Sunday, May 30, 2004

As promised, here's the write up of the Mooney Suzuki show I saw. A lot of other things have happened between then and now, so this will be brief. Here goes...

THE MOONEY SUZUKI and THE SEXY MAGAZINES @ Bowery Ballroom (New York NY) - May 17, 2004

I can't remember how the Sexy Magazines sounded. The singer's mannerisms were clearly that of one who watched lots of old Rolling Stones footage. The rest of the band jumped around on stage like little boys picking up an instrument for the first time and pretending to be rock stars. They were fun to watch.

Just before the Mooney Suzuki started, Steve Van Zandt came out to introduce them. These days, he's looking more like Silvio Dante than Miami Steve but I was very excited nonetheless. No matter how many mob informants he's killed over the years, he'll always be the stylish, yet badass, guitarist of the E Street Band to me.

The Mooney Suzuki were obviously a more seasoned live band than the Sexy Magazines, yet no less enthusiastic. They were loud, the songs were good, and they put on a very energetic show. The set ended with both guitarists playing on top of the speakers on either side of the stage while the drummer marched around holding a giant skyward pointing fist (a 3D version of the band's backdrop) over his head. Then the band came off the stage and into the crowd. The drummer climbed on top of the bassist's shoulders and the two worked their way through the crowd, still waving that fist in the air. Meanwhile, one guitarist sat on top of the other guitarist's shoulders and they too walked around, both playing guitar all the while. It was all feedback and noise at this point but nobody cared. After a few minutes, the band reassembled on stage and finished the song. It was an amazing end to an already great show. They're definitely worth seeing.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. In addition to working long hours recently, my computer went and committed a murder-suicide. Before rendering itself completely lifeless, my computer also managed to lose all of the files I had saved to the hard drive. My meticulously organized banking records, every story I've written in the past 8 years, and all of my downloaded mp3s are gone forever. Always make backup copies of important files!
My internet access has been, and will continue to be, very limited until I get my computer problems fixed. I've been wanting to write about the Mooney Suzuki show I saw last week, but that's going to have to wait for now (but I will tell you that they were very good).

Monday, May 17, 2004

Oh, this is so sad. I just learned today that Amy Dykes of I Am The World Trade Center was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma shortly before her 30th birthday. The IAmTheWTC website keeps updating her condition. I feel terrible for her and wish her the best.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

I've been really busy lately and haven't had time to post anything here. Rather than ignore this site any longer, here's a quick note as to what I've been listening to recently.

EARLIMART: I've been meaning to write about them here, but my mind turns to mush whenever I start (too much work will do that to you). Everybody Down Here has been getting regular airplay with me.
PEDRO THE LION: This past week, I kept reaching for It's Hard to Find a Friend. I just picked up the new album today, although it's too new for me to form an opinion yet.
BELLE AND SEBASTIAN: Dear Catastrophe Waitress is such a good album.
RATATAT: Another new purchase. Their self-titled debut is really good.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I've been reading the War Against Silence lately. I really enjoy the site. Glenn McDonald is a much better writer than I am and I find it very easy to relate to his feelings about music, even when I can tell where our musical tastes diverge.

I found an old post where he discusses Kid A. I don't necessarily agree with his assessment of the album, but I find his framing theory to be very interesting.
I remember reading an interview with Radiohead a very long time ago and they talked about how grueling it was just to sequence OK Computer. Each member had his own idea as to which song should be played when, and this eventually erupted into an intra-band fight.

I never had very much experience with sequencing. Set lists I've done, although those (in my experience anyway) were never the scene of great drama -- usually a rushed routine best accomplished when the soundman is telling us to get ready and one member is nowhere to be found. It seems instinctual, I think, to select songs to play in an order which makes sense. Maybe I just learned it from making one too many mixtapes.

Anyway, that review reminded me of one of the many music-related lists I have stored in my head: My Favorite Album Sequences. It's a very short list as it only consists of two albums and I'm not really sure what it is about these songs that makes me consider them to be the greatest track sequences ever. Maybe it's because when one really good song ends, there's no sense of disappointment I usually feel over a song's conclusion, because I know there's another equally good, if not better, one about to begin. Perhaps these songs sound alike enough to juxtapose each other, but different enough as well. Whatever it is, I always get excited whenever I'm listening to either of these albums (I actually have both on tape) and it's time to flip over to Side 2, where the sequences lay and that anticipated moment arrives.
REM Out Of Time: Belong / Half A World Away / Texarkana / Country Feedback
My Bloody Valentine Isn't Anything: Feed Me With Your Kiss / Sueisfine / Several Girls Galore

Sunday, May 02, 2004

My trip to the record fair yesterday, by the numbers.
Over one hundred: Dealers on hand.
Tens of thousands: Records and cds for sale.
$350: The most expensive item I noticed for sale. It wasn't even a rare Elvis 45 or a Beatles picture disc, rather a 10" by one of my favorite discoveries from last year: Moondog
$20: What I spent on records.
5: Albums I bought.
4: People I noticed using their own battery powered, portable turntables and headphones. Those things are so cool. I often dreamt of such technology when I was a little kid and got my first walkman.
2: Conversations I overheard about superior audiophile technology which never caught on with the general public. I now know much more about quadrophonic sound than ever before, and also learned there's some sort of hybrid-cd format out there.

Like a nerd, I spent Friday evening preparing for Saturday. Afraid that my mind would go blank as soon as I got to the fair and not remember everything I hoped to find, I actually made a checklist of records I wanted. I smiled at my industriousness and visualized a productive day of record shopping. On Saturday afternoon, I bounded up the stairs of the Metropolitan Pavillion with images of myself leaving in a few hours with the likes of BBC Radiophonic Music or the United States of America's self titled album tucked under my arm.
Of course, even the best plans fall apart as soon as they come into contact with reality.

For those of you who've never been, the WFMU record fair has an almost carnival feel to it. There are games when you first walk in, live broadcasting from the floor, and hundreds of fellow music fans swarming the aisles. It's initially as overwhelming as it is exciting. During this first burst of excitement, I visited a table which proudly displayed the early Outsiders albums. Since I had their CQ on my list, my original expectations of easy record shopping seemed confirmed... until the dealer told me he hadn't heard of CQ.
I wouldn't find anything on my checklist for a long time. The one album I really hoped to find was the first Savage Rose, and about an hour into my visit, my heart stopped when I came across a copy in pristine condition. My heart quickly sank, though, when I saw the $40 price tag.

The problem with record fairs like this, I soon realized, is that the dealers tend to know everything they're selling. It's the same reason why I'll inspect the bargain bins at Tower, but ignore them in Other Music. You might find a Scott Walker original pressing at a flea market for $1, but here you'll be expected to pay top dollar for it. On the other hand, though, you're much more likely to find it here.

Although I didn't buy anything I intended to get, I went home happy with my purchases. Here's what I did get:
NANCY SINATRA Nancy's Greatest Hits (Reprise) - lp, $3
I knew the album was in terrible condition when I bought it. The cover is beaten, torn, and writen on, but it was only $3. I bought it basically because it contained "Summer Wine" -- a song I already had on record but was scratched. As I played this record yesterday, I realized all of side two is badly scratched. Now I have two bad copies of "Summer Wine."
MARIANNE FAITHFUL A Child's Adventure (Island) - lp, $3
I had fears this album would be chock full of bad 80s production. It is. I bought it because it has "Times Square," a song I really like and hoped that Marianne could make it sound extra bleak. I'm not sure she does.
THE AISLERS SET How I Learned To Write Backwards (Slumberland) - lp, $4
I always meant to pick this up on cd but never got around to doing so. At a price like this, how could I pass it up?
THE REMAINS s/t (Sundazed) - 10", $8
I still haven't heard this one yet, and all I know about them is that they were one of the opening bands at the Beatles' last ever show. This is a compilation of a few singles.
KARMA TO BURN s/t (Roadtrip) - 10", $2
When I was in college, they were one of the better known local bands. I can't remember if I ever saw them live or not, although I don't think I did. What are the odds I'd stumble across this record almost a decade after its release?

Random thoughts and anecdotes:
--My one regret from yesterday is passing up on Patrick Gleeson's Star Wars. In case you're wondering, it's selections from the original Star Wars movie performed on what's billed as the "world's most advanced synthesizer" (this is from 1977). I know it sounds really bad, and the cover art doesn't disagree with this assumption, but my grandfather's name (before he came to America and received an Anglicized spelling) was Patrick Gleeson. Considering Star Wars played an integral part of my childhood, this album was a strong curiosity to me, although it still looked bad enough to not even be worth the $20 the dealer was asking for it.

--I think my record collection needs at least a few albums from the 60s with naked women on the cover. It seems like everyone else's vinyl collection has some, but I always think the dealer/cashier is going to think I'm a pervert for buying one. I even began to feel mildly uncomfortable yesterday when the lady who sold me the Nancy Sinatra album tried to spark up a conversation about how hot Nancy looked back then.
Needless to say, I didn't buy How To Belly Dance For Your Husband (although it came with an instructional booklet) or the original cast recording of Let My People Come.
I also passed on the record whose front cover photo featured five towel-clad men sitting in a sauna. I think it was called Steam and I actually saw two different dealers selling it.

--I came across Sun Ra's The Heliocentric Worlds Of..., issued by ESP Records and in new-looking condition. As I was checking it out, the dealer began to tell me how good it was. I asked him much it cost and he told me he'd be willing to accept an offer. I paused, thinking maybe I'd offer $25 for it. Then he said, "It's worth $265, but I'd be willing to go down to $80-100."
I put it down and backed away slowly.

--At the same table which sold Patrick Gleeson's Star Wars, I discovered an album whose front cover read, "The Fourth Reich: Communazis exposed by their own words / Revolution in America Today!" On the back cover, the small print explained, "the purpose of this record is to show the communazi threat is not a political one, but rather one of national survival."
I figured this would be a cool present for my Communist and Nazi hating girlfriend. After I asked the dealer the price (which I thought was too high), another dealer commented on the album's use of "Fourth Reich."
Dealer 2: So Communists were the Fourth Reich? Who were the first two?
Dealer 1: Yeah, that's a good question. We never hear about them.
Me: One had something to do with Caesar.
Dealer 2: But there were lots of Caesars. Which one?
Me: I don't remember.
Dealer 2: And Caesar was Roman. How do you get from the Romans to the Germans?
[a pause for confused silence by all three of us]
Dealer 1 [sighs and looks around the room]: Where's a Nazi when you need one? He'd know all these answers.

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