It’s getting close to that time of the year where I make my way back to LA, where I surgically bolt my sunglasses to my head and breathe in the smoggy sunshine like I’m huffing paint fumes. Even if there’s no other reason to look forward to it, it’s one of the few times a year since I moved out to Chicago that I get to plant myself behind the wheel of some kind of car and drive aimlessly — sometimes for 50-mile stretches across fields of waving yellow grass, sometimes in 10-foot sprints wedged between other disgruntled motorists. Either way, it’s worth it. Continue reading
Everyone has that one part of their back that they either can’t scratch themselves without contorting their limbs in some horribly disfiguring way. In a way, that’s the kind of itch mirrored by a craving for analog synth — chunky, buzzing and tangible. As much as I enjoy a nice a fuzz-laden, idiosyncratic guitar riff, using one to scratch that visceral itch is like using a trout as a backscratcher. Continue reading
When I cook, I like to pretend I’m at a sweaty punk show in a basement boiler room in West Berlin. I could be making a grilled cheese sandwich and still make a scene. Knives chop at speeds approaching Mach 1, various sauces fly through the air, the range is fired up like an array of F-14 afterburners. Meanwhile, I’ve got something cranked at volumes that could raise the resting heart rate of an extra lethargic tree sloth, and I’m running around like a Jesus Lizard trying to catch a bus.
It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty fun. Continue reading
I’m a big fan of stupidly simple songs. I could listen to something drone for days on end, sober as a nun, and still have a gospel to preach about it. I suppose it’s one of the perks of growing up near an airport — you learn to appreciate when noises ebb back and forth between background and foreground. You learn to daydream along with a soundtrack. Continue reading
Do kids still bitch and moan when the weather’s bad and they’re stuck inside? Valid question, right? You can arguably do more inside than outside these days, even if it’s not necessarily the best for your overall well-being. Growing up as an only child with a bowl cut and an overbite, rainy days were something of a crucible for me. Not too long ago, I had nothing to do so I made a jellyfish out of paper plates, acrylic paint, string and spare buttons. Same goes for Girlfriend Mel — except her project was a giant taco piñata. Being bored tends to do that to you, I guess — you eventually figure out how to make something with what you’ve got, or it rots you to the core. As they say: “Only boring people get bored.” Continue reading
Are the Welsh rising up again? Up to a certain point in my life, I’d only known of one Welsh musician: Tom Jones. And while his tastes in crooning and unbuttoned button-down shirts exudes enough sheer amazingness for an entire lifetime, I’ve always wondered if there were others.
Now, in the span of months, I’ve heard of two more great Welsh bandleaders. First Cate LeBon, and now H. Hawkline. Both of these folks are unbelievably unique talents, not just at seeing how many consonants and Ys you can fit into a word, but also at weirdo guitar pop. Continue reading
Yesterday was a good day. I serendipitously stumbled upon this compilation yesterday (along with a TON of other really great new and newish tracks) and it’s been one of those time when I’m amazed at how much great stuff people are putting out there completely under the radar.
Citrus City Records and their compilation is giving me serious flashbacks. My life as a music listener has been dotted with that intense and weird shame/excitement combo that comes with a fantastic comp full of unknowns. “Who the hell are all these amazing artists and why haven’t I heard of them before? I’ve got work to do — things to binge listen to.”
Sometimes I feel like writing about music is an endless string of comparing one band with another, and maybe, every now and then, throw in a few adjectives, separated by a vast field of commas. This is a dangerous game, a slippery slope, and any number of other scary epithets you might have heard from your D.A.R.E. representative growing up, because all it takes is one too many hyperbolic exclamations before you’ve convinced yourself you’ve stumbled on The Next Big Thing.
> Checking levels …
> Floor toms — Copious.
> Mid-range bass — Plentiful.
> Fuzz — Crispy.
> Harmonies — Sunshiny.
> Processing …
> Diagnosis: Oh shit, boogie down.
I’m on some kind of weird 70s kick as of late. Anchored by my long-time love affair with the Bowie Berlin Trilogy, it’s now progressed through an array of strange and obscure figures to emerge back in the mainstream with AM radio gold. That means snaking through the druggy proficiency of Todd Rundgren, the tragic history of Badfinger, and finally landing on The Raspberries.