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January 26, 2006


 

Service Interruption

I'm currently dealing with some kind of horrible multi-front flu-like ailment, so I am going to take another day off today. Sorry. There are some days when I can keep this going even when I'm not up for it, but today is not one of them. Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow morning.


January 24, 2006


 

The Strange Towns Where We Will Party Together

Figurines "Silver Ponds" - Somewhere in Denmark, there is a dude who sings exactly like Doug Martsch from Built To Spill and writes elegantly crafted songs of muted melancholy as though he's mainlining the essence of the best European indie rock of the 80s. This is his band, though I suspect it might actually be the result of some advanced computer program designed by a label to yield high scores on Pitchfork. (Click here for the official Figures site.)

Pompey "I Have A Tail" - Pompey's album is restless and deliberately scattered, abruptly shifting from Animal Collective-ish electronic textures to fragments of rhythm and melody and occasionally sounding roughly like Jandek trying to make his own Pet Sounds. This relatively straight pop-ish track comes late in the sequence, almost as though to tap the listener on the shoulder and remind them that they've been in total control all along. Much of the record feels like a headache, but this cut is like when the PM Tylenol kicks in and you're about to nod off. (Click here to get the rest of the album for free from Pocketclock.)


January 23, 2006


 

My God, How Beautiful!

The Knife "We Share Our Mother's Health" -The Knife's previous LP Deep Cuts is a hard act to follow, if just because it contains a song ("Heartbeats") which could very well be the most sublime single of this decade to date. The Knife pretty much shrug off the pressure on Silent Shout, making a lateral move away from the skewed, romantic pop of that album towards a sound that takes their distinctive production aesthetic to a much darker, creepier place. Nearly everything on the record sounds eerie and unnerving, if not outright malevolent. Imagine chopped and screwed Siouxie and the Banshees or Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady" reworked for a goth disco, and you're about halfway to the general feel of the record. (Click here to visit the official website of The Knife.)

The High Violets "Cool Green" - I was walking down an unfamiliar street in Astoria last night listening to this song, and just after the 120 Minutes-in-1988 intro, right when Kaitlyn ni Donavan says �My God, how beautiful!,� a gorgeous, unobstructed shot of midtown Manhattan came into view in the space between two buildings. It's fairly easy to walk around here and not see the skyline, so when it pops out of nowhere like this, it can seem even more magnificent than usual. Everything about this moment of synchronicity was ideal, right down to the level of light in the sky. Set against a deep, starless navy blue backdrop bracketed by two mundane lowrises in the foreground, the white lights of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings appeared to burn with an unreal intensity. (Click here to buy it from Reverb Records.)


January 20, 2006


 

When We Were Twelve or Twenty-Two

Miranda! "Don" - I don't understand much Spanish, but I do get the gist of "es un
soooolo / es un guitara de Lolo!," or at at least I do when it's followed by a sweet little guitar solo. Lyrics are almost entirely besides the point with a melody bomb like this - if anything, not knowing the words is only a detriment in that it makes it a little harder to sing along. But only a little bit! (Click here to buy it from Ce Musica Latina.)

Enon "Conjugate The Verbs" - When this song was released, I was 20 and in the middle of the worst period of depression that I've ever experienced. The specific reasons are very embarassing and I'm going to avoid bringing them up if you don't mind, but the lyrics of this song had a strong resonance for me at the time, which is very strange if you take into account that these words are, to put the positive spin on it, extremely cryptic. I remember what I was feeling, but I'm not sure what I was thinking. There is almost no connection between what the words are actually saying and what I forced them to mean to me. (Well, except for "she's on an unconscious mission to destroy you," I guess.) It's pretty clear now that I was mostly just responding to the arrangement and the way the song's dynamic structure feels like falling through a series of trap doors, plunging to new low with each chorus. (Click here to buy it from Insound.)


January 19, 2006


 

It Makes Me Smile And It Keeps My Teeth Clean

Thank you to everyone who came out for the Fluxblog/Stereogum event last night. I realize that it was a work/school night and that DJ sets by a bunch of bloggers doesn't quite match up to the entertainment value of a brand new (and very key!) episode of Lost, so I'm very grateful for everyone who showed up, and especially for the people who were still around by the time I started. I went on a little late. Sorry!

Spektrum "May Day" / Cristina "Mamma Mia" / Ludus "Breaking The Rules" / Dolly Parton "Baby, I'm Burning" / ABBA "You Owe Me One" / Girls Aloud "Biology" / Art Brut "Good Weekend" / Maxi Geil! & Playcolt "Makin' Love in the Sunshine" / Beyonce with Slim Thug and Bun B "Check On It" / Fox "SSSingle Bed" / Hey Willpower & Annie "Chewing Gum" / Los Super Elegantes "Dance" / Rachel Stevens "I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)" / Hollertronix "Tippin' Toxic" / Hank "Ferox" / Love Is All "Motorboat"

Hey Willpower with Annie "Chewing Gum" - Not a dream, not a hoax, not an imaginary story a homemade mash-up: Will (Imperial Teen) Schwartz's pop group have teamed up with Annie for a duet version of "Chewing Gum," resulting in a track that seems almost strategically designed to appeal to me. At this rate, we can expect a Stephen Malkmus/Eleanor Friedberger duet before the end of the year. (Click here for the official Hey Willpower site.)

Fox "SSSingle Bed" - Here's another old family favorite for the newer readers. This brilliant glam-funk track is just a little over thirty years old right now, but it still feels a little bit ahead of its time. Unfortunately, this track is entirely out of print at the moment as far as I know, though the first two Fox albums were recently reissued in the UK. A reader just informed me that this song is indeed in print as part of a compilation titled Guilty Pleasures Rides Again. I kinda resent the implication that anyone should feel like this song is a "guilty pleasure," but whatever. (Click here to buy it from Amazon UK.)


January 18, 2006


 

Look Out, Argentina Just Score Another Goal!

Last night I played a DJ set at an invite-only party along with the band Los Super Elegantes and Senior from Junior Senior. This should give you some indication of what to expect for tonight's Fluxblog Vs. Stereogum event at Luke & Leroy, though I am planning on playing a fairly different group of songs.

The Silures "21 Ghosts" / Ce'cile "Hot Like We" / M.I.A. "10 Dollar" / Vanesshina & Allesandra "Gira" / Edu K "Popozuda Rock and Roll" / Wir Sind Helden "Guten Tag" / Girls Aloud "Models" / ABBA "You Owe Me One" / Cristina "Mamma Mia" / Ludus "Breaking The Rules" / Maxi Geil! & Playcolt "Makin' Love in the Sunshine" / Beyonce with Slim Thug and Bun B "Check On It" / Fox "S-s-single Bed" / Goldfrapp "Ride A White Horse" / Robyn "Konichiwa Bitches" / Junior Senior "Take My Time" / Out Hud "It's For You" / Gene Serene and John Downfall "U Want Me" / Ladytron "Destroy Everything You Touch" / Celestial Choir "Stand On The Word (Larry Levan Mix)" / The Meters "Cabbage Cosby Alley" / Zalatnay Sarolta "Hadd Mondjam El" / Prince "Controversy" / The Slits "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" / The Make Up "Pow! to the People" / Mia. "Heroes" / David Wrench "World War IV" / Hank "Defreeze and Top Gal" / Fox and Wolf "Youth Alcoholic" / Johnny Boy "15 Minutes"

Many longtime readers will notice that I pulled out a lot of old Fluxblog classics from '03 and '04 for this set. For newer readers, here are two of those golden oldies:

Mia "Heroes" - Not to be confused with M.I.A.! This Mia is a German pop band, and this is their cover of the David Bowie song, though it's probably more accurate to call it a "reimagining" or somesuch since they take some rather drastic liberties with the song and sing the entire thing in German. I recently rediscovered this song after about not hearing for about a year or so, and I've fallen in love with it all over again. This track was originally posted here on February 18, 2004. (Click here to buy it from Amazon Germany.)

The Silures "21 Ghosts" - Though I do enjoy sharing music with you all, I ultimately do this site for fairly selfish reasons - if I didn't work within this artificial structure, I would probably get lazy about seeking out new songs and then I wouldn't have amazing obscure gems like this in my life. This is undoubtedly one of the best songs that I've ever featured on the site and probably my favorite way to open a DJ set, but since I've written about this song at least twice before, here's a bit of testimonial from James at Green Pea-Ness:

"21 Ghosts" may well be the most stupefying jump-around-like-an-idiot hammer-of-the-gods not-actually-a-rock song I've ever heard in my life, with the possible exception of a certain song dedicated to determining the placement of bitches on one's 99-strong list of problems. Honestly, I feel a little funny even giving credit to Pascal "Vitalic" Arbenz (one-half of the Silures along with Linda Lamb) for this one simply because it out-rocks everything he's ever done, no small feat considering we're talking about motherfucking VITALIC here. I'm thinking that this must have just been a lightning-in-a-bottle moment; all I can say is thank Jebus someone had a bottle handy.

This track was originally posted here on March 11, 2004.
(Click here to buy it from Amazon UK.)


Elsewhere: Eppy begs God to explain the existence of the new television series Love Monkey.


January 17, 2006


 

Now That's What I Call Holy Writ

Sugababes "Push The Button (Acoustic Mix)" - If you were wondering what this song would be like if the Sugababes were to perform it at your local open mic night, your curiosity should be relieved by this alternate mix. The arrangement is cut down to a spare acoustic guitar, piano, and some subtle percussion and keyboard effects, though the vocals seem to be entirely unchanged. Though this doesn't quite match up to the sublime electropop of the original studio version, the song holds up very well to reinterpretation and should serve to encourage others to cover the tune in the future. (Click here for the official Sugababes site.)

Loose Fur "Thou Shalt Wilt" - Strangely, I never noticed that the name of this Wilco side project was a play on name Lucifer until I had to say it out loud this morning. They are pushing for irony pretty hard, given that the name of the new album is Born Again In The USA and this song is basically the Ten Commandments set to a jaunty Steely Dan-ish classic rock tune. (Click here for the Drag City Loose Fur mini-site.)


January 16, 2006


 

The Weekend Stretches Out Infinitely

I'm Chareth, and is the Maximalist.

James Rabbit "United States Cooldown" -

Just another West Coast maximalist: this James Rabbit song is so manic
Just another West Coast maximalist: it sounds like kids who have ADD taking speed
Chareth, The Flirt: what kind of images are you getting?
Just another West Coast maximalist: jelly and ice cream
Just another West Coast maximalist: balloons and streamers
Chareth, The Flirt: James Rabbit is a strange band. There's always something just a little off about their music, like it would seem sort of normal if other people played the same thing.
Just another West Coast maximalist: yeah, i get that!
Just another West Coast maximalist: it sounds sort of skewed
Chareth, The Flirt: He always sounds like he can't wait to get to the next lyric, he has this impatient excitement in his voice.
Just another West Coast maximalist: like they were given the wrong drugs
Chareth, The Flirt: actually I think it sounds like music by people who never ever take drugs
Just another West Coast maximalist: i meant medicine
Chareth, The Flirt: same thing!
Just another West Coast maximalist: sort of
Chareth, The Flirt: it sounds like their main motivation is interminable boredom
Just another West Coast maximalist: it definitely has a sort of manic childish enthusiasm, that almost doesnt make sense with what he's singing about
Just another West Coast maximalist: and like he wants to play everything at once
Chareth, The Flirt: I really like the keyboard solo
Just another West Coast maximalist: i can't for the... and then the - oh and then we - BUT THEN - KEYBOARD SOLO - OH GOD
Just another West Coast maximalist: that's James Rabbit's mind, right there

(Click here for Tyler from James Rabbit's blog. He'll send you a free copy of the album if you email him!)

Seth Kauffman "Get Your Love Stole" -

Just another West Coast maximalist: this Seth Kauffman song sounds really odd to me
Chareth, The Flirt: really?
Just another West Coast maximalist: i keep expecting it to sound like something else
Chareth, The Flirt: how would you draw this song?
Just another West Coast maximalist: on an open road, in a bar
Chareth, The Flirt: would Earl be in it?
Just another West Coast maximalist: no, hes not swinging enough
Just another West Coast maximalist: it would romanticise drinking alone
Chareth, The Flirt: and how would Earl be bad for that?
Just another West Coast maximalist: he's not romantic enough
Just another West Coast maximalist: he's too cheeky
Chareth, The Flirt: it's weird, this song feels so right and yet it's really difficult to write about
Just another West Coast maximalist: it sounds really old
Chareth, The Flirt: it's not old, it's brand new! that's the magic of lo-fi, son
Chareth, The Flirt: I was just walking around Astoria, and it's really cold and there's bits of ice and snow all over, and the song sounded perfect for that moment, but I really couldn't form any coherant thoughts about it
Just another West Coast maximalist: ha! it makes me think of hot, summer nights
Just another West Coast maximalist: really stifling
Chareth, The Flirt: I guess it could work that way too
Just another West Coast maximalist: it reminds me of the Stones
Just another West Coast maximalist: end of the night songs
Just another West Coast maximalist: like 3am
Chareth, The Flirt: this sort of lo-fi always says "winter" to me, especially the high end of the percussion and the low end of the bass
Just another West Coast maximalist: i think this is possibly because one summer i listened to "let it bleed" all the time
Chareth, The Flirt: that would do it

(Click here for Kauffman's empty website.)


January 13, 2006


 

Imagine This Post As Being "Fun Size," Like A Miniature Milky Way

Edu K (featuring Deize Tigrona) "Sex-O-Matic (Original Mix)" - This song makes sexuality seem almost entirely inextricable from combat, with every beat sounding like a shot aimed at the hips and every come-in in the vocals annunciated more like a taunt. (Click here to buy it from Soul Seduction.)

Stereo Total "Bad News From The Stars" - This glitchy cover of a Serge Gainsbourg reggae song could very well be the weirdest thing in the Stereo Total discography, but in a roundabout sort of way, it's almost the most obvious thing they could do given their general aesthetic. (Click here to buy it from Disko B.)


January 12, 2006


 

For You Right Here It's Awesome

Johnny Boy "Fifteen Minutes" - The wall-of-joycore sound of "You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve" was no fluke. Almost every song on Johnny Boy's debut album reaches a similar sort of ecstatic peak, and most of them reach those dizzying heights and never quite come back down to earth. Taken one song at a time, it's a magical thing, but listening to one after the other is overwhelming and can numb a person to the brilliance of the material. (Click here for the official Johnny Boy site.)

Aziz Ansari - Excerpt from "Invite Them Up" - Comedy Central's cd compilation documenting material performed at Eugene Mirman and Bobby Tisdale's weekly Invite Them Up showcase on the Lower East Side is usually quite funny. The album's three discs generally tip in favor of strong material from the likes of Mirman, Jon Glaser, Andy Blitz, David Cross and Jon Benjamin, and Jessi Klein, with only a few brief detours into lameness and unnecessary musical interludes. The highlight of the set comes from fellow blogger and comedy newcomer Aziz Ansari, who offers up a solid nine minutes of stand-up on the topics of turtle-fucking, Kayne West's work ethic, hitting on M.I.A., and beating a cop with a brick. (Click here to buy it from Comedy Central.)


January 11, 2006


 

No One Will Dance With Us In This Zany Town

Stephen Malkmus @ Knitting Factory Tap Room 1/10/2006
Shoot The Singer / Church On White / We Dance / Box Elder / Ramp Of Death / Frontwards / Witch Mountain Bridge / Freeze The Saints / Major Leagues / Vanessa From Queens / Gold Soundz

Pavement "Shoot The Singer (Live @ St. Louis 1999) - I now live in eternal debt to the Brooklyn Vegan, who kindly hooked me up with a ticket to this show at the last minute and pretty much made my year. As you can see, this was a very special set, especially for a longtime hardcore Pavement fan such as myself. Malkmus performed the entire set alone with an acoustic guitar and without a setlist - everything played was an audience request. I was lucky enough to get two of the songs that I shouted for - "Shoot The Singer" and "We Dance" - and the One Louder dudes were treated to a lovely version of "Box Elder" that was played on strummed chords rather than the arpreggiated notes as per usual.

As you can imagine, the performance was a bit ragged as he attempted to play several songs that he clearly hasn't practiced in a while - "Frontwards" was especially shambling, and the audience had to help him remember the words of "Gold Soundz," even the "we're coming to the chorus now" bit! Either way, he carried it off with his typical charm and no one in the room was about to complain, since he hasn't publically performed Pavement songs in NYC since 1999. "Ramp of Death," "We Dance," and "Major Leagues" were especially well suited to solo performance, though I'm sorta mystified as to why anyone would call out for "Major Leagues" (much less "Freeze The Saints") at an all-request Malkmus show. Songs that were called out but rejected for one reason or another: "Grave Architecture," "Shady Lane," "Old Jerry," "Jo Jo's Jacket," "Father To A Sister Of Thought," "Summer Babe," "Ell Ess Two," "Here," "Range Life," "Harness Your Hopes," "No More Kings," "Civilized Satanist," and "Candylad," the last three being particularly ambitious and obscure.

I can't emphasize enough how big of a deal it is to me that I finally got to see the guy play "Shoot The Singer." I've been wanting this for about twelve years now, and it's easily among the highest percentile of my favorite songs in the world. I was convinced that I would only ever get to see it live if Pavement were to go on a reunion tour, and even then if I was very lucky. So yeah, yesterday was a very lucky day for me. (Click here to buy the studio recording from Amazon.)

Lashio Thein Aung "You Got What You Want" - More so than any other record that I've heard from the label, Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar Vol. 2 lives up the name Sublime Frequencies. The album collects a string of uniformly great Burmese psychedelic pop songs from the early 70s that were previously hopelessly obscure and almost entirely unheard outside of Burma. This gorgeous duet credited to Lashio Thein Aung is a major highlight from the compilation, and fairly representative of the set's relentless catchiness and beautiful reverb. (Click here to buy it from Sublime Frequencies.)


January 10, 2006


 

Send Me Someone Else To Love

Lee Rogers "I Want You To Have Everything" - Simultaneously jubilant and down to earth, this song captures the exhilirating rush of new love better than most any other song that I've ever heard, though I must say that my memory is getting hazier on the subject every day. If I'm way off the mark, please let me know and feel free to gush about your good fortune. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Smiley Lewis "That Certain Door" - Poor bitter Smiley - burned by "that one-sided love affair" but still somehow ready to tumble right back into love, even if he's still picking himself up from the previous disappointment. His voice is warm, optimistic, and big hearted, but it is his words and most especially his chilly guitar solo that speak for his doubts and apprehension. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

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