call their new band something other than Toadies, despite having a similar lineup and the same lead singer. And what The Burden Brothers play is far more comparable to the old Toadies sound than this new Pumpkins effort is to the band that gave us Siamese Dream.
    It isn't necessarily a bad record. I'm not saying it is, as long as you have absolutely no recollection of the band from before 1997. As a contemporary once said of Alexander Pope's translation, though: "It's very pretty, Mr Pope, but it is not Homer".
    Click here for absolutely nothing.
  • A Long Weekend

    31 Jul 2007, 5:51

    Been hopping about the state again, and there's one thing long road trips mean: lots and lots of music. As fun as traveling with wireless, jumping from open network to open network as I cruise around the interstate system, can be, I decided against it this time and just stuck with my cd player. This car has one. The last car I drove was a 80s Toyota, with an aftermarket tape deck. Before I found an adaptor, I had listened to No Joke!, Woman as Salvation, and Congratulations I'm Sorry (the only decent tapes I had with me before getting my mixes back from my room-mate) so many times I believe that you will still find the words to the songs engraved in my very soul.
    Anyway. This trip I pulled a bunch of my favorite mixes out, things I did back in '02 or '03, I guess. In addition to those, though, I grabbed The Tain (a record you may have heard me speak of before), which I can listen to endless times in a row. I didn't, though: after the second time through I switched to The Believer. Miller's solo album is very much as good as his work with the Old 97's, who remain one of my favorite rock 'n' roll bands. You hear a lot of rock and roll these days, but rock 'n' roll can be scarce where the hollowbody does not play. There's less of an overt country influence, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on you view. I loved the 97's cover of Mama Tried, but the first time I heard that song (and the version I'm most familiar with) it was off of Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses). On his own, Rhett still has the powerful lyrics and devilishly difficult guitar hooks from hell on his side. This is a boy who knows his way around an album, and it shows. If you at all liked the 97's, or think you might could do with a tad more swank in your stereo, pick this one up.
    I also stuck in You Are Free, just because I'd bought it second hand a few days before. Not the best choice of driving music-- for early mornings, this would not be advisable-- but I was alert enough to take in the complex melodies without actually succumbing to highway hypnosis or indienod (the state of near-somnolence brought on by some indie albums). In other circumstances, I would have happily drifted off into a very cool place. Fear of that exact thing happening kept me from putting in Surrealistic Pillow on either the trip down or the drive back up, despite the fact that it is one of my favorite albums ever. I really dig 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds, what can I say?
    I had a good time, too. Saw some people, listened to the soundrack to the Looking-Glass Wars, drank some good scotch and in general kicked up a little hell. There was merriment involved. Laughter. Something known as-- I swear to deity of choice-- a White Chocolate Love Rocket. Dice and mayhem. Totally worth the drive, that same drive being made perfectly bearable by a few select records, anticipation, and memory. A really good time gets you coming and going.
    Click this for an odd experience. I know I would. Grow hair and influence people.
  • Don't Make Me Come Over There

    17 Jul 2007, 19:37

    I've been doing yet another inadvisable thing, in addition to all my other bad habits: I've been going through my record collection and examining my own taste. Most hipsets will tell you that their taste is refined to the point of irony, that it is so far out you can't see it, and that they only like bands you've never heard of.
    I like bands you've never heard of, but I want you to hear about them. I want you to hear them. I'd love them to cut demos. Other bands have put out records, and more people should listen to them. I love the twisted discordant oft-times disturbing music put forth by bands like Cursive and The pAper chAse-- a band that describes its music as 'avante garde', another word for new wave. There's always a New Wave, and it never sounds the same. That's the fun if it. Okay, not everyone is going to like songs like Drive Carefully Dear ( though some of us use 'my little nest of vipers' as an endearment), but some people are. And the band certainly seems to like playing it.
    Much of the indie scene is recursive, with bands forming side projects becoming bands playing for other musicians from other bands that will reform into yet new bands, until you have scenster supergroups like Horses (I may not mean the same band you do). A lot of the time, it feels like everybody at the show either plays in a band with the guys on stage or used to. Indie shows have a remarkable ratio of musicians to spectators, and in a way that's pushed the music in some challenging directions. Playing for a crowd made up of music geeks (some of them professional) and other musicians is too intimidating (some times) for the usual 3-chord 4/4 rock song. This is a good thing. It keeps the New Wave new, and doesn't let it get too silly. Complex is one thing. Textured is cool. Unlistenable is... well, unlistenable. There is a difference.
    I have (it was a very nice present) an original copy of Ramones on vinyl. It's awesome, but I'm looking around for a cd copy so I don't have to flip the side-- and so I can listen to it in the car. I still listen to Concrete Blonde (some of their songs are just plain wicked). I have, somewhere, the tabs for an entire Social Distortion album, and a green Les Paul style hollow body to play them on. I have been known to seriously annoy my roommates by playing (at high volume) The Tain over and over. I'm still firmly of the opinion that one of the best albums to emerge from the distopian confusion of the 80s was Surfer Rosa and I'm pretty certain I wasn't born when it came out. Smashing Pumpkins started out as a New Wave band because rock was going nowhere, with big hair. There's always a New Wave, and it sounds different every time.
    This is a very good thing.
    Oh, and if none of you have anything better to do: Bite Me
  • help me

    7 Jul 2007, 2:29

    it's cold in here and it won't ever get warm
  • Meditations on a rainy day

    23 Jun 2007, 0:08

    Does god have a Buddha nature, master? Do I? Is the Infinite on the internet, master? Why does the prisoner watch the flight of birds, and what does it mean that I also watch them?
    What is the Buddha nature, master, and how does one master it? Everything goes on, master; with me or without me? Is everything independent, or interdependent? Am I not part of the rain, master, and will it not continue to rain without me? How can light be both a wave and a particle?
    This is a dream, and it is real.
  • Having Too Much Fun

    21 Mar 2007, 0:51

    I'm sitting around here, doing the usual nine things at once and solidifying my ideas of the (near) future. My personal future, anyway. The future at large will simply have to take care of itself for now. There are a few other personal futures I'm very interested in, besides my own; one of them is Cloud Cult's.
    These guys have the very real ability to be big. They already are good, and they surf the curl of the Nu Indie Wave. Not that they sound too much like them, but they could be the next The Pixies: conceptually and experimentally, they have a lot in common with Black Francis, Kim Deal, and the gang. If their is still room in popular music today for the cult of personality (and the internet is starting to erase the anachronism of the idea), these guys are worth rallying around. Cloud Cult (check them out at the easy-to-remember, or look them up on myspace if you really must-- have demonstrated their ability to craft an album (another thing which is slowly seeping back into fashion) with things like Who Killed Puck? and "Advice From the Happy Hippopatomus", which flow together with central lyric and musical themes, at times telling a story (gasp). Ok, so concept albums are a disease process, but a bunch of songs thrown together doesn't make up a record either: maybe an EP, but a real record (pardon mho) should hang together.
    Cloud Cult should hang together too. They've got a new record out (namely, "The Meaning of 8") up for presale on their site now or widespread after 10 April. They've put it out on their own self-started label, Earthology Records, which is insanely environmentally friendly, to the point of cranking in wind power onto the grid in order to make up for the energy cost of their shows and travel. Gotta give cred to a band that's not only a group of great musicians, but also damn decent human beings (and aren't preachy about it, either, so have no fear of catching an earful of heavy-handed message music). Do yourselves a favor and check them out.