Tuesday, June 21, 2005

It's that time of month again. This Wednesday, the Archives Listening Project proudly presents an evening of C86 pop. We'll be playing stuff by Orange Juice, the Pastels, Felt, Josef K, the Wedding Present, Aztec Camera, the Go-Betweens, the Field Mice, and many many more. All night long for free, starting at 9pm at 12" Bar (179 Essex St).

Monday, June 20, 2005

The WFMU yard sale on Saturday was worthwhile way to spend the morning, even if it was more of a hassle getting to Jersey City than it should've been. Basically the station was unloading a bunch of records, cds, and old radio equipment, and some DJs were on hand to sell some of their own stuff too. The best part? Records cost $1 each.

I wasn't really looking for anything in particular -- exotica or 60s psychedelic stuff, I guess -- but it seemed like an awfully high proportion of classical music and 70s classic rock were for sale. I bought six records:
George Harrison All Things Must Pass
Turk Murphy Jazz Band The Many Faces of Ragtime
The Ink Spots The 10 Best Hits of...
Henry Mancini The Best of...
Ravi Shankar Charly original motion picture score
The London Baroque Ensemble performing William Boyce

I hardly looked at any cds, having made the realization it's much more fun to flip through old records than compact discs. The Boyce album was pretty much bought for its colorful cover design, and the Ink Spots have a really nice looking cover as well. My big score of the day, though, was definitely George Harrison. His three-disc masterpiece, complete with fold out poster, for only a $1? I still can't believe it.

Completely unrelated, I'm no longer posting random lyrics at the top of the page. I've replaced it with a quote attributed to Thomas Edison from this article (published in 1878) about the phonograph. I think it makes for a nice mission statement, if I ever need one.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Karol has this friend who thinks it's funny to sing messages on our answering machine. She usually nicks the melody of either "The Farmer in the Dell" or "La Cucaracha" to express some sort of variation on "pick up the phone." When she's feeling rather inspired, however, she'll put absurd lyrics to the aforementioned songs and ramble on for minutes. Fortunately, she was in San Francisco all of last week. Unfortunately, she's back in New York now. I didn't think she'd return so soon, but when I came home from work there was a message waiting to announce her arrival. Devoid of any melody or rhythm, and of near "Stairway to Heaven" length, she sang "Did you miss me? Did you miss me? Did you miss me?" until the machine cut her off.

Not counting Evil Dawn's singing, I've had my share of bizarre answering machine messages, but she got me thinking today about outgoing messages. Remember when answering machines were still new? Never before had there been a medium for the common man to display his cleverness to the world and it seemed as though everyone had to create the answering machine skit. You had the guy who attempted to trick people into thinking he really was on the phone ("Hello...Oh, how are you?...I'm doing well, thanks. So, what's going on?...Just kidding! I'm not here to take your call right now"), the newly married couple who both had to speak and preferably alternated words, the little kids acting as family spokesmen, and it just gets more outlandish from there. The Kids in Hall famously captured the spirit of the times with the Answering Machine Message (Bruce was the husband and Kevin played the wife).
But those days are long over. The collective we have chosen to adopt the straight message as the message of choice. Heck, I don't even have one -- I just use the default "Hello, please leave a message" computer voice that came with the thing. We've become a society of old people and government clerks.

So what does all of this have to do with music? Not much. But it reminded me of this tape I've had for a long time and one of the songs was a recording of Bruce Springsteen's outgoing message from 1985, when he was busy touring the world in support of Born in the USA. I went ahead and uploaded it here for the time being. I actually used it when I bought my first machine, but changed it after people complained it was too long.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I mentioned awhile back something about setting up a MySpace page for my home recordings. I'd kind of forgotten about the site until it recently came up in conversation on some email list I'm on, so I've been back to it. If you dig through all the bands on MySpace, there's some really good stuff to be found.

Someone from alcianblue is on the same email list and once I visited their page, I couldn't stop thinking about that guitar on "Angelica Take Me Down." It sounds like a fighter jet coming to destroy your speakers. This song deserves to be played loud. Speaking of which, I'm sure I already mentioned the Moon Knights, but I'll mention them again. It's like Sonic Youth and Beat Happening got married and ran off to Alaska. Really Frickin', capital F, cool.

What feels like many years ago, I saw Helium at the Knitting Factory but was more impressed by the opening band, the Gunga Din. So I went to see the Gunga Din a few weeks later at the Mercury Lounge and ended up liking their opener, the Vanity Set, even better (if G>H and V>G, does that mean V>H?). The singer, who also played drums for the Gunga Din, was this really tall mortician looking guy and they had cellos and lots of other non-rock instruments. They had no recordings available and then I never saw their name anywhere else ever again. It was almost as if they'd vanished.
Then last month I saw the Ambitious Orchestra play at the Knitting Factory and they announced they were playing a show with the Vanity Set last week. I couldn't make it, but then I was on MySpace doing a search for any New York bands who classified themselves as "psychedelic" and -- it all comes full circle now -- there were the Vanity Set. They don't sound anything like I remembered, but it's still really good. Oh yeah, Nick Sclavunus, the main guy, used to play with Nick Cave too.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Welcome to Day One of National Accordian Awareness Month!

In unrelated news, the details for the 5th annual Siren Festival are starting to come out and Dungen, that Swedish master of psychedelia, is on the bill. Looks like I'll be getting a sunburn on July 16.

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