Wayne Coyne decides to fly extra heavy…

Wayne Coyne

Wayne Coyne on stage with large hands.

… by adding a deactivated frag grenade to his carry on luggage.

Apparently, Coyne, the lead singer for the Flaming Lips, took the grenade, a party decoration which was gutted and painted gold, and nonchalantly tossed it in his bag. Of course, when the bag went through security at Will Rogers Airport, alarms went off and the terminal was shutdown until it was determined that the grenade was harmless.

You might know Coyne as the mastermind behind “7 Skies H3“, the Lips’ 24-hour-long song, or the Gummy Song Skull/Fetus releases, where USB drives containing mp3s were encased in an edible gummy brain and fetus, respectively. The band is also known to be active on Twitter, where they’ve made a common practice of actually conversing with their fans, and at least once appearing at one’s house party for an impromptu performance. These past events might lead one to believe that the grenade debacle was part of another stunt, but according to Coyne, it wasn’t at all.

The singer took back to his Twitter account to say, “Sorry Sorry Sorry!! Everyone that was inconvenienced because of my grenade at OKC airport!!” — a line that sounds uncannily like just another non-sequitor in Coyne’s standard on-stage banter.

Spotlight: Early 20th Century

Tin Pan Alley - New York

AP Photo

Sometimes I feel we’re obsessed so much with musical styles and techniques from the 1950s to 1980s that we forget the kinds of gems that were created before, during and after World War I. Much of the most famous songs from this time period was generated at the numerous music publishing companies in Tin Pan Alley, seen in the image here. As a hub for popular music of the era, an inordinate amount of now-standard tunes were penned here, including songs that are forever ingrained into American culture like Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” and the Albert Von Tilzer classic “Take Me Out to the Ball Game“, which, of course, is most famously known for being sung at the seventh inning stretch at all baseball games.

I put together a playlist below of some tracks from the 10s, 20s and 30s, many of which came out of Tin Pan Alley or were very clearly influenced by the sound, including a Wurlitzer organ version of “Bill Bailey [Won’t You Please Come Home]” that highlights that instrument’s ability to sound like someone playing the flute with a sledgehammer.

There’s also a few tracks by some of the standout figures of the period, including an original version of Al Jolson singing “Swanee” as well as a tune I usually associate with the Ricardos and the Mertzes, “California, Here I Come”. There’s also an old, vaudeville-ish version of “Lovesick Blues” sung by Emmett Miller, which would later be Hank Williams‘ breakthrough radio hit. Patsy Cline’s 1960 rendition is also one of my favorite examples of the Nashville sound.

There’s much, much more music to uncover in the early 20th century, and this playlist only barely scratches the surface. If you’ve got any favorites I might’ve missed I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

Clinic – Free Reign

Clinic - Free Reign

Domino, 2012

Long-time masked men Clinic released their new album, Free Reign, this past Tuesday, and after listening to it straight through two or three times, I am woefully underwhelmed. It’s hard not to have a good deal of respect for the band, who has managed to straddle the line between known and unknown for the last decade-and-a-half. It’s also especially difficult not to marvel at their image — colorfully-matched, surgical mask-wearing, freak-popsters — which is still such a rock-solid look and concept after 15 years that it often (unfairly) defines them to new listeners.

But the album: it’s boring.

Clinic is good at writing songs that sound like their came so far out of left field that they might as well have been sunstroked into oblivion on the bleachers, and while Free Reign is a good attempt at turning the lights out and flipping the synths/drum machines into “Suicide” mode, that energy is all but gone.

Still, the while the album doesn’t come close to the breakneck rawness of sawtooth psychedelia proper (Suicide or Moon Duo might satisfy that craving), tracks like “Seamless Boogie Woogie, BBC2 10PM (RPT)” or “For The Season” achieve a more downtempo, blissed-out kind of high, akin to late-period Spacemen 3. Those two selections also highlight what I’ve always thought to be the band’s secret weapon: the syllabic cadence and wavering delivery of vocalist Ade Blackburn.

Looking at Free Reign as the dark side to Clinic’s last album, 2010’s Bubblegum, which has a similarly light feel, except with a brighter and cleaner sound, lends the album a more completeness. On its own, however, the album comes off as a good effort, but not fully committed. Me, I’ll stick to Internal Wrangler.

PJH: Cornelius – Fantasma

Cornelius - Fantasma

Matador, 1998

This week, Probably Just Hungry is featuring a hidden gem of the ’90s, Cornelius’ Fantasma.

Cornelius, otherwise known as Keigo Oyamada, is a sculptor of pop music, and his tactics have garnered comparisons to Beck. It’s going to be strange listening to him at first if you’re unfamiliar with his body of work, but it’s undeniable that the man knows how to put together a hook and a harmony. He’s one of those brilliant but understated artists whose work seems to vibrate a part of your ear that sends sunshine down your spine.

Click the link below to read the post on Fantasma and listen to samples from that album, and check out the video to Cornelius’ remix of Salon Music’s “Galaxie Express” too. (If you grew up playing that shameless [and terrible] clone of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater called Grind Session, the song will sound familiar to you.)

PJH: Cornelius – Fantasma

Billy Corgan to auction private live performance

Billy Corgan visits PAWS Chicago

Billy Corgan visits PAWS Chicago on Oct 13, 2011; Photo by Sparenga Photography

In case you folks didn’t know, Billy Corgan loves cute furry animals. He also loves his hometown of Chicago. When you put the two together, you get PAWS Chicago, ostensibly the city’s most famous no-kill shelter, and when you throw in the Smashing Pumpkins frontman into the mix, you get a private performance for four to be auctioned off at the PAWS Fur Ball.

The 11th Annual PAWS Chicago Fur Ball, which is slated to happen tomorrow night, November 9, is a ritzy black tie event that draws big names in both guests and benefactors, which shows in the steep price tag on ticket prices — $400 per person and $250 for guests under 35. You are afforded an option that is rare in events such as this, though: you can bring your pet (for an additional $100 per wagging tail). All proceeds from the event will go towards funding PAWS Chicago’s efforts.

Corgan, who is always public about his love for Chicago, is no stranger to public appearances in Chicago, where he is known as an avid sports fan and occasionally attends Cubs games. He is also a long-time source of rock-god controversy as of late, going on the record about past suicidal tendencies and his anger towards modern rock posturing.

It’s good to see, though, that Corgan has his eye on altruistic pursuits such as the Fur Ball. The private performance itself will be at the BIC-headed troubadour’s 1930s-styled tea house, Madame ZuZu’s in Highland Park, which opened in September. The question now is how much ball’s attendees will actually fork over for the auction item and if they can bring their pets too.

The Soft Moon – Zeros

The Soft Moon - Zeros

Captured Tracks, 2012

You might get strange flashbacks when you listen to the Soft Moon’s newest album, Zeros. Flashbacks to a dimly lit dance floor in the early 1980s, surrounded by black lace and purple eyeshadow — and that’s just the guys.

The Soft Moon is the alias of Luis Vasquez, whose shrieking synths and pummeling beats tip-toe back and forth across the line between clipped distortion and eardrum horror, though that’s not a complaint by any means. Fans of early 80s post-punk will revel in these tracks, and maybe even remember the point in history when the Cure was a perfect mixture of angry and angsty, instead of just annoyingly mopey (*cough cough Disintegration cough*).

Amazingly, Vasquez dodges the pitfall of so many like-minded acts by making each track sound similar enough to be aesthetically consistent without driving the concept into a repetitive 30-minute funeral dirge snoozefest.

Listen below and get ready to swoosh around your black velvet shirttails.