Archive for July, 2004


Is It True That Honky Dory Means OK?

Burka Band “Burka Blue” – The Burka Band are the world’s first all-woman Afghani electro band, apparently put together by a German record label who were holding music workshops in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban. The authenticity of this is somewhat questionable, and I’m not entirely sure whether or not this is for real. Either way, this is a fine novelty pop single, functioning well as both a curiosity (or joke) and as a song. The single includes some video files, and remixes by Barbara Morgenstern and A Certain Frank which are both fine, but lack the charm of the original mixes. (Click here to buy it from Atatak.)

The Married Monk “Tell Me Gary” – At their best, The Married Monk sound like an intriguing cross between late-80s The Fall and mid-90s Pulp filtered through an effete French sensibility. “Tell Me Gary” has a great sense of self-aware, tacky faux-decadence; setting up a tense, sinister groove with low-budget keyboard brass and orchestra hits like something out of a tv movie. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

I’m going to be taking a brief vacation from regular posting on this blog next week so that I can recharge my batteries and take it easy. In the meantime, I’ve put together an all-star team of guest bloggers who will be filling in starting on Monday. As it stands right now, the Fluxblog All-Stars include Mike Barthel, Joe Macare, Jacob Wright, Sasha Frere-Jones, Maura Johnston, Fred Solinger, Keith Harris, Douglas Wolk, Chris Conroy, Jessica Hopper, Ben Dietz, Hillary Brown, Grant Balfour, Ben Hoh, Mark Slutsky, Tom Ewing, Tom Scharpling, Julianne Shephard, The Professor, Geeta Dayal, and Paul Cox, plus a few more people yet to be confirmed. It’s going to be crazy and fun, so don’t miss it.


You Will Be Hazed, You Will Be Amazed

The Mae-Shi “Power To The People” – Spazzy art punk is such a tricky and underrated thing. It often seems that for every gem of the genre, there are literally thousands of other attempts which either don’t quite work or miss the mark entirely. This normally comes down to a lack of discipline on the part of the bands – they’re usually amateur musicians with limited technical skill who are just fucking around and aren’t totally concerned with songwriting so much as the physical and emotional release of performance. There’s nothing really wrong with any of that, but it definitely makes cherry-picking the best songs from art-punk records a somewhat tedious chore at times. The Mae-Shi are definitely above-average in this respect. Several tracks from their album Terror Bird click, but “Power To The People” has just the right balance of song structure and physical momentum to make it the obvious highlight of the record. (Click here to buy it from Buy Olympia!)

Air “Alpha Beta Gaga (Mark Ronson vocal mix)” – Against all odds, a celebutot DJ (Mark Ronson) has remixed a lite pop tune best suited to being the background music at a boutique (Air’s “Alpha Beta Gaga”) with vocals by one of the most unfortunately named rappers of all time (he’s called Rhymefest! for real!) and the results are actually quite good; a definite case of the sum being greater than the parts. Rhymefest makes up for his intensely lame moniker by delivering a strong vocal performance similar in style to that of the GZA and Kool G Rap, and Ronson reshapes Air’s original arrangement into something falling halfway between contemporary mainstream pop and old school hip hop. (Click here to buy it from Amazon UK.)


Leave All The Things That Haunt You

The Concretes “Diana Ross” – I can barely resist young Swedish pop groups under normal circumstances, so obviously I cannot help but to adore this swoon-inducing girl group bolero about listening to Diana Ross records. This song is a selection from the band’s self-titled album; a lovely, wintery pop record which works best on the upbeat numbers, but loses my interest somewhat when they veer off into Velvet Underground-style balladry. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Improved Sound Ltd. “Leave This Lesbian World” – This peculiar little song was written and recorded for the soundtrack of the German film Engelchen macht weiter – Hoppe, hoppe Reiter back in 1969. Though I do understand that the film was about beatniks and hippies living in Munich, I cannot imagine what the context of these lyrics could be, unless that film presaged the plot of Chasing Amy. It seems to be a song written from the perspective of a man who is interested in being with a woman who he believes has become a lesbian because she has been raped and traumatized in the past. He is apparently urging her to leave her “lesbian world” so that she can, um, be with him. I’m not sure whether the lyrical content of this song is misogynistic and homophobic, or just very dumb and misguided, but it’s still a pretty good song nevertheless. (“(Click here to buy it from Juno.)


From My Telescope I Can See You Grinning

The Sunshine Fix “What Do You Know?” – If I ever get to make a film in which there is a scene set at a psychedelic saloon in the middle of a desert (which is very doubtful, but you never know), I really ought to use this as the soundtrack for that sequence. The Sunshine Fix is led by Bill Doss, formerly of Olivia Tremor Control, who were the best of all of the Elephant Six bands as far as I am concerned. The new Sunshine Fix record isn’t quite as “let’s make our own Beatles record!” as OTC’s best work (I’m not exaggerating – Dusk At Cubist Castle is such a thorough aping of late period Beatles that there are even fake George Harrison songs!), but it’s still stuck in the late 60s, in terms of style and influence. I don’t have much of a problem with that, though – aside from The Shimmer Kids Underpop Association/The Society Of Rockets, no one else pulls off neopsychedelia as well as the Elephant Six folks. (Click here to buy it from Spinart.)

The Shimmer Kids Underpop Association “Black Heva Vs. The Ruby Satellite” – It seems wrong to mention the Shimmer Kids and not also post something by them, given that they were/are so obscure and underrated. “Black Heva” is a lost classic; an epic sci-fi love song which sounds like the musical equivalent of Jack Kirby comics from the mid-60s. Unfortunately, this recording has never been properly released, and was only ever available as an mp3 and on a limited edition cassette EP.


Nonsense In Extensia

The Fiery Furnaces “Quay Cur”/”Straight Street” (Live on East Village Radio, 6/26/04) – This is a solo acoustic recording taken from Eleanor Friedberger’s appearance on the radio program “Gay Beach” on East Village Radio from only a few weeks ago. Eleanor only plays the slow acoustic section of “Quay Cur,” and explains to the DJ that that part of the song is mostly in Inuit. At the time, I had no idea that it wasn’t in English – I had just assumed that she was mumbling!

Thanks to Grant Balfour, I have come upon this excerpt from Richard Hakluyt’s Voyages in Search of The North-West Passage, which includes a glossary containing nearly all of the Inuit words included in the lyrics. It seems that this book was very likely a source of inspiration for the song in general.

This is a basic English translation of the Inuit passage:

half hour sandglass / seven saker round shot/ ice for the moonshine / and chichsaneg / kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, don’t say no / tie tight my coat /

in comes the fog / fallen down in the sea, go fetch / look yonder / get out my knife / I mean no harm, I mean no harm / weave us on shore / give it, give it to me / will you have / and I gave a bracelet / kiss me, kiss me, kiss me, don’t say no / tie tight my coat / in comes the fog / fallen down in the sea, go fetch

“Chichsaneg” is the only word that I cannot find anywhere online – my guess is that it is some kind of food or beverage. Also, I am not sure if a “sasobneg” is strictly defined as being a bracelet. I suspect that it may be a reference to the lost locket from the beginning of the song.

For more detailed analysis of “Quay Cur” (and very soon, the entirety of Blueberry Boat), I strongly recommend visiting Clap Clap Blog frequently over the next few weeks.

(Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Elsewhere: Spizzazzz ‘s 40 Days Of Spizz Blends is currently in progress, with each new day bringing us a brand new homemade mash-up courtesy of E Crunk. So far, this highly ambitious project has yielded some nice material, including remixes of Trick Daddy, Ludacris, Usher, and 50 Cent. My favorite, unsurprisingly, is their mix of Ce’Cile “Hot Like We,” which is just ridicously great, especially when the music from “99 Problems” kicks in. Hats off to the Spizzazzz folks for taking the audioblog format in different direction. It’s a bit like the old days of Boom Selection, which was one of my biggest inspirations for starting this blog.


There’s Something You Don’t Want Me To Know

Stimulator “78 Stimulator” – How ’90s is this? It’s like a half pound of Garbage, 2/3 cup of pureed Elastica, a teaspoon of Veruca Salt, and a pinch of Shampoo. I have a major soft spot for artists who make music which would have gone over very well in a previous era, but it must really sting for these guys, to be highly proficient with a style which was huge only seven years ago. This single could have at least have been as big as that one Republica song, you know? (Click here to buy it from CD Baby.)

Shakedown “Love Game (Mousse T Vs. Eraserhead 313 Dub)” – Though this is the same Shakedown which gave us the brilliant single “At Night” from two years ago, this really doesn’t sound much like that song at all. That’s a bit of a let down for me, but this is still a fairly strong track. This particular remix sounds as though the producers wanted to ape The Rapture’s (or, I don’t know, one of the hundred other bands who sound like The Rapture) style, which may have yielded some very predictable results were it not for the contrast with the singing, which is more typical of house music. It’s a refreshing change of pace to hear this type of music without the customary squawking atonal man-pain vocals. Ten years from now, this track is going to seems as “early 00s” as the Stimulator song is “late 90s,” but don’t let that bother you too much. (Click here to buy it from Juno.)

Also: NYC area Fiery Furnaces fans should note that tickets for a September 25th show at the Bowery Ballroom are now on sale.


After The Beep

These answering machine excerpts are taken from old episodes of WFMU‘s The Audio Kitchen, a program which showcases a wide range of found audio. The archives containing these particular calls are no longer online, but the most recent season of the program (summer 2003) is available on the Audio Kitchen website.

Mark’s Answering Machine – This is from the answering machine of a man named Mark, who was apparently heading out on a trip to England following his birthday, which passes over the course of this collection of messages. The tape is notable for a set of messages left by a woman who seems to be Mark’s jilted ex-lover. Her calls become gradually more intense and emotional, revealing a devastating mix of impotence, rage, and pettiness.

Toby’s Answering Machine – Toby apparently belonged to some kind of dating service, and this excerpt from her answering machine chronicles three calls from potential suitors. The first caller seems to be a confused mess; the second man calls in spite of the realization that they have absolutely nothing in common; and the final call is from some dude from Rome.

Bizarre Answering Machine Tape – This is the entirety of a microcassette which was found in a dump and restored to the best of the ability of both the Professor and the original finder. As a whole, it seems like some kind of bizarre audio collage combining incidental room chatter, automated messages, distorted ring tones, typical messages, inexplicable music, weird gibberish from children, an irate foul-mouthed matriarch, and some drama involving an extremely depressed, lovesick guy in a hospital. (Please note that all expletives have been omitted and replaced with electronic noise, so that it could be aired on the radio.)

Also: Could this be the best dvd set of all time?


Everything’s Unreal

Freeform Five “Strangest Things” – The Freeform Five have a genuine gift for writing ‘evil’ boy band songs, foregrounding the subtext of that genre into something openly seedy, lascivious, and intensely physical, while sounding essentially the same on a surface level. This is everything that JC Chasez tried and failed to accomplish on his solo record, primarily because he didn’t have the tunes, but also because he seemed so desperate to shake off the old context, rather than play with it and use it to his advantage the way Justin Timberlake has. The Freeform Five exude the same kind of cocky charm as Timberlake, whereas Chasez’ solo music is smarmy and in denial of its own insecurity, like a creepy dude who will hit on every woman in a room until one of them says yes. (Click here to buy it from Juno.)

Seelenluft w/ Jim Reid “I Can See Clearly Now” – Yes, that Jim Reid, the one from the Jesus and Mary Chain. It’s kinda funny how J. Spaceman and Jim Reid’s vocal deliverary are so similar now that this track ends up sounding more like a danced-up version of Spiritualized than JMC. Either way, it’s as druggy and dronetastic as you would expect. (Click here to buy it from Juno.)

Also: MP3Blogs.Org is an excellent new site designed to help keep track of all of the audioblogs with feeds on a daily basis. It has a very simple design and interface, and is covering most everything of note. I’m all for this sort of thing, though the wget leeching that’s been going on elsewhere raises my hackles quite a bit. To me, the written aspect of the mp3 blog is a major part of the appeal, and to shut that out is both rude and ill-advised, since context counts for so much, especially when it comes to rare music.


You’re So So Stup’, It’s All Disrup’

Jonathan Vance “Slyvia The Eagle” – I know next to nothing about this artist. This song was on a promo cd sent to me by Vance’s label, Run-Roc Records, but they have no information about him on their site, and I can’t find anything anywhere. Anyway, this is an interesting little song with driving percussion which implies dance music without actually being very danceable, and punk-inflected vocals which fall halfway between shouting and spoken word. It has a nice simmering intensity to it, but it’s not overbearing. This is set to be released sometime in the near future as a 7″, so keep your eyes open.

The Fiery Furnaces @ Village Voice Siren Festival, Coney Island, July 17 2004

My Dog Was Lost But Now He’s Found / brief improv / I Broke My Mind / Spaniolated / Single Again / South Is Only A Home / Quay Cur (one verse) / Bow Wow / I’m Gonna Run / Leaky Tunnel / Blueberry Boat / Asthma Attack / Crystal Clear / Tropical Ice-Land / Chief Inspector Blancheflower (sections two and three) / Quay Cur (another verse) / Don’t Dance Her Down / Inca Rag/Name Game / Chris Michaels / Leaky Tunnel (reprise) / Quay Cur (final verse)

Of the three Fiery Furnaces shows that I have seen, this is obviously the weakest, though that mostly had to do with the technical problems which plagued their set. The band was pretty sloppy for most of the show, occassionally seeming as though they were just trying to get it all over with. Nevertheless, most of the set was quite fun, but that’s primarily because I love the songs so much – even rushed versions of “Inca Rag/Name Game” and “Chief Inspector Blancheflower” are going to make me flip out with joy. I’m not sure what this set must have been like for the uninitiated. I imagine that much of it seemed incomprehensible and overly weird, particularly “Chris Michaels,” which is already quite difficult but was made less coherant when Matt’s mic was nearly inaudible for several of his vocal parts. Overall, this was a decent show, but I know that they can do much better.


I Call Your #, I Can’t Get Through

Cut Copy “Saturdays” – Sometimes I wish that I had a more technical understanding of music theory, if just so that I didn’t have to make a fool of myself by describing the way certain types of chord progressions sound by using vague references like “80s chords.” This song is loaded with “80s chords,” which is to say that it sounds like early Madonna, or maybe a bit like Prince. This is not accidental; it is clearly the effect that these guys are going for – danceable, light, airy, and as comfortable as the womb for its target audience. The vocals are minimal and seem to be there primarily as a formality, since the focus is on the beat, keyboard chords, and filters, owing more to straight-up dance music than the crossover dance pop that it references. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Cornershop “Valeurs Personelles” – As far as I know, this is the first new Cornershop tune since Hand Cream For A Generation was released and mostly slept on back in 2002. This is taken from The New Mixes, Volume 1, a compilation of remixes of material from the Bill Cosby/Quincy Jones jam sessions which yielded “Hikky-Burr.” This isn’t a typical Cornershop pop song with vocals by Tjinder Singh, but it’s a rather nice retro funk number with spoken word vocals by a French woman, presumably sampled from another source. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

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