Monday, August 18, 2014
"I said, you should’ve seen me with the poker man"

"I said, you should’ve seen me with the poker man"

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Amanda Petrusich’s Do Not Sell At Any Price

Partway through <I>Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records</I>, author Amanda Petrusich confronts her claustrophobia to learn how to scuba dive…all in the name of pursuing 78rpm records allegedly ensconced at the bottom of the Milwaukee River. This is quite literally the stuff of legend but legends are crucial to the appeal of collection 78s, fueling fantasies of their creation and acquisition. As that mad scuba dash indicates, Petrusich devotes <I>Do Not Sell At Any Price</I> to the latter, spending just enough time on the history of 78s for context—she went into the murk of the Milwaukee because discards from Paramount Records allegedly floated down river into this bank—but she revels within the music contained on that brittle shellac and the collectors who hoard these records.


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Alex Niven’s 33 1/3 on Oasis’ Definitely Maybe

Few things are harder in criticism than re-creating a first impression. Alex Niven attempts this in his 33 1/3 on Oasis’ 1994 debut Definitely Maybe, stripping away the legend and hubris of the Mancunian quintet to get to what they sounded like and what they meant in ‘94. This isn’t quite as easy as it would seem. In the two decades since Oasis’ sudden rise, a narrative has solidified: the quintet was little more than thinly-draped nostalgia, purveyors of an unimaginative Dad Rock that provided the soundtrack to Cool Brittania which led to the rise of New Labour. Niven disagrees with both precepts and not without cause.


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Thursday, July 10, 2014

strangesigns said: Yo, I doubt you'll respond to this but I want you to know: Thank you for the years of wonderful criticism that has impacted my life since I was ten years old (I'm 24 now). You're inspiring in writing style, your exuberant & far-flung taste in everything from TLC to Ween, and your service to the world's greatest database of music knowledge. You've shown me Ram, Supergrass, Captain Fantastic, Sign o the Times. Thank you endlessly. Peace.

All I can say is thank you kindly—I’m humbled to have made a difference and thrilled that I helped introduce you to Ween, Supergrass and Ram.

Monday, July 7, 2014

2014: Mid-year Report, Reissues

An even stronger caveat on this list, because I am sure I’m missing some things I know I’ve reviewed and liked, along with things I’ve heard and liked. But we’re halfway through 2014, so it’s time to publish this thing

Holland-Dozier-Holland: The Complete 45s Collection
Rhythm N Bluesin By The Bayou: Rompin’ & Stompin
Hank Thompson—The Pathway of My Life
The “5” Royales—Soul & Swagger: The Complete “5” Royales
Step Inside My Soul: Rare 70s And Modern Soul
Little Feat—Rad Gumbo: The Complete Warner Bros Years 1971-1990
The Other Side of Bakersfield, Vols. 1 & 2
The Complete FAME Singles, Vol. 1
One In A Million: The Songs of Sam Dees
Elvis Presley—Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis [Legacy Edition]
Johnny Cash—Out Among the Stars
Chicago Hit Factory: The Vee Jay Story 1953-1966
Lou Adler: A Musical History
Ned Doheney—Separate Oceans
Hall of FAME, Vol. 3
Swamp Pop By The Bayou
Wayfaring Strangers: Darkscorch Canticles

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2014: Mid-year Report, Albums

Usual caveat: this ordered but the order is hardly set, plus I’ve not heard plenty of noteworthy albums, including Wye Oak, Owen Pallett, the elusive Mariah, etc. Of what I’ve heard in 2014, this is what has stuck with me:

Miranda Lambert—Platinum
St. Vincent—St. Vincent
Tuneyards—Nikki Nack
Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey—Going Back Home
Sturgill Simpson—Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
Stephen Malkmus—Wig Out At Jagbags
Aaron Freeman—Freeman
Lana Del Rey—Ultraviolence

Jack White—Lazaretto

Benmont Tench—You Should Be So Lucky

Against Me!—Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Gruff Rhys—American Interior
Bob Mould—Beauty & Ruin
Damon Albarn—Everyday Robots
Sharon Van Etten—Are We There
Parquet Courts—Sunbathing Animal
Down N Outz—Further Adventures
The Black Keys—Turn Blue
Nikki Lane—All Or Nothin’
Charlie Daniels Band—Off The Grid: Doin’ It Dylan
The Pretty Reckless—Go To Hell
Peter Buck—I Am Back To Blow Your Mind Once Again
Sophie Ellis-Bextor — Wanderlust

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence

Like any great pop persona, Lana Del Rey’s only resonated once it was clear there was an audience buying what she had to sell. Despite the viral success of “Video Game,” there was no guarantee anybody was waiting to identify as a Lana Del Rey fan upon the 2012 release of Born To Die. She stumbled out of the gate, flopping on Saturday Night Live, a performance so bad it only seemed to confirm loud criticisms that LDR was nothing more than a construction designed to look good on YouTube but doomed to wither outside of the net. A funny thing happened on her seemingly destined voyage to one-time online sensation: she started to gain fans. Born To Die crept along to international platinum status, as a fervent cult began to develop around Lana Del Rey, embracing all her erotic sadness. Although the remix of “Summertime Sadness” gave her a genuine hit in 2013 and a fair amount of Born To Die played with contemporary glamour, what appealed to all these listeners was not her flirtations with hip-hop but those doomed modern-day torch songs, songs where she yearned to be anywhere else but never mustered the energy to leave, so she wallowed in the melancholy of being surrounded by boys playing video games and swilling Diet Mountain Dew.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

For my thousandth post, an update:


In the midst of the early 2000s (what, you couldn’t tell?) and working my way to the present. Trying to step on it, not always succeeding, but the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from, among others, the readers of this book Tumblr has helped put me on track when I’ve been ready to fall off it. Thank you! I hope this book does me, you, and everyone who loves dance music at least a little justice.

Can’t wait for Matos to finish this because I’m greedy and want to read it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pixies Indie Cindy

The Pixies last released an album in September 1991, just a few months before My Bloody Valentine released Loveless. Legions of listeners waited in anticipation for MBV to release a sequel but fans never seemed eager for another Pixies album, not even after the band successfully reunited in 2004. To be sure, there was a major difference between the two acts: My Bloody Valentine never split, Kevin Shields simply went into seclusion, combating his writers block by playing with Primal Scream, while Black Francis pulled the plug on the Pixies. A split is different than a hiatus—it’s a closing of a chapter — but a reunion that never ends implies new material is eventually inevitable and this is certainly true in the case of Charles Thompson, who inverted his stage name to Frank Black then proceeded to churn out record after record, either as a solo act or backed by a group of journeymen called the Catholics. Between 1993 and 2011, Thompson released some 15 or 16 solo albums, nearly four times the amount of music he released with the Pixies and even if he reclaimed the Black Francis moniker in 2007—a move that coincided with the debut of Bluefinger, a concept album he’d later adapt for the stage—his solo work after 1998 was of a piece, considerably straighter than his Pixies songs and often bearing explicit Americana roots. He recorded with Memphis legends Spooner Oldham and Steve Cropper, he covered Doug Sahm, hired blues/R&B songwriter Jon Tiven to produce, Levon Helm popped up on 2006’s Fast Man Raider Man, and found room for Van Dyke Parks, collaborations that would’ve been unthinkable at the time of Doolittle and allegiances that underscored Thompson’s commitment to being a working musician.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014