Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year From Glam-Racket!

Another year and another set of resolutions. But before that, let me take a step back and declare that 2007 was not only one of the best in terms of some great music, but it was a monumental one for me on a personal level. Let’s recap those 2007 resolutions:

  • Update Glam-Racket’s layouts (I actually did that fairly early in the year. More recently, I managed to tag all of the articles for easier searching. To be honest, I did this more for my benefit than anyone else, which is pretty typical as this blog is a pretty selfish endeavor anyway.)

  • Get married (Done…In what could best be described as a “shotgun wedding.”)

  • Have a baby (See above)

  • Get a job (I know, it’s hard to believe that Glam-Racket doesn’t pay the bills.)

  • Buy 5 new Fall cds (done)

Looking back, that was a fairly substantial list. And while nothing should top getting married, the entire emotional rollercoaster ride that was the birth of our daughter probably managed to do it. So I’m taking a reprieve from any resolutions in ’08.
Besides, it’s going to take all of my strength to condition myself to understand that the idea of “the record” as I remember it is now unhip and a relic from another era.
So get ready 2008! It’s the year that I jump on the digital bandwagon!
As far as this site is concerned, I guess I’ll continue to review a bunch of records that nobody really gives a shit about. I mean, seriously, I’m currently working on a review of Bob Seger’s Smokin’ OP’s album, how stupid is that?! I’m also contemplating adding more pointless lists because I’ve got nothing better to do than, well, make up bullshit lists about bullshit topics.
And then there’s you: the eight loyal readers of this site that return back and briefly skim over what essentially is the product of what a therapist recommended about five years ago.
Oh, but I was so much older then.
I’m younger than that now.
Nonetheless, thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The 2007 Baker's Dozen

Good Lord. Is it that time already? Every year, Glam-Racket compiles 12 albums and then adds 1 more for good measure. Originally, the idea was for people to consider getting one album a month and then get another one for Christmas, a birthday, Thanksgiving, whatever. But since people don’t buy albums anymore, The Baker’s Dozen has changed has been reduced to “Those thirteen albums you should have illegally downloaded this year.”
Yes, Glam-Racket is as reluctant to give up on antiquated music formats in much the same way your Grandmother wouldn’t change from cassettes to cd. We’re old like that, holding on to a forgotten time when music fans bought albums, read liner notes, and then made a copy for their friends on a Maxell XL-II cassette.
Remember kids: home taping kills music!
Without further ado, below is Glam-Racket’s Baker’s Dozen, written in some kind of third person narrative like more than one person came up with this shit. Not so; it’s entirely from the dome of Todd Totale.
The best of the rest follow the top thirteen, but you should check back often to see how frequently I change shit around or add the stuff that I totally overlooked.
And again: If you’re going to whine about it, do so in the comment section and then get your own website and put your precious Robert Pollard album at the top at that fucker.

Baker’s Dozen 2007

1.) RADIOHEAD-In Rainbows
There’s a real possibility that, even without the music to consider, In Rainbows would have to be considered for album of the year on the basis of ingenious marketing alone. The entire “you price it” philosophy is something that would only work in the Radiohead camp, yet the novelty of it assured the band of unprecedented press coverage and a hype that surpassed anything conjured up by a major label.
And before you start thinking that I’m putting In Rainbows at the top of Baker’s Dozen merely on the merits of its overly clever release campaign, open your mouth so that I may insert my erect penis. Because what’s gotten me erect in the first place is the fact that In Rainbows manages to take all of the idosyncracies that made me love Kid A and turn it into an accessibly wonderful piece of work that the whole family can enjoy. Yes the band, known for it’s woefully pretentious image, could have easily rested on that perception and made another vehicle that only their most fervent fans would have enjoyed. But instead, they’ve surprised us all by corralling the electronic blips and beeps and made a remarkably relaxed and confident record.
Which again, points straight back at the entire marketing strategy. This is an “album” in the truest sense of the word, which is becoming a fairly rare anomaly in these days of digital downloads. And to prevent sacrificing their original intentions to a marketplace that is mainly raised on individual tracks, the band constructed a novel plan to keep the entire piece, the new Radiohead album, in the original context, they provided existing a potential fans with an incentive to keep everything in its right place.

2.) AMY WINEHOUSE-Back To Black
3.) ARCADE FIRE-Neon Bible
5.) DEERHUNTER-Cryptograms
6.) ANIMAL COLLECTIVE-Strawberry Jam
7.) OKKERVIL RIVER-The Stage Names
9.) PIG DESTROYER-Phantom Limb
11.) IAN HUNTER-Shrunken Heads
12.) LCD SOUNDSYSTEM-Sound Of Silver
13.) THE SHINS-Wincing The Night Away

And the following are recommended for further listening:

14.) DINOSAUR JR.-Beyond
15.) WILCO-Sky Blue Sky
16.) BATTLES-Mirrored
17.) BAND OF HORSES-Cease To Begin
18.) GRINDERMAN-Grinderman
20.) FIEST-The Reminder
21.) THE BROKEN WEST-I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On
22.) TEGAN & SARA-The Con
23.) THURSTON MOORE-Trees Outside The Academy
24.) SPOON-Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
25.) PANDA BEAR-Person Pitch
26.) PAUL McCARTNEY-Memory Almost Full

Stopping By George's Place

During the wee hours on this day in 1999, Michael Abram, a 33-year-old Liverpudlian, breached the security of George Harrison’s Oxfordshire mansion and stabbed him several times in the chest. Both Harrison’s wife Olivia and his son Dhani helped subdue the attacker by hitting him over the head with a lamp and detaining him until police arrive. George suffered from a collapsed lung but didn’t lose his sense of humor, commenting that Abram “wasn’t auditioning for the Traveling Wilburys.”
But wait, there’s more.
Just a week prior to this incident, Cristin Keleher broke into Harrison’s Maui home. She was discovered by Harrison’s sister-in-law, eating a frozen pizza, drinking root beer, and making long distant phone calls on the home’s telephone.
While Abram was found not guilty by reason of insanity, Keleher was charged with burglary and theft. It was, after all, a DiGiorno pizza that she lifted.
But seriously, what is it about The Beatles and crazy people? What prompts people to seek out and, in some cases, harm the members of this fairly decent pop band? Can’t they target the band’s coattail riders for bringing second-rate facsimiles to the world of music? Couldn’t they focus their attention on the members of the Dave Clark Five so we can stop all this nonsense about inducting them into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame?
While the end of ’99 might have been a shitty way to end the year for Harrison, I think it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t necessarily his worst year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Live Review - House Of Large Sizes

House Of Large Sizes
The Picador-Iowa City, Iowa
December 28, 2007

At the risk of sounding mean, I’m forced to preface any discussion of a House Of Large Sizes reunion show with the origin of their name and the long-time fans that came to see them at the first of four shows on Friday night. House Of Large Sizes was a women’s clothing show geared towards females that required plus-size fashions. It wasn’t a very tactful name and the band House Of Large Sizes lasted much longer than the retail store.
Twenty-one years after the band chose that ridiculous store name as their own moniker; those aforementioned long-time fans could probably fill out the fashions in House Of Large Sizes, Casual Male, and any other big & tall store quite nicely.
I have every right to point this out because my own waist size has increased since those initial encounters. I used to walk to school, but now I sit in a cubicle.
At the same time, the members of House Of Large Sizes don’t seem to have aged a bit. Dave Deibler is every bit of that loveable Charlie Brown as he was back in the day and Barb Schlif has aged wonderfully, transforming herself from an obligatory Doc Marten feminist into a fetching middle-age Mother that holds her own among the rock ‘n roll fellas.
More importantly, House hasn’t aged musically either, or specifically, they don’t sound like they’ve missed a rehearsal in their four-year absence. Now consider the reality that, thanks to some shitty Iowa weather that made travel conditions difficult, they only managed to practice as a trio about half-a-dozen times since announcing these reunion shows as drummer Brent Hanson now considers Minneapolis his home base.
This may have been unnoticed to the nearly sold-out crowd who were treated to another by the numbers, ass-kicking House show, just as if the entire notion of the band’s retirement never even happened. So when you do notice little factoids like this, it points to how amazing this little power-trio is and how sorely they are missed.
Hanson kept the event caterwauling at an incredible velocity, spinning the band through a thorough representation of their entire catalog. But it was Deibler, noticeably excited and looking even a bit nervous before taking the stage, which proved beyond all expectations that this band could still manage to level any band twenty years their junior should they ever decide to return permanently. He stalked the stage with equal parts nervous energy and malicious intention. And, by my own accounts, he emerged victorious.
For sure, there were those in attendance that attempted to relive their youth by pushing their way to the front and stirring the pit into a physical and sweaty endeavor. Even I was overcome with that initial excitement and began the set towards the front of the stage. I lasted four songs until I was reminded that I wasn’t twenty-one anymore and that I was tired of being jostled around by the dreadnecked dude who hadn’t yet discovered the importance of underarm deodorant. As excited as the crowd was to see their instate heroes, they were also much older too. After retreating to the safer confines of the back of the house, I notice several of my original comrades emerging from the still-whirling pit with drunken exhaustion. Through it all, House continued to hammer away at the favorites with little consideration for those old enough to know better.
Eighty minutes in and the band ended the set looking for the non-existent backstage area. Yes, the last time House played here, the venue was called Gabe’s Oasis and there was indeed a backstage dressing room to retreat to. The remodeling job removed it, and the band found themselves cornered on stage by a crowd who wasn’t ready to turn out the lights. With little recourse, the band had no decision but to strap on the instruments they had just taken off and go right into their encore set. And after those songs had been exhausted, the crowd still wasn’t ready to part to allow the band offstage. Deibler instructed the crowd to “go home…We didn’t practice any more songs!” And in case there were any doubts that this would jumpstart additional albums or performances, Dave barked, “We’ll see you in four years,” hinting that this may be an infrequent, yet welcomed ritual.
Again, the amazing thing was how unremarkable the show was, and that is totally meant as a compliment. The first reunion performance couldn’t be considered as the band’s best performance, but it was far from their worst. And given their prep time, their distance between, and (yes) their age, the kickoff show at The Picador was the best performance one could ever expect.

Friday, December 28, 2007

There's Gonna Be A Fire

Once again, it’s snowing in Eastern Iowa and once again, the weather is playing havoc with a show that I’ve been anticipating. A complete account of the House Of Large Sizes reunion shows can be found on Glorious Noise, and the original idea was to back end the questions found there with a few leftover question here at Glam-Racket.
But like a retard, I deleted the leftover questions because I’m all about the shift/delete hotkeys.
There’s a certain amount of trepidation and none of it has anything to do with the weather. You see, HOLS was quite good in their live incarnation and the prospect of a reunion show(s) three years after pulling the plug and nearly twenty years after buying their first Dodge van doesn’t bode well for being able to merely pick up where they left off.
We’ll see.
In lieu of those deleted interview questions, there are a few memories that come to mind when I think about House of Large Sizes.
The first memory concerns Deibler, a fellow classmate in U.N.I.’s “illustrious” broadcasting division. We shared a few classes and one particular semester, Dave was faced with a tough decision: to finish the semester or go on tour with House of Large Sizes.
Dave chose rock and roll.
At the end of the semester, I went into the department’s office to pick up something, perhaps to get an idea of my grades before they were officially printed. House had literally returned from their jaunt a few days prior and there was Deibler, seated at a desk trying to salvage the entire semester by belatedly taking his final. He sheepishly looked up at me without a hint of any Goddamn regret of putting his band before his college education. Yet he still had enough responsibility to know that college ain’t cheap and that he might be able to salvage a C or better, pending the results of that final exam.
There is something to be said about that Iowa work ethic.
I have another memory from when I moved from Cedar Falls to Fort Madison, Iowa, thereby losing touch with the temporary roots laid down within my former college town. I was returning from Minneapolis and took a swing through C.F. I met up with Dave at his house (he and Barb were infinitely generous about unannounced guests, which is something that I’ve never been). They had moved from their Parkade apartment into a non-descript house in the north part of Cedar Falls. As I walked towards their front door, a large goose approached me. At first, I thought the potential contact with nature was cute, until I realized that the fowl was being aggressively territorial. My pace quickened until I reached the safety of their stairs, while the goose seemed satisfied that I posed no threat. Deibler was fairly amused at my predicament, explaining that the goose was named Charlotte and her protectiveness should not be taken personally. He played me a new track from their (then) unreleased album My Ass-Kicking Life (“Nocturnal”) which was a pretty awesome departure from the sound that I had come to expect from House. But the real surprise came after the album was released: when I reached the track “North Cedar” I completely understood the line “Charlotte sees me coming and makes me go around the other way.”
There’s a lot on slice-of-life moments like that throughout HOLS’ repertoire and perhaps the best memory of House is exactly that: those slice-of-life moments when Deibler said something that just seemed to stick with me. Concerning his philosophy towards young upstarts, (“Bands need to remember to practice. At first, we sucked, but then we started to work out the kinks…..the Stones…the Who….”) or chastising me for whining that there weren’t any decent new bands anymore (“There’s lots of good shit out there! You’ve got to go find it because sometimes it doesn’t come to you…especially if you live in a small town.”), Deibler isn’t one to mince words, but he isn’t one to be self-righteous about his advice either.
There was a time I considered that I may have been too lenient on my praise of House simply because of my direction connection with the members. Since that time, I’ve understood that the appreciation was merely enhanced from being able to witness, firsthand, how much the band improved and how quickly they were able to do it. A lot of this had to do with the fact that their primary job was the band. Oh sure, the members did hold down part-time jobs early on, but soon after, even the part-time gigs were traded in favor of targeting a precise section of the country and making ends meet through regular live performances.
It wasn’t until the idea of starting a family came into play before Dave and Barb considered changing this kind of lifestyle. Even then, the pair managed to incorporate their d.i.y. ethos into a new venture. Mohair Pear, the vintage clothing store that they started has proven to be successful enough to move to a new, larger location that, ironically, is just a few feet away from the location where they first began playing some twenty years ago.
And now, in many ways, they’ve come full circle.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas From Glam-Racket!

Back by popular demand, and mainly because I think it's a wonderfully crazy tradition, I'd like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas with another randomly out of place chapter from R. Kelly's Trapped In The Closet. I received both sets on dvd this year because I think they're totally awesome.
Merry Christmas.
Don't sniff coke.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Still Missing Joe

Has it really been five years?
In some ways, I’m glad that Joe Strummer isn’t around to see how ridiculous things have gotten. But then I realize that we probably need him around more than ever, since no one has managed to step up their game to the level of Joe.
And it’s practically unforgettable to think about how low fellow Clash cohort, Mick Jones, has gotten since that time.
But what a class act Strummer was. Even the lean years (Cut The Crap) seem strangely forgiveable because, well because even Joe himself would acknowledge that they were crap.
On the other end of it, he seemed completely humble about the years that everyone reveres. The ones that produced some of the most landmark albums known to rock music.
The ones that you bring out on a regular basis.
The ones that make you miss Joe Strummer even more when you’re done listening to them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

OCD Chronicles: Kate Bush "This Woman's Work"

My current obsession suddenly hit after watching the season/series finale of Extras. In case you’re wondering: the show, in similar fashion to the finale of The Office, was freakin’ brilliant. Season one was ok. Season two was much more awesomer. And the finale managed to turn Gervais into this asshole catch-phrase television star that’s completely forgotten the dismal origins of his career. In the process, he also forgets the one friend that’s stood by him throughout during a time where she really needs a helping hand or, at the very least, an understanding ally.
That ally doesn’t come from Andy Millman. It came from a Kate Bush song, “This Woman’s Work.” It’s been years since I’d heard it, and the gentle reassurance from Bush’s voice fit perfectly as we see Maggie working dismal jobs just to afford to pay the rent on a one-room shitty apartment in a bad part of town. We see her giving up on acting and trading in her dreams for cleaning, washing dishes, and nearly begging for a position at a cell phone store run by Andy’s former manager. Throughout these scenes, we hear Kate tenderly offering “I know you have a little life in you yet,” that inner voice that says to keep going on.
There are times when we need that little voice and, on occasion, there are times when only a song provides it.
Of course, Gervais is something special and, without divulging too much, Andy Millman finally reaches an epiphany about his own priorities in his career and how he’s treated those that he now feels superior over. I’ll leave it to you to check out that powerful scene while I look forward to Ricky’s next televised accomplishment and while I bask in “This Woman’s Work” playing repeatedly in my head.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Keith Richards

It’s Keith Richards’ birthday today, and I couldn’t be happier. Seriously, whenever I look at him, I feel that there’s hope for anyone who completely disregards all form of medical advice in favor of complete superficial pleasure. Face it: you want to be just like Keith, to be able to live exactly like he did with a total blueprint of unhealthy habits, but you’re too chickenshit to do it.
And to top it off: he’s still alive and fairly coherent.
God bless him
I once had a dream when I was married to my first wife. I dreamt that one day I ran into Keith Richards and we struck up a conversation. I invited him over to my house and, as I peppered him with questions and pressed for stories about his passed, I tried to loosen his tounge with my only bottle of Cutty Sark and a six pack of Red Stripe beer. I also let him smoke anywhere he wanted, even after he littered the carpet and furniture with ashes.
By the time midnight rolled around, my ex-wife had enough of Keith’s stories and retired to bed. He, on the other hand, continued to tell stories and, as much as I hated to consider it, I found myself growing tired too.
But one does not kick out Keith Fucking Richards, so I boldly suggested that he retire with me…In the same bed that my ex-wife and I shared. There we were, much to my ex’s annoyance, all three snuggled in bed with Keith still telling stories in between the ex and me. He coughed a lot and shook the bed with each one, but his snores were even louder.
And, regardless of how much trouble I would be facing after the fact, I would totally do the same thing if the opportunity ever presented itself.

Keith Richards was born on this day in 1943

Monday, December 17, 2007

Basking In The Glow Of J. Mascis' Tube Amps

I’m still in somewhat of a Fender guitar afterglow from last week’s Dinosaur Jr. show and that’s translated into a full-fledge barrage of Dino Jr. tunage barking from my car stereo and other music transmitters. Often, my wife is the recipient of my endless blabber, to which she politely responds with an “Uh huh” or “Oh, I see.” The conversation usually starts with me playing a Dinosaur Jr. song, and then going “They played this one” or “They opened the show with this” and then it’s immediately followed with one of the aforementioned standard responses.
So I’ve come up with a list of a few songs that I was hoping would make their setlist but didn’t make the cut.
“The Lung”
The side one closer from You’re Living All Over Me and one of my favorite Dino Jr. tunes ever. The song’s sole lyric (“No way to collapse the lung/That breathes the doubt in everyone”) verges on brilliance in its simplicity.
Another favorite from Living. For the longest time, I always thought this song was about a chick leaving her man because he took too long in scoring dope. I know it has nothing to do with that now, but J. still sounds like he’s totally junked out while his guitar sounds totally rad.
“Mountain Man”
A favorite from the debut. I guess they played this slice o’ metal on a few dates, but Iowa City just wasn’t one of the lucky ones.
“Severed Lips”
Another gem from the debut. Mascis sounds heartbroken during the “I ain’t gonna fester no more” line and, if memory serves, Blake Babies did a pretty sweet version of this on one of their releases.
“No Bones”
Jesus, I love the distortion-overkill at the end of this Bug classic, and would have loved to hear this amp-killer live.
“Keep The Glove”
I’m not sure what this one is on, but I vaguely remember it was part of the Mascis/Barlow/Murph time period. Good tune.
After the original line-up releases, but they did “The Wagon,” another great tune from Green Mind, so sue me for dreaming.
More than anything else, I wish I wouldn’t have left all my 7” singles in the attic of my parent’s house because, in that collection is an original Dinosaur (before they added the “Jr.” for legal reasons) single of “Repulsion.” I would have loved to have all the members sign if I’d planned ahead a little bit better than I did.
Oh well…

A complete account of the show is on Glorious Noise.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Kiss - Dressed To Kill

I’m a latecomer to the Kiss Army.
I’m lying. I secretly want to dismantle the Kiss army and my problems with the band are well documented.
Nevertheless, I do believe I need to know my enemy and try to understand why so many people fell hard for these awfully limited musicians back in the day.
Prior to this album, I had only owned the Gene Simmons solo album (I hope to review that album someday) and a cassette copy of Destroyer which I, heh heh, destroyed after a few years of letting the thing take up precious space in my tape case.
I chose Dressed To Kill because I liked the black and white cover. The contrast was nice, and perhaps the music within was a contrast to what I had heard from the band before.
Immediately, I wonder why I even bother. Dressed To Kill is filled with the same clichéd tripe that bogs down most of their work and that’s saying something from someone that occasionally likes clichéd tripe.
But fuck me: ”She’s a dancer/A romancer/I’m a Capricorn/And she’s a Cancer”?! Are you kidding me?! (“C’mon And Love Me”) And that’s actually one of the good one ones.
The others are the obvious “Rock & Roll All Nite,” and Frehley’s “Getaway.” “Ladies In Waiting” isn’t bad either, until you get to the part where Gene goes “So you been to the market/And the meat looks good tonight.” Seriously, it’s shit like this that gets under my skin to the point where I want to neuter Simmons and create a reality show based entirely on him getting teased by women and not being able to do a goddamn thing about it.
And speaking of neutered: how about Casablanca Record-head Neil Bogart’s shitty production work. Every guitar sounds like it was run through a practice amp and the the drums sound like the were only mic’d at the snare and high hat.
Maybe the members of Kiss should have spent less time looking at the “meat” and spent more time figuring out how to bring more meat to their tepid studio sound.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Shock & Awe

When Ace Frehley took the stage with Kiss in Lakeland, Florida on this day in 1976, he's pretty fucking lucky that he lived to put on his boots another day.
Ace received an electric shock and had to be carried off the stage after the jolt. Paul Stanley immediately offered mouth to mouth, but Ace managed to return to the stage moments later. The band was touring in support of their Rock And Roll Over album and he later used the incident as the inspiration for "Shock Me."
Flash forward to 2007, where Ace finds himself in Myrtle Beach, fronting a Kiss tribute band and their version of the song.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

40 Years After The Death Of Otis Redding

You may have missed it, but today is “Otis Redding Day” in our neighboring state of Wisconsin. Madison, specifically, has the unfortunate designation of being the location where Redding’s plane crashed in the icy waters of Lake Monona on this day 40 years ago. Redding, his manager, the pilot, and all but two members of his backing band Bar-Kays perished in the crash.
Redding’s widow and the sole survivor of the crash, Bar-Kays trumpet player Ben Cauley, were in Madison recently to mark the occasion and to join the mayor and state’s governor in a proper declaration event. It must have been especially difficult for Cauley, who hasn’t visited the town since being pulled from the watery wreckage.
One of the most memorable and moving things I saw at the Rock & Roll Hall was an actual piece of the plane on display. To be that close to the implement that killed a man still accending towards stardom was pretty intense.
Redding was one of those icons that became fabled in my mind because of an early death. Otis shared his martyrdom with Jimi, Janis, and Jim, but he has managed to increase in stature with me while Joplin and Morrisson have taken a diminished role.
Part of that reason is that I hadn’t been oversaturated with Otis Redding material. I mean, everyone’s heard “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” but then when you hit the stuff like “Try A Little Tenderness,” “Mr. Pitiful,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” “Knock On Wood,” and so many other tracks that never received much mainstream radio play, you really begin to understand the loss that took place on December 10, 1967.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Murder of John Lennon

I was reminded that today….actually tonight….was the day that John Lennon was murdered. And that reminded me of the actual event, since I was actually widely awake when it happened. My memory of the event is acute as it was the first rock star death that had a direct emotional impact on me.
Keep in mind, Lennon had just released a comeback album of sorts, after spending several years as nothing more than a Father. So for me, a young teenage boy in the 8th grade, my entire knowledge of Lennon’s doings was based on Rolling Stone and other rock mag articles. And the last read article that I recalled about Lennon were the “lost weekend” ones where John was drinking with Harry Nilsson and getting into bar fights.
I had heard about his semi-retirement and I knew that he had gotten back with Yoko and had a child. But as I lay in my bed listening to WLS on my clock radio that evening, the first response I had when the announcer read something of the news wire about Lennon being shot, the first thing I thought of was that he had fallen off the wagon or something. I imagined that John had gone out to celebrate (since he was coming back with a new album) had a little too much to drink, run his mouth off to the wrong person and then got popped. I swear to you, this is exactly what I was thinking when I heard about the shooting.
I went downstairs and told my parents, specifically my Dad (who I knew was a fan of Lennon), that the radio reporting that he had been shot. They didn’t know his condition at that time, so I wasn’t concerned about it.
When I returned to my bedroom, the announcer broke in again, but was now reporting that Lennon had died from his assailant. , I returned downstairs where my parents were now watching the Tonight show. The moment I uttered “John Lennon just died.” The news broke into the Tonight show with live coverage of the murder.
I went back to my room and cried until I went to sleep while Lennon and Beatles songs played on the clock radio. It was “Imagine” that finally got the waterworks going.
The next morning, I went to Middle school. Once there, I walked directly to the classroom of a 6th grade teacher who the music geeks thought was pretty cool. M.B. was a black man in his late 20’s that sported dreadlocks and a few rock albums in his classroom record collection. Me and a few other fellows met up in his room before the other students arrived. M.B. didn’t speak much, we all didn’t, because what can you say, really, about such a retarded thing like shooting John Lennon?
M.B. quietly took out his copy of The White Album and retrieved the Lennon photograph from the gatefold sleeve. Grabbing a thumbtack, he put the photo on the door facing the lockers while “Dear Prudence” played in the background. It was powerful. It was perfect.
Unfortunately, it was a eulogy for a (still) incomprehensible event.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Candy Colored Clown

Roy Orbison died today in 1988 of a heart attack.
I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan. To be honest, I always associate Roy Orbison with the David Lynch movie Blue Velvet.
You know the scene: the one where Frank Booth takes Jeffrey Beaumont to Ben’s place for a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Ben’s lip-synching of “In Dreams” into a shop light is pretty intense.
As is a later scene where Booth yanks Beaumont out of his Dodge Challenger and beats the shit out of him, screaming “I’ll send you straight to hell, fucker!”
You’re fucking lucky to be alive…
Tip a glass to Roy, fucker.

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam

I don’t know how often a guy can get away with throwing around a word like “genius” or “groundbreaking,” so let me just say this before I put my foot in my mouth and get sided with The Boy Who Cried Wolf: After four hits off a weed bat filled with fairly docile Mexican brown marijuana, Strawberry Jam is a groundbreaking work of genius that should be cited as the Pet Sounds of the Ritalin generation.
Regardless of what actually fuels Animal Collective (pharmaceuticals, mental illness, etc.), there is a real passion to what they’re doing and keep up, goddamnit, because they’ve already moved on to a new instrument, rhythm, or dynamic by the time you just figured out the one before it.
And when Animal Collective can’t think of words, they just repeat the same ones over and over or make noises that hark back to Brian Wilson circa ’65.
It’s lazy to regard Strawberry Jam as an “acid rock” record because anyone’s who’s ever tampered with psychedelics will tell you that there’s so much going on at once throughout this album that it wouldn’t be conducive to L.S.D.. No, this is an album that works double-time to reach your synapse, because it has to get through all of the years of dependency and increased tolerance.
Besides, there are moments of real terror and tension around every corner of Strawberry Jam. Dynamics change, suddenly, jumping from a cute falsetto into a bloodcurdling scream while distorted guitars and vintage synthesizers pop in and out of the mix with precise intentions. I have three words of warning to anyone considering dropping some paper with Strawberry Jam as the soundtrack in the background: Art Linkletter’s daughter.
This is the perfect album after indulging in your favorite prescribed cocktail and it could be the album where you can actually hear the joy inside of those notes and forego the need to refill those aforementioned scripts.
Strawberry Jam just may be the holistic ingredient that you need.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Panda Bear - Person Pitch

With major spins on both Black Moth Super Rainbow and Animal Collective themselves, I guess you could point to a specific group of psilocybin eating musicians possessing a lot of my listening time in 2007. Noah Lennox, one of the members of Animal Collective, also received a few spins with his Panda Bear moniker and the recent Person Pitch.
Lennox has a huge Brian Wilson fetish. No really, to the point where he actually sounds like the dude, if Brian Wilson ever decided to create a sonic masterpiece using nothing but loops and other repetitive patterns.
As nice as the nostalgia sounds, and as honest as Lennox is to the spirit of Brian Wilson, something’s too easy about the method he’s chosen here. Not so much with the vocal arrangements, those are top notch throughout Person Pitch, but with the idea that loops, prerecorded bits of musical material, are the foundation of the album’s entire sonic direction.
He comes close with achieving such lofty goals, namely on the twelve minute plus “Good Girl/Carrots,” which slowly transforms itself into more than a few wonderful directions. With a few more songs like this, we may have indeed found a modern suitor to the genre that Wilson initiated before sinking from the weight of its lofty intentions.
At its worst, Person Pitch sounds like a decent senior thesis that’s gotten way too much notoriety around campus. But whereas Smile has been permanently added to the reference library, Person Pitch sounds like it could fade into the woodwork when the next batch of talented freshmen roll in.

Trampled Under Foot

On this day in 1979, 11 people died at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio as a crowd pushed their way towards general admission seating shortly before The Who performed there.
I remember the event because it scared the beejezus out of me. I had never been to a rock concert before, and the imagery of crazed, longhairs running for the seats played over and over in my head. Never mind that there were no actual seats that the people were running to, the detailed account in Rolling Stone magazine after the event made going to a rock concert sound like a dangerous proposition.
The concert took place only a few months after the band put Keith Moon in the ground and, perhaps, the incident should have been construed as an omen to consider. After all, no band in their right mind soldiers on without Keith Fucking Moon, do they?
But as we learned, The Who soldiers on, even when half the original line-up has passed. Even when eleven fans perish on their way to come see you.
One of my favorite tv shows from the time, WKRP in Cincinnati did an episode on it, which I think was/is incredibly cool.
It wasn’t until I had the chance to actually go to a rock concert that I realized when 11 people die on their way to the auditorium while actually being inside said auditorium, it’s probably the result of some incredible neglect on behalf of the facility.
Because the worse thing I’ve ever seen at a concert was some dude jacking off in the stands after a Grateful Dead stands.
And nobody trampled on other people trying to get away from him…

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Last Jump

"I can't wait to meet God, and ask why he didn't make me go faster on some of those jumps, why he put me through all this pain. He knows I'm not evil."
Evel Knievel, 2006