Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Quick One While I'm Away

It's been a few days and I haven't had time to ruminate on anything. Too busy at work, too tired at home, but I didn't want to ignore my responsibilities. With that being said, I am looking forward to hearing the new Ryan Adams album and next week's Fiona Apple. When I get a chance, I will let you know what I think about both.

In the mean time, this is what my iPod is playing:

1. "Maggie Turns to Flies" by Robert Pollard
2. "Heliotrope" by the Geraldine Fibbers
3. "Though I Know She Lies" by Chris Bell
4. "Interest Positions" by Guided By Voices
5. "Ball of Twine" by Louis XIV
6. "Brass Buttons" by Gram Parsons
7. "Sunrise, Sunset" by Bright Eyes
8. "Sweet Sunshine" by Sonic Youth
9. "Frail and Bedazzled" by Smashing Pumpkins
10. "Recovering" by Robert Pollard

Interesting juxtaposition of "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Sweet Sunshine."

Also, #10, "Recovering," is from the forthcoming Robert Pollard album From A Compound Eye, one of his strongest releases in years. When it comes out next year, buy it. I will probably review it before its release.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Premature Compilation

For years, a friend of mine, Greg Dwinnell of Eggbert Records, organized an annual Top Ten list. He would collect Top Ten lists from everyone he knew and then tabulate the results. He would publish the tabulations and the individual lists in Yeah Yeah Yeah magazine and also send a print out to everyone involved. And because Greg was Greg, he would get amazing contributions from such luminaries as Elvis Costello, John Easdale, Kristian Hoffman, and many others including me. It was always fun to see who picked what and what the resulting collective Top Ten would be.

Sadly, Greg has passed on. He lost his battle with cancer at a very young age. I haven't worried too much about a Top Ten list since he passed.

But suddenly, I was looking at my CD collection and was thinking that this hasn't been much of a year, so far for music. And then I decided to figure out my Top Ten for 2005, so far. Of course this might change in the next three months. Maybe the next Ryan Adams album will be listenable, or I hope the new Fiona Apple lives up the the anticipation, and what will the "Bubble" soundtrack by Robert Pollard sound like?

But for now, this is what I have (in no particular order):

1. Beck "Guero"
2. Bright Eyes "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning"
3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds "Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus"
4. Death Cab For Cutie "Plans"
5. Bob Dylan "No Direction Home"
6. Spoon "Gimme Fiction"
7. Louis XIV "The Best Little Secrets Are Kept"
8. Stephen Malkmus "Face the Truth"
9. White Stripes "Get Behind Me Satan"
10. The New Pornographers "Twin Cinema"

I know this isn't the most revolutionary list, but it is what I have been enjoying this year.

With that being said, this is what my iPod has been enjoying:

1. "Kings of the Wild Frontier" by Adam & the Ants
2. "Criminal" by Fiona Apple
3. "Sins of My Father" by Tom Waits
4. "Floating Friends" by Archers of Loaf
5. "Wild Thing" by X
6. "I Need You" by the Muffs
7. "This Is The New Shit" by Marilyn Manson
8. "The End of the End of the Ugly" by Sonic Youth
9. "Burning Too" by Fugazi
10. "What I See" by Black Flag

Not much new there, but it does have a mind of its own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time?

My love affair with music began in the fourth grade. And while there is plenty of amazing music out there, certain albums have, to use a cliché, blown my mind, sending me off in directions I never expected. Like a lightning bolt from above or a grand revelation, occasionally, if we are lucky, music can change our lives.

The following list isn’t necessarily complete or final and it is not intended to be a Top Ten list but it is a good history of music that somehow, someway shook me up.

Kiss "Alive" – ‘nuff said. Super heroes with guitars.

David Bowie "Diamond Dogs" – In the fifth grade, a friend called and said he’d found a stash of Playboy magazines in his garage. Once I showed up, he instead pulled out a copy of "Diamond Dogs." I thought I had been tricked. Of course, he also had the magazines, so we listened to the album while enjoying his father’s secret stash.

Pink Floyd "The Wall" – I could sing this album all the way through. It seemed to say everything that need to be said, at the time.

Dead Kennedys "Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables" – First heard "I Kill Children" during a Christian "evils of rock music" sermon. Was immediately hooked. "God told me to skin you alive," indeed.

Black Flag "Jealous Again" – Still one of the best slabs of American hardcore in only five songs. What 15-year-old hasn’t screamed "Why can’t I do anything without being yelled at?"

The Clash "London Calling" – Probably my all time favorite record (if I have to choose).

The Cure "Let’s Go To Bed" – While not an album (this single was later part of the Japanese Whispers collection), when I first heard the Cure I was hooked. Of course, they have pretty much sucked since "Head On The Door," but that is another story.

Husker Du "Candy Apple Grey" – While I ultimately prefer "New Day Rising," this was my first exposure to an amazing band.

Nirvana "Bleach" – Due to some word-of-mouth buzz, I mail ordered this album on vinyl and was immediately hooked. Still prefer it to "Nevermind," but I think "In Utero" is my favorite.

Guided By Voices "Bee Thousand" – Masterpiece. This album began my love affair with everything Robert Pollard has produced. While not everything lives up to the lofty standards of this release, he still writes some amazing stuff and I always look forward to what is coming next.

And some may say it is sad that nothing has blown my mind since 1994, but maybe that is a product (dare I say it) of age. There is plenty of great music out there but I don’t know if it has the same importance at 30 as it did at 9 or 12 or 17 or 23. Or maybe I am being too hard on everything from the last ten years. Maybe I am jaded. Should Beck, or the White Stripes, or Death Cab For Cutie or Bright Eyes, or The Shins have blown my mind? I don’t know. But maybe the next important record is just around the corner. I know one thing, I’ll keep looking.

So with that being said, what is blowing my iPod’s mind?

1. "Divide & Conquer" by Husker Du
2. "Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing" by the Minutemen
3. "I Know Where The Summer Goes" by Belle & Sebastian
4. "Me-Jane" by PJ Harvey
5. "Uncomplicated" by Elvis Costello
6. "Moonshiner" by Uncle Tupelo
7. "Lick and a Promise" by Aerosmith
8. "Lay It Down Clown" by the Replacements
9. "The Wait" by Metallica
10. "Ms. Wrong" by That Dog

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Kings of the Stone Age

On Sunday, I picked up the self-titled release by Black Mountain. Driving home from Amoeba Records, I put the highly-anticipated disc into my CD player and was … disappointed. "Modern Music," the first track on the disc sounded like a mix of Kings of Leon and Jim Carrol, but kind of dumb. I ejected the disc and listened to Public Image instead.

But then I gave the disc a second listen, and I liked it. After the first song, it gets really good. Black Mountain are an interesting pastiche of influences that they are not afraid to flaunt. From the Tony Iommi guitar riff on "Don’t Run Our Hearts Around," to the Velvet Underground strum of "No Satisfaction," Black Mountain are masters of a distinct breed of rock that other bands such as Queens of the Stone Age can only dream of attempting.

Vocalist Stephen McBeam’s voice is remniscent of Lou Reed while remaining unique, while Amber Webber comfortably echoes Polly Harvey and, maybe, Chan Marshall, especially during her solo performance on "Heart of Stone."

Part of the Canadian music collective that spawned Jerk With A Bomb and Pink Mountaintops, Black Mountain prove that The New Pornographers aren’t the only indie supergroup to come from the great white north.

And, while I recommend Black Mountain, here is what my iPod is pushing:

1. "Wish" by Nine Inch Nails
2. "Lovey Dovey" by Local H
3. "Long Distance Man" by Guided By Voices
4. "I'll Be Your Sister" by Superchunk
5. "I Found A Reason" by the Velvet Underground
6. "Stranded On Death Row" by Dr. Dre
7. "The Air Near My Fingers" by the White Stripes
8. "Baba O'Riley" by The Who
9. "Timothy" by Jet
10. "Let It Bleed" by the Rolling Stones

Thank you, and good day.

Monday, September 19, 2005

After all this, won't you give me a smile?

A popular personality litmus test is to ask someone what his or her favorite thing is. Their favorite book, movie, record, or band. I’ve always kind of shrugged off these kinds of questions since most of the time it depends on mood and time of day.

Favorite group has always been somewhat easy since I’ve obsessed over certain bands for years. Basically, in order, my favorite bands have included Kiss, Black Flag, U2, The Cure, Husker Du, Nirvana, and finally Guided By Voices. Now that GBV are kaput, I should qualify GBV as "Robert Pollard and all associated projects."

But like favorite movie or book, favorite album can be a very difficult question. You can wake up everyday with a different favorite album. But in response to this very question by my stepdaughter, I have thought long and hard and have come up with a very real answer: London Calling by the Clash.

Now the Clash has never been my favorite band. Top ten probably, but never my favorite band, but this album may be my all time favorite record.

And my reasons follow.

I had heard the Clash’s debut album sometime in the early ‘80’s and when Combat Rock came out in 1982, they were everywhere, but the band still hadn’t completely click. However, the summer before my junior year in high school, 1983, I spent almost everyday driving around in my friend Chris’ Chevy Chevette listening to London Calling. The album was the soundtrack to that summer simply because it was stuck in the tape player. I remember that there was no air conditioning in the car since our other friend Tony had cut the power when installing Chris’ tape deck, but we had London Calling.

And the album has stuck. I love the Clash but their first album hasn’t quite aged that well. Give ‘Em Enough Rope still rocks but is flawed. Sandinista is just too bloated and unfocused. And Combat Rock, while really damn good, isn’t a great conclusion to a great band. London Calling is really the only album that matters by what has been called the only band that matters.

From the lock-step guitars at the beginning on "London Calling" to the jubilant pop of "Train in Vain" a better album has not been made. Other stand out cuts include the ragged "Brand New Cadillac," the wistful "Lost in the Supermarket," and Paul Simonon’s defiant "Guns of Brixton."

Ultimately, I decided this was my favorite album simply because over the past 20 plus years, a month has not gone by where I haven’t listened to this album either partially or totally. It still sounds as fresh as it did when I first listened to it all the way through in 1983. So maybe that is what it takes: name an album that after 20 years of regular listening, you still look forward to hearing again.

But before we go, here is what the iPod is thinking today:

1. "Faulty Times" by Black Mountain
2. "Come Back to Camden" by Morrissey
3. "Motion Picture Soundtrack" by Radiohead
4. "Tropicalia" by Beck
5. "Junk Bonds" by Sebadoh
6. "Unreflected" by Mazzy Star
7. "Exploding Anthills" by Guided By Voices
8. "Fun Time" by Peter Murphy
9. "Kingpin" by Wilco
10. "Dreams Told By Mofo" by the Minutemen

Sunday, September 18, 2005

New Music Sunday

Spending a lazy Sunday afternoon at home. I drove up to Hollywood this morning to shop at Amoeba on Sunset. Picked up the Black Mountain album, the new Calexico/Iron & Wine CD, two Replacements discs ("Tim" and "Please to Meet Me"), the Stooges "Fun House" reissue, Descendents "All," the Damned "Damned Damned Damned," and Public Image Ltd. "First Issue." As you can tell I was on a sort of retro mood. On my list, which they didn't have in stock were the CDs by Art Brut and the Hazard Hotrods.

And just so we don't forget, here are the last 10 songs played on my iPod:

1. "Severed Lips" by the Blake Babies
2. "Children of the Damned" by Iron Maiden
3. "Mr. Tambourine Man" by Bob Dylan
4. "Long Snake Moon" by PJ Harvey
5. "Code Blue" by T.S.O.L.
6. "Mind Games" by John Lennon
7. "The Game" by Love & Rockets
8. "Master of Puppets" by Metallica
9. "Fall Down Easy" by Uncle Tupelo
10. "Nike-a-Go-Go" by the Misfits

(You try juxtaposing T.S.O.L. and John Lennon.)

Even my iPod is in a retro mood. But just in case you think I am one of those guys whose favorite band is still, like, The Police or whatever they liked in high school, some recent artists I listen to include Death Cab For Cutie, Interpol, Sufjan Stevens, The New Pornographers and Bright Eyes. The last concert I went to was the New Pornographers, and before that it was Beck. So, I ain't dead yet.

Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out my way around the purpose of this blog, but expect some reviews of new CDs, some recommendations on old CDs, top 10 lists, some stories of my retail past and, of course, what my iPod is thinking.

So, until next time, don't be such an idiot.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Welcome to recordjerk!

I worked 14 years in record stores, 3 in a mom & pop and eleven at a major record retailer. I love music but customers drove me up the wall. Thus I was as much of a jerk as a I was a clerk, so I was a "recordjerk." But most customers are stupid and I can't help that.

Anyway, with the digital music revolution, I have embraced the new style and spend too much time listening and loading my iPod. I have a couple of thousand CDs and have put most of them on my iPod. One thing I notice when listening to songs on shuffle, my iPod has moods. I know it is just a electronic device, but sometimes it is amazing the string of songs it compiles. Just to get an idea of what I am talking about and what I like, here are the last 10 songs that came up on my iPod (set to shuffle):

1. "Slate" by Uncle Tupelo
2. "All Things Must Pass" by George Harrison
3. "Boogie With Stu" by Led Zeppelin
4. "We're Desperate" by X
5. "*******" by the Flaming Lips
6. "Saint Simon" by The Shins
7. "Silver and Gold" by Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros
8. "Acoustic Guitar" by Magnetic Fields
9. "Cirrus Minor" by Pink Floyd
10. "Jealous Guy" by John Lennon

Go figure out what this means.

I will check back in to see what my iPod is thinking about, but those are some of the 9,000+ songs I have on my 3rd generation, 40GB iPod.