Dick Diver: “Waste the Alphabet”

Dick DiverTack it onto the era of nostalgia we live in, but every day of weather in Chicago has a works like a historical set piece doesn’t it? Those early mornings when the wind is spitting snow crystals into your face like a jilted lover — that’s late-80s Seattle grunge. Days when the rain slides down your ankles and snakes into your boot — that’s late-period UK shoegaze. 3am on a clear-skied, freezing cold night — Joy Division. Continue reading

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Axis: Sova: “Fractal Ancestry”

Axis: SovaBetween the rush and rumble, and the 3am burritos of indeterminate origin, I miss two things: year-round temperate California nights and restlessly driving through them. I don’t own a car in Chicago, but I would hazard a guess that it’s not really the same thing. The locked grid of traffic lights and months of pucker-inducing black ice tend to provide enough evidence to me. I know I could always just drive out a few miles to the corn fields, but looking around and seeing a vast field of darkness doesn’t appeal to me like the dull glow of a deserted Santa Monica Blvd, or even the blinding flames at the Carson refinery.

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Big Hush: Wholes

Big Hush: Wholes

DZ Tapes; 2014

If you’re looking for a reason to feel superior, buying cassette-only releases is definitely the way to go. It’s right on the line between old-fashioned and just plain ridiculous, but also, it’s still pretty neat to hear. I’ve gotten a few over the past few years, and I can confirm that you’re not buying tapes for the sound quality. It’s either because of borrowed nostalgia and assumed cultural superiority (see above), or because you like hearing thick analog warping coming from the shitty tape deck you’ll inevitably be using to play your cassettes because the rest of humanity has realized how antiquated magnetic tape is.

I’d like to think I’m in the latter group, but I think my water-damaged copy of the Bee Gees Greatest Hits puts me in both categories. Barry Gibb’s corrupted falsetto sounds like a beautiful pile of satanic feces, though. Continue reading

FoodJams, Vol. 5: “Coffee & TV”

Blur: 13FoodJams is back with another delicious track — this time, that old strum-along by Blur, “Coffee & TV”.

My dad was a tech guy, always curious about the digital coming-of-age in the late-90s and early-00s. The man made sure my 7th grade research project culminated in a Geocities webpage on Taoism with spinning yin yang gifs and huge Papyrus headlines. When I was 16, I inherited Delores, a 1989 Honda Accord with a sun-faded maroon paint job and conspicuous lack of airbags. But the real gift was the stereo system he included — not the speakers, which had literally seen the falling of the Berlin Wall, but the tape deck, which could play mp3s stored on CD-Rs.  Continue reading

Wand: “Flying Golem”

WANDI’m not usually one to make broad, generalizing statements, but it seems these days that the fuzzy garage sound that used to be a uniquely San Francisco sound is shifting south to claim LA as a breeding ground. Thee Oh Sees (briefly) quit and wrote a break-up letter with SF, and Ty Segall set up shop in the plastic mecca, and now acts like LA-based Wand are shooting MS Paint lasers across a sun-streamed beach.

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FoodJams, Vol. 4: “Just Another Sucker on the Vine”

Island; 1983Welcome back to FoodJams, where I listen to stuff and Mel bakes things.

But first a couple of quick questions. Are things weird enough where you guys are? Do you ever wish new age beatniks were actually worth paying attention to? Did you ever sell used office furniture down on San Fernando Road and hate your wife’s Chihuahua named Carlos who has some kind of skin disease and is totally blind?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re ready for this installment of FoodJams, which features Tom Waits and 1983’s excellent Swordfishtrombones. Continue reading

David Lynch / Peter Ivers: “In Heaven”

Eraserhead OST

Sacred Bones; 2014

I still remember my time as a stupid preteen, unfolding strange corners of the internet on a dial-up AOL browser. The sounds of that modem connecting were always unworldly to me in a deeply creepy way — the harsh clicks and bleeps, and the way they seemed to escalate in volume and intensity. I covered my ears on the regular. Continue reading

FoodJams, Vol. 3: “Peaches”

Columbia; 1995Welcome back to FoodJams, where I listen to things that sound delicious and then Mel bakes things on Mel Bakes Things. This edition is brought to you by The Presidents of the United States. Not the actual presidents, mind you. But could you imagine that line-up? It would have to be black metal, with Lincoln on bass, Taft on drums, Grant on guitar and Teddy Roosevelt as the shirtless leadman, all in full corpse paint. Oh, and Clinton on sax — it could work.

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