Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Listen to
MASENQO by Mulatu Astatke/The Heliocentrics.

John here, dusting off the cobwebs.

Although spambots will no doubt write my entire digital biography from this information, I picked this track up on a free Strut World Music sampler from Amazon, and eventually bought the album. I like Strut’s curatorial approach (pretty sleeves and deeply researched liner notes), which by some magic process makes listening to vintage AfroLaserDisco an ennobling experience. That said, I was expecting to hear something akin to 2001’s memorable Nigeria 70 compilation (good times, good times), but instead got a mid-60s Ethiopian gentleman (Mulatu Astatke) piano jazzing over a Diesel store soundtrack (The Heliocentrics). What would be kinda boring piecemeal is enlivened by union. Enjoy!

Photo: stars.Home

Monday, December 21, 2009


Yule Britannia! 2009 Holiday Mix (Front Cover)

yule britannia!
if you want more britpop at christmas, take this!

Before rapping about this year's Christmas CD, let me register my surprise that this is the fourth time that we've done this online. It's the thirteenth mix CD I've made with Amy all told. The first one we did on the blog (and the thing that kicked off this blog in fact) isn't online anymore, along with a lot of the pictures, but the two after that, the South American pop one, and the rare groove one, both are available for download and still sound pretty good, if you ask me.

This year's mix is an unusual one, in that John and Corbett were full collaborators. I got the tiebreaking vote (and a little bit more sometimes), but there are certainly songs on here that made it solely because one of the other two guys insisted on it. Which might sound bad, but was actually nice. And to be honest, we were all mostly in agreement about most of the songs, and it all came together really easily.

That's because all of the songs are drawn from a period, basically 1995-1997, when the three of us (and our friends) were locked in a mutual Anglophilic music appreciation society. One of us would drive to Austin and bring back copies of Select to read, another of us would go online and scour any news of Blur's next album, or print out NME's single of the week entry and debate it with the other two the rest of the day. Then me & John would play it on our Monday afternoon radio show.

I think it would be wrong to say that our music taste was too insular (since at the same time we were building up our core catalogue in about six different genres), but it was certainly a time when we followed one particular music scene closer than we ever have or ever will.

The scene I'm referring to is "Britpop." And one particular era of Britpop, which the internet tells me is the "second wave." This is more or less the period of time when music coming out of the UK peaked in domestic popularity, and all of the bands signed on the backs of Suede's, & Oasis's, and Blur's early albums were putting out their efforts designed to capitalize on what, in England, really was a hysteria for the homegrown music sound.

And it was over and done with pretty quickly. By the end of 1997, the whole "Cool Britannia" era was more or less dead and buried, probably best represented by Radiohead's release of "OK Computer," which marked a new sound and a new wave of copycat bands. (Plus, I moved to NYC in the summer of 1997, so it's a natural bookkend for me anyway) (Plus, within a couple of years, the rise of file-sharing and the web reached a point where it became obvious that a single music scene, driven by a powerful music press (i.e., Melody Maker, the NME, Select, Q, etc.) was no longer feasible). Most of those press outlets barely exist anymore. And certainly not as tastemakers. This is covered better elsewhere, so let me just get to telling you about our Christmas CD.

For Corbett, John, our friends, and me, this period was really about a few bands. Blur mainly. Pulp, Supergrass, and Super Furry Animals. And, at the time, Oasis was very important too, but let me be blunt -- the music hasn't aged well. We had only one Oasis song (Whatever) on the first draft of the mix, and I decided to take it off to fit it onto one CD. And I immediately felt better about the mix, because I just couldn't stand to listen to Noel & Liam!

So with that exception, this mix reflects pretty well who we were actually listening to the last couple years of college. And we listened to this stuff a lot. Hours every day. Despite that, it's been years since I've listened to some of these songs -- a few songs on this mix I hadn't listened to since iTunes started keeping track in 2003! -- so it's been a welcome trip down memory lane the last week, trading song ideas with John & Corbett. And again, thanks to them for helping me put this together.

Happy Holidays, and see you in 2010! (Let's hope Liverpool stays unbeaten the next week, cos I won't be here again until January.)

Download the 2009 mix here.

Yule Britannia! 2009 Holiday Mix (Back Cover)


Sunday, December 20, 2009


Charles Deli
Listen to IT'S NOT THAT EASY by Reuben Bell And The Casanovas.

This is a special song for me, I've always had a soft spot for it. It's almost too pleading, maybe a little maudlin, but it strikes me as just on the right side of that line. Have a good Sunday!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone (But You'll Lose to Portsmouth)


Nothing much to say any more about these, is there?


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Civil Court

Apropos of nothing, I've always really liked this piece (track? tune?)

I went to the trouble of uploading songs this weekend, so why not share some with you?

Enjoy your Wednesday.


Sunday, December 13, 2009


Listen to EGO TRIPPING AT THE GATES OF HELL by The Flaming Lips.

A few weeks ago I rode my bike out to Staten Island (via the ferry of course). Since I was alone, I brought along my headphones and listened to tunes while I tooled around. You know how sometimes a song just clicks with you? I got to Ego Tripping..., and all of a sudden, a song I had heard a dozen times over the years, it was like I had new ears and was hearing it for the first time. And then the second, then the fifth, then the eighth--I just stuck it on repeat and listened to it for an hour straight! And it was really nice, almost euphoric.

It's funny how our brains work right? I definitely think our minds get old and stop working right, just like the rest of us. My mind is at least! Senescence starts a long time before senility. But it won't really matter as long as your mind's sharp enough and dynamic enough to have nice little experiences with music (and books, and people, and all that)


You'll Never Walk Alone (But You'll Lose to Arsenal)

Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Dionne Warwick.

Boy was I nervous the last twenty minutes of that. In retrospect, there wasn't much to it was there?

The first half we were pretty terrible, though that was mainly because we had no centre forward and thus no way to keep the ball in a dangerous area. You saw as soon as we got Arshavin on the ball in the second half we were cutting Liverpool open pretty easily.

I think it's fair to say the Gallas / Gerrard incident should have been a penalty, but it wasn't clearcut, since Gerrard actually had lost possession. If you want a stonewall penalty not given, ask Alex Hleb or Dirk Kuyt. Plus, Gerrard was just diving again last week, so he got what he deserves if you ask me.

As for my team, I don't think we can do anything without any centre forwards (with our luck Arshavin is probably out for the season), but it's nice to win one of these big matches again.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You'll Never Walk Alone (But You'll Lose to Fiorentina)

Listen to YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE by the Ryker's.

This is one I don't feel too too badly about, since I'm a little short for real songs at the moment. Liverpool lost to Fiorentina just a few moments ago, but thankfully we were all spared a Stevie G diving exhibition to go with it.

While you consider what some guy said on the internet about Ryker's ("This is one of the most under-rated hardcore bands ever. RYKER'S was the biggest band best hardcore band from Europe."), I'm going to get my voodoo dolls out and start hoping we can give Liverpool another loss this Sunday...


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Listen to WHO CAN SEE IT by George Harrison.

As promised, here's one more from "Living in the Material World." I'm not sure what I think about this one, except that it's another nearly great. But not. Worth a listen though. I think maybe what the Beatles brought to George, or maybe what George stayed sharp about around them, was the arrangements. George's best Beatles songs sound like they were recorded just the way they should be performed. By himself, maybe George's talents as an arranger slacked off. This one just seems not quite right, like he didn't quite capture its best side.

Enjoy your Friday & weekend too!


Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Del City Christian Church 1
Listen to TRY SOME BUY SOME by George Harrison.

How many of you have George's second (proper) solo album, "Living in the Material World"? I never had it, even though I'm a big Beatlemaniac, love George, and the first song on the album, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), is one of my favorite George songs. Despite all that, I was somehow just convinced that the rest of the album wasn't worth having. Maybe due to the seriously crap cover.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally picked up the album, and...well, it's a mixed bag. I don't think there are any lost classics on there, but a few of the songs are perfectly decent. Actually, that's not right, they're nearly really good, but don't quite make it, which makes them more interesting, but more frustrating, than the average decent tune.

Try Some Buy Some is a good example. It was actually recorded during the "All Things Must Pass" sessions, and originally given to Ronnie Spector. George sped up the backing track slightly and sang his own version for "Living In the Material World." I like it, I like it a lot in fact, but there's something about it that doesn't quite come together. I think that it is written to pick up a huge momentum so that by the end you should have this big huge sound, but it never comes.

Incidentally, David Bowie recorded a pretty good version of this a couple of years ago. I might even like his version best.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


Listen to BARON SATURDAY by The Pretty Things.

You can only really blog this song on a Saturday, can't you?

That's fine, because I've been thinking a lot about David Bowie today, and the Pretty Things remind me a lot of him. I couldn't tell you exactly why. It's either because Bowie obviously owes a lot of his Ziggy-era sound to this group, or maybe it's because I first heard about the Pretty Things from some interview where Bowie himself was talking about how important an influence they were on him. (Though I may be imagining that interview.)

It doesn't matter -- you can play this track and hear for yourself why one might hear it and think of Bowie. This whole album, "S.F. Sorrow", is a real classic and you should buy/download it as soon as possible. It's the third and least-well-known record recorded at Abbey Road in the early part of 1967 (the other two being "Piper At The Gates of Dawn" and "Sgt Pepper's")

The band has some great earlier tunes too, that you can hear on the Nuggets II box set, among other places.


Friday, November 27, 2009


Food Beer Cigs
Listen to SOMETIMES I MAKE YOU SAD by Supergrass.

I'm still thinking that a Britpop Christmas CD would be a fun idea, though I haven't done much about it except write the occasional blog post. The other day, though, I did go back and listen to my old Supergrass tracks.

And while I don't think this particular track is significant enough of anything, I sure do like it!

Happy Friday, hope you've got a long weekend going on instead of a bloated day at the office (like me).


Monday, November 23, 2009


Church of the Nazarene
Listen to EUPHRATES by The Main Ingredient.

Corbett was asking awhile ago if I knew the Main Ingredient, but I forgot to reply to his text. The answer is, Of Course! Euphrates is one of my all-time favorite R&B jams, and I spent a lot of hours last winter trying to squeeze it onto the 2008 Christmas CD, before I finally decided to keep that one a little older and rawer. Not smooth, like the Main Ingredient. Happy Monday, roll on Tuesday...


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


West Village
Listen to THE TIME IT IS TODAY by The Association.

One more to tide you over for a few days. Is it just me, or was the Association semi-heavyweights in the classic rock canon, but now they've been relegated to a couple of tracks on oldies stations? I'm not in a good position to judge, given my total lack of interaction with conventional music-playing (ed: do you mean "I don't listen to the radio much," robot?), but this particular song I heard a lot when I was younger but I don't think I've heard it anywhere for years, except on my iPod. Just a (dumb, inarticulate) theory.

Unless John jumps in, this'll be it until I get back from Oklahoma on Sunday, at the earliest. Unless, of course, Liverpool loses on Saturday -- in that case I'll be iPhone blogging to get our next song up here!


Monday, November 16, 2009


Listen to WE'LL MEET AGAIN by Vera Lynn.

Rest in peace, Grandma.