Birthday Wishes for Elvis and Bowie

Elvis Presley (1935) and David Bowie (1947) share a birthday today.  I figure there’s enough celebration of Bowie today, that I’m not needed.  In celebration of Elvis, here is my favorite song of his.  The opening scene of his movie King Creole, “Crawfish” with Kitty White is excellent!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQOlgXaSDy8

 

This might be my only post for a few days.  My primary computer died last week; the piece I was working on for today is on that hard drive.  I will provide a more jam-packed offering as soon as I am able.

Community Noise Playlist #1

I’ve gathered together a collection of songs, and put them together into a YouTube playlist.  I was working with Spotify, but I could not find 4 of these 13 songs there, and everything is on YouTube.  If you need better sound dynamics, I’m sure you can find sources elsewhere for most of these.  I’m really sorry for the commercial interruptions – that’s not my doing.   Playlist #1

No theme for this playlist.  Simply an introduction to songs that I think are great and songs that I want people to listen to.  And if you don’t like one, don’t listen to it, but you’re still better off knowing about it.  Listen to anther song.  Here’s the list:

  1. Bauhaus — Bela Lugosi’s Dead
  2. Of Monsters and Men — Little Talks
  3. Hoodoo Gurus — (Let’s All) Turn On
  4. X — Soul Kitchen
  5. Frank Black — Nadine
  6. Patti Smith — Birdland
  7. Goat Girl — Country Sleaze
  8. Glass Animals — Youth
  9. Jack Kerouac — McDougal Street Blues
  10. Tom Waits — Jersey Girl
  11. Liz Phair — The Tra La La Song
  12. Gil Scott-Heron — The Bottle
  13. The Who — Love Reign O’er Me

Here are some liner notes:

Bauhaus.  Cool song to start a set – the long intro makes you settle in a little bit.  I recently re-watched Bowie’ film, The Hunger, which uses this song in the opening scene, and I have to say, the movie makes me less interested in being a vampire.

Of Monsters and Men.  As long as we’re talking about monsters…

Hoodoo Gurus.  A much forgotten band from the 1980s, these guys really had the stuff.  If I make a top 5 list of favorite-ever songs, I think this would be on there somewhere.  Great use of tandem vocals as instruments.

X. These guys! Harmonizing vocals and speed guitar from a rockabilly-punk band, these guys are fantastic.  I love the idea of cover songs, as long as the band make the song there own.  This is a good example of that.

Frank Black.  I just like how the song shimmers.  I like how it sounds like Country music, which I don’t listen to.  A long time ago, I went to a show in Santa Barbara.  John Doe, of X, opened, then FB and the Catholics, the headliners, played.  When Frank came out, he told this story; he said he’d promised John not to tell the story.  We’d had rains just that day or the day before, and I’m telling you, even for a Seattleite, when it rains in Santa B., man, it really rains.  So Frank tells us that John owns a ranch in the area, and his road flooded and he couldn’t drive out.  Luckily, John’s a private pilot, so he walked over to his neighbor’s farm and borrowed the crop duster, and flew himself into the show.   Rock ‘n’ Roll, baby.

Patti Smith.  Love Patti.  Love her poetry and her songs and her books and her photography and her persona.  She doesn’t just have the stuff, she is the stuff.

Goat Girl.  Favorite song of 2016.  I can’t wait to see what they can put out in 2017.

Jack Kerouac.  Sometime in the 1950s, Steve Allen invited Kerouac onto his talk show.  They talked, normal chit-chat that you hear on talk shows, then Steve invited Jack to read several pieces of his poetry, while Steve played little jazz riffs on the piano.  Later, they went into a studio and made a spoken word / jazz album.  (I’ve read this both ways – maybe the studio sessions came before the talk show appearance?  Doesn’t matter.)  I am generally interested in spoken word mixed with music – watch this space for more.

Glass Animals.  I joined a record-of-the-month club earlier this year, and I acquired this album in August.  (I’ll write a piece about the club later.)  I’d never heard of the Glass Animals, but I really like this record.  I have to admit, I have no idea what to do with it.  I mean, I’m no master of the segue, but this one is puzzling.  I love that.  It means, I hope, that I’m still growing and still finding new things that interest me.  I discovered that I have a need – can somebody help me with a beginner’s guide to Hip Hop?

Tom Waits.  There’s a TV concert somewhere on YouTube where Tom makes fun of himself – people always wondered what it would sound like if he sang a lot of “sha la las”.  It’d sound pretty good.

Liz Phair.  We’ll follow up the ‘sha la las” with some ‘tra la las’.  There’s a really cool compilation album, Saturday Morning Cartoon’s Greatest Hits, where artists cover theme songs from old-time cartoons like, The Archies, Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Speed Racer, and this from The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.

Gil Scott-Heron.  I love this song.  Don’t know much about him, but he has some songs on my MP3 player.  And the incredible video is 1970s-bleak-cool.  I cannot find a version of this to buy/download – I’ve searched for vinyl and digital, I’ve searched Amazon, Spotify, and the local record shops.  There is a nine-minute version, by somebody else, but I don’t want that.  This is the version.

The Who.  This is a good way to end a night.  I don’t listen to The Who very often anymore.  At one time I would have called them my favorite band, and I still think they’re great.  I have all of my old cassette tapes out in my woodshop and I can play them on this crappy little stereo that I have out there. I imagine that eventually the sawdust will kill everything, but so far, we’re still working.  Out there, sometimes, I’ll listen to Quadrophenia, and I’ll listen to both sides back to back (it’s a double album: 4 LP sides equates to two sides of a cassette).  And when this song comes on, last song of side B, I know it’s time to go do something else.  I’ll start cleaning up and close down the shop for the night, and when the song’s over, I’ll go inside and do something else.  This song, is a great song to close a set and wrap up an evening.

 


© Community Noise 2017.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Winter Break

I’m out of rhythm due to the holidays.  My intention is to post on Sunday evenings, with sporadic miscellaneous, posts in between.  I suppose it doesn’t matter.

For the past several years, for Winter Break, I’ve been traveling somewhere looking for sunshine and warmth.  San Diego, Palm Springs, and Tucson, Arizona have all been recent winter destinations, and Palm Springs has been the repeat choice.  That’s what I did this year.

Generally, for my sunshine-hunting vacation, I’ll rent a convertible.  Cars make me a little claustrophobic and I like to be outside, so when I drive to a hike or to the beach or to lunch in the next town over, I can put the top down and woohoo!  This year, I was anticipating it being colder than usual, and I made a reservation for a less glamorous hard-top car.  I got to the rental counter at the airport, and was hit with the manager’s special.  Thus, I spent 4 days driving around in a brand new, bright yellow, convertible, The Dead Milkmen – Bitchin’ Camaro.

The car had (free) satellite radio, which really isn’t very good.  Most of the stations are bad: poorly curated, redundant, and an absence of soul.  You can’t have algorithms and accountants programming your music.  You need a real person, passionate about their music and wanting to share, to curate playlists for you. I ended up listening to a lot of opera on the trip, which is beyond unusual for me.  But flipping through the satellite channels, #74, Metropolitan Opera Radio was the clear winner, and surely the Metropolitan knows more about opera than I.  Here’s a taste:  Verdi: Aida — “Gloria all’ Egitto” …and here’s a full bite:  Verdi – Aida

Finally, for several weeks, and all during my sunshine-hunting trip, I couldn’t get this song out of my head: Jesca Hoop – Pegasi  .  I love the textures of the two guitar parts and the cohesion of the guitars with voice as instrument.  I believe this song will be on a new record set for a February 2017 release with Sub Pop Records.

I hope your winter break brought the gift of music.

 


© Community Noise 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

Reach Outside of Yourself

I really enjoy the times that musicians collaborate into areas outside of their norm, outside of their comfort zone.  My favorite recent example is Yo-Yo Ma and his foray into bluegrass:  Yo-Yo Ma and bluegrass

Here, he shows another side of himself.  He’s still the cello virtuoso – you can still hear that – but listen, there’s other stuff going on.  He’s smiling and laughing with his colleagues.  He’s not in the front of the orchestra, he’s just a bloke on stage with some other players.  The sounds are incredible, congruent, and unexpected.

As long as we’re on the Bluegrass theme, I love love love the collaboration of Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, and the best of those efforts is “Black Dog”: Robert and Alison

Which one has the googly eyes for the other?  I’ve debated this with people.  I guess it goes both ways.  These songs, this collaboration, and this concert in particular, is one of the greatest things I’ve discovered in the past several years.

(If you need a reminder for the original sound:  Led Zep and ‘Black Dog’

Hey, hey mama said the way you move
Gon’ make you sweat, gon’ make you groove
Ah ah child way ya shake that thing
Gon’ make you burn, gon’ make you sting
Hey, hey baby when you walk that way
Watch your honey drip, I can’t keep away

Another favorite in this realm is the work that Mudhoney did with Jimmie Dale Gilmore.  On a 5-song EP, each played one Mudhoney song and each played one JDG song, and then they played together on a cover of the Townes Van Zandt composition, “Buckskin Stallion Blues”: Mudhoney / Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Steve Turner’s kickass guitar work really seems to propel Jimmie’s voice into a new area for him to explore.  That’s what reaching out does, and it’s exciting.  (You might guess that I picked this up as a fan of Mudhoney, and not so much of JDC.  You’d be correct.)

About a year ago I was at the Sky Cries Mary show in Seattle with a friend of mine and I was telling her about the Mudhoney/JDG thing, and a hipster leaned into us and asked, “Did you say Mudhoney did an album with Jimmie Dale Gilmore?”  I said “yes”.  He said, “I’ll have to check it out.”  Nothing here is “new new”, but I hope that the reader will find something s/he had not previously been listening to, something personally new.  Tell me about something on your list where a musician is reaching outside of their norm!

 


© Community Noise 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Operators

I have seven nephews, all adults now, and I have very different relationships with each of them.  A few years ago, my brother’s boy, Tr, asked me if I listened to The Pixies.  ?  Of course I do.

I advised him that a first take might suggest that The Pixies are about one fat man screaming and singing, and another man attacking his guitar like he’s trying to strangle it.  Only good can come of such things.  Continue on down the road and The Pixies are about so much more.  I recommended some Pixies’ songs for him to try out, like this one:

“Is She Weird”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z-Orh7dpKU

We shared a few other things, and, apparently, his son learned to dance when listening to Beat Happening:

“Other Side”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpymHxlmfUM

He’s really into Wolf Parade.

“Fine Young Cannibals”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyfTlvizc1M

 

Since then, we seem to have developed a really good relationship around and about music that we’re listening to.  It’s been awhile now.  He hasn’t been on FB much recently.  I guess having two little boys is blowing his free time. We were able to chat a little bit at Thanksgiving this year.

 

He had to say “whah whah, wha, whah whah whah” to me over and over and over.  Sometimes I really struggle with the spoken language.  I finally heard him right, the band is Car Seat Headrests.  I guess the bloke used the back of his car as his recording studio, so named himself after what was in front of him.

“Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccztRby3FAk

 

It’s good sing-along music.  I’d heard this song before on the radio.  It didn’t knock me over.  The problem with the radio is that I’ll have it on when I’m doing stuff, so it really takes something to knock me over.  (Jack White’s “I’m Shakin’” is an example of something on the radio that knocked me over good.)  So that’s another good reason to read/write a blog – you have to designate time to pay attention and listen to what you’re listening to.  I’m starting to like this stuff.  Here’s another sampling, this one more noisy.  I like noise.

“Vincent”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEsItsZphwQ

 

That same weekend, Tr sent me an e-mail with another recommendation.  Next up, we have Operators playing a couple of songs for us.

“Cold Light”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7I97s00II0

“Blue Wave”:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u9GLyaWgXg

 

Operators are good.  There’s a nice feel to these songs, lots of good sounds and instrumentations.  It’s a full sound.  Are they a little too poppy?  Dunno.  I’m still trying to figure this out.  For some songs, here and there, I think they’re really pretty enjoyable to have on the stereo.

 


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Rough Trade

September 2004 I was on vacation in London.  I went to the enormous flea market on Portobello Road. I was looking for Roman coins and pocket-sized trinkets to take home.  Quickly growing weary of the crowds, I walked a block over to try to find lunch. Bang! There was the Rough Trade Record Shop.  Food waited for me.  It was the 25th Anniversary of The Clash’s London Calling, and they played it over and over.  Great ambiance, any decade!  Now a pilgrimage for me when I’m in town, Rough Trade is a really cool place.

I noted recently, for me, a spree of new music.  Actually new, not just new-to-me.  Some of this spree is the result of Rough Trade Records’ 40th anniversary this past October, in which, I trolled their website and YouTube pages to see what they’ve been up to.  More specifically, I wanted to buy some stuff to thank them for their great contributions to the cause.

Great stuff I find!

Let’s start with Goat Girl.  I haven’t been this excited for new music in a decade.  So far they’ve only released 2 songs, which I have on a beautiful 7” vinyl record.  There are a few videos on-line of them playing live shows, unlistenable recordings with dark, problematic camera angles.  Their music is a little dark, but properly recorded, they are sharp and completely listenable.  Here’s “Country Sleaze”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hD2k-z-uaBI

Song is sultry, dirty, sexy, but more important, it has an aura.  There’s style and grace and mood.  Lyrics are lurid and kinda icky.   I fucking love this song.  With great anticipation, show us what’s next – please!!

Next Up, let’s see what The Prettiots has made available for us.  One lovely 7” vinyl record and one full-length, which I haven’t listened to yet.  They have several videos on-line, including a nifty set from the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts.  Here’s “Boys (I Dated In Highschool)”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jfol9YlSvPc

I have a personal ukulele story, as everyone must have, and mine goes like this.  Several years ago, I was in Seattle’s Belltown having a cocktail with a woman; we each were trying to figure out the other.  There was this hipster bloke, knit cap, beard, and thrift store-tidy, looked probably like he chopped his own wood for heat.  If you live in Seattle or Portland, you’ve seen the guy a thousand times.  Dude is rambling on and on about ukulele teaching and how there must be a huge shortage of ukulele instructors.  This was somehow going to be his ticket, man.  Meltem and I laughed.  Later on, I had this dream, where I walked into a huge ballroom at a downtown hotel and it was full of ukulele instructors, and this was a professional conference for them to co-mingle, workshop, and discuss the art of ukulele instructing.  It wasn’t clear how I got there.  I awoke with genuine snickering, though knowing my own sanity could be questioned.

Despite my personal ukulele story, it’s easy to take Kay Kasparhauser seriously.  With Lulu Prat, they write excellent songs with lyrics smart and cutting.  Cute, but firm.  Strong.  I like.  Generally listening to music, I am drawn into the instrumentation – the sounds, the playing, the structure, and the noises – but The Prettiots make us listen to what they have to say.  Still, with just a ukulele, bass, and drums, they’re interesting to listen to.

We’ll end today’s lesson with a shout out to Parquet Courts.  I have their 13-song CD, Human Performance.  This is much more traditional, and although that in itself is not complementary, I like this album.  I’ve listened to it now a few times through.  A few parts remind me of old Devo songs, like in “I Was Just Here”.  There’s a section in “One Man No City” that reminds of Velvet Underground drone.  (That was completely unexpected – nobody, nobody, reminds me of VU.)  That said, I wouldn’t say these guys are copy cats.  There is a lot going on.  It feels vibrant and loud and good.

Here’s “One Man, No City”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UYm61bsM14

Check ‘em out.

 


© Community Noise 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Why?

I’ve been interested in listening to, grooving to, and sharing new music with people for over 30 years.  I’ve lost some abilities in this – both loosing people to share with and loosing avenues to discover new stuff.  I’m starting to find new avenues.  Now I’m trying to find more community to share with and to give me insight to what they are listening to.  This blog is my first attempt, in what I hope to be a series of attempts.  We’ll see what happens.

Honestly I think, over the past 20 years, there’s been less new stuff worthy of loving than is acceptable.  I know there’s stuff I’ve missed.  And right now, right or wrong, I’m sensing a spree of new bands, a new generation, and that excites me. Optimism!

Almost as important as “new music” is “new-to-me music”.  I’ve picked up on things 20-, 30-, 40-years old that I’d never heard before, and I’d like to be sharing some of that.  .I’ll try to understand how some new stuff relates to some old stuff.

 

Here’s your chance to join a new community, listen to stuff in your living room.  Send in comments on what you see and send in ideas for the rest of us.  It’ll be our little community for noise.