Monday, January 31, 2011

Charles Bukowski - So You Want to be a Writer?

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.
if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.
don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.
when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.
there is no other way.
and there never was.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chris Isaak - Wicked Game

This is veritably one of the greatest love songs ever written. Everytime I hear it it gets stuck in my head for weeks at a time. It's perfect. Its transcendental. It's everything a ballad should be.

Antena - Camino Del Sol (1982)

Camino Del Sol is vintage (what I like to call) "pina colada" music from the French group Antena. Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant dubbed the band's music as "electro-samba" which is a fitting precis. The most notable features here are the synths and programmed percussion that create a breezy, beachy, jazzy vibe. Other jazz instrumentation is present as well creating a full, yet mellow sound. It still manages to sound modern even by today's standards

There are lots of tiny little details that add to ambiance such as exotic birds chirping on "Camino Del Sol" or background vocal additions on "To Climb the Cliff" and "Sissexa" and most of the album. It's this hypnotic, bizarre, yet colorful chanting and cantillating that gives the album a lot of style. It makes you feel like you're waltzing through some inner city of the Cayman Islands. "Seaside Weekend" makes me wish it was summer and I was on vacation somewhere warm and exotic, with white sandy beaches and crystal clear water.

I've also always had a soft spot for non-British European English singing. There's a blunt delivery in the lyrics that is often too natural in those whose English was their first language. Isabelle Antena's (founder the group) soft and supple French accent and take on the English language is really adorable and I think it adds to the atmosphere quite nicely. Camino Del Sol was definitely ahead of its time and an original sounding piece of work if nothing else.

Note: this album is incomplete. Some of the tracks cut off short. Two of them, in particular, really short (like 30 seconds in) and I couldn't find a non hindered copy, but if I do I'll replace the link. Anyway, hope this does for now. There's still a lot of quality here.

Rating: 8.5/10


Edit: FIXED LINK WITH FULL ALBUM thanks to Julien

Thursday, January 27, 2011

They Go Boom!! - Selected Discography

Per request, I'm sharing the rest of my collection of the small discography of They Go Boom!! that I have. These guys' material is apparently pretty hard to track down. I used to have Atlantic, which was their fantastic debut full length, but I lost it with a hard-drive crash and now it is nowhere to be found on the internets. I was ready to fork over some cash to get it back, but you can't even find their stuff on Itunes. Listening to They Go Boom!! can be likened to the love of your life breaking up with you for another and then you taking a big fat tab of ecstasy immediately afterward. Taking notes from New Order and other later 80s electronic groups as well as 90s Swedish pop, their music is flauntingly upbeat. To say that it is sugary would be a grand understatement. This saccharine, seemingly paeanic style fused with rather melancholy, introspective lyrics doesn't clash at all, but rather compliments each other well. So yeah, despite the lyrics there are no plaints here, just pop in its purest most joyful form. Quaff it in; its succulent. I'd also like to say that it boggles my mind how 97...98...99 was never released as "King of Excuses" is one of the greatest pop songs ever written.

What's included:

Margate So Much to Answer For (Cassette? year unknown)
The Summer's On It's Way EP (1990)
Beyond Tomorrow EP (1993)
Island Nation EP (1997)
97...98...99 (Album, unreleased)
Bonus track: "She's Not my Friend"

What's missing:

Europop EP (1992)
I Can't Go Back EP (1992)
The Ruby Lounge EP (1992)

If anyone has any of these or knows where I can find/purchase them, please let me know. Thanks!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Daybed - Preludes (2010)

Daybed are in a league of their own. You don't come across many minimal wave revivalists these days and you certainly don’t come across many who did it this well. A marvelous neoteric commingling of now defunct genres: minimal, cold, and new wave permeate Day Bed's vintage frosty menthol sound. Carla's echoing vocals are like pristine graupel, distant, yet simultaneously mellifluous and almost angelic, and add to the atmosphere nicely. Their cover of the Zombies' “Girl, Help Me” has been stuck in my head for days...awesome stuff. They have a Myspace here and a soundcloud here, where you can listen to more of their material or if you feel inclined and generous, you can buy their debut EP, Preludes from no emb blanc, here.

R. Stevie Moore - I Wasn't Drinking (I Was Just Tired)

Better than the Beatles

Felt - Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death (1986)

Felt, in my humble opinion, is the quintessential band; they are the epitome of tasteful, aware, and ultimately splendid music. Excuse me for being hyperbolic, but Lawrence is the grand genius of modern pop; his brilliance in all facets of his career surpasses any other musician by a long shot. Churning out 10 albums and 10 EPs in 10 years (almost as if they planned their career to be systematically perfect, putting out a plethora of material but not overstaying their welcome or burning out). The reason they are so adored by me and countless others is that everything they ever touched was golden. The Felt canon is a display of sheer, unadulterated beauty and magnificence. Over the span of 10 years they managed to stay consistent, yet fresh, and transcended their peers by taking a road less traveled.

Let the Snakes Crinkle Their Heads to Death (an ambiguous, yet brilliant title, like all of their album and song titles) is a purely instrumental record, showcasing their musical capabilities without the need for vocal compliments (and a bold, ballsy, almost self-destructive move following their relatively successful attempt at commercialized music, Ignite the Seven Cannons - perhaps intentionally avoiding the fame that they were on the cusp of achieving at the time?). This album was forged around the juncture right after Maurice Deebank left the band, so I'd assume Lawrence and Martin Duffy are responsible for the compositions this time around. It's an evocative piece of work and one of their best, although to say which Felt album is best - that's like choosing a favorite child. A little on the short side, but suitably so, this is simply a collection of nice, quaint gems that can be taken at face value: good music.

Rating: 9.5/10


Alison Statton & Spike - Maple Snow (1995)

I heard about this duo from an interview with Matt Fishbeck of Holy Shit and his praises had me track down some of their stuff. Maple Snow is a live album recorded in Japan by Alison Statton & Spike, better known for their involvement with Young Marble Giants, and to a lesser extent Weekend. The music is soft and pleasant, an olio of opalescent heartfelt seabreezy sonatas. Statton's vocals are lazy like a cat on a summer day, but her voice is quite exquisite; melodic and captivating and suits the laid back vibe of their sound perfectly. This is the ultimate album to relax to, especially the first portion. The latter half gets jazzier and a bit more upbeat, but still maintains a warm feel of comfort. There's a hint of sadness on songs such as "Missing You" and "Web of Decline" that you hardly notice because of the calming pianissimo of the music. This album works great for starting off your day or falling asleep to, as it's congenial charms will have you feeling nice and fuzzy inside. Much like Weekend's La Variete, a listen to Maple Snow's airy, jazzy compositions will have you feeling like you're on a sandy beach on some far off coastal locale. Kick back and enjoy.

Rating: 8.5/10


Death in June - The Accidental Protégé

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jean Eustache - The Mother and the Whore (1973)

Brilliant dialogue, brilliant narrative, brilliant acting, brilliant French new wave film. A little on the lengthy side (3+ hours), but worth every minute.

Also features one of the best ending monologues I've ever seen------Warning: contains spoilers-----

Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Just watched this the other day. I don't have much to say because I'm still pretty awestruck. This film is just about flawless. Not to mention beautifully captured and tragic, yet inspiring and life affirming. Highly recommended.

Tones on Tail - Everything (1998)

Tones on Tail was a side project of Daniel Ash of Bauhaus formed in 1982 with friend Glenn Campling. Their nascent career was shortlived, as they disbanded in 1984 taking an entirely different direction with Love and Rockets. You can almost see their progression from Bauhaus to Tones on Tail to Love and Rockets, and it seems like Ash and Campling lightened up a bit over the course of several years. But we’re not here to discuss Bauhaus or Love and Rockets, so I’ll get back on topic.

It’s a little hard to pin down Tones on Tail to a particular genre, although it'd be easy to lump them into the post punk category, however, that’s become such a broad term. Almost every song on this compilation sounds completely different. Different pacing, different structure, a generally different sound. Which is rather remarkable for a band in this or any era to be so diverse when you think about it. The obvious standout tracks here are opener “Lions” (there’s a really good dub mix of this that’s worth hunting down as well if you can find it) and “Movement of Fear” which has since been sampled countless times. Transitioning from insidious and ominous to swingy speed music to avant-pop, Tones on Tail go all over the place. Fast paced and frantic, Everything is a solid compilation and features every song they ever wrote.

Rating: 8/10


They Go Boom!! - Grand Vitesse (1996)

They Go Boom!! presents a mix between twee and “hyper pop” that is just so catchy it hurts (in a good way). I can’t really think of any other relatively known band that has their particular sound. The upbeat tempos and catchy keyboard backed choruses will make even the most downtrodden man at least break a smirk, maybe even a smile. Lyrically, They Go Boom!! swoon about melancholy and heartbreak and loneliness. It’s not an odd juxtaposition as pop music has been doing this for years, but they use the effect to its fullest extent.

Consisting of Mike Innes and Daryl Smith (the two goofy, nerdy looking dudes on the visage of the vid below), made music that was both depressing and hopeful as mentioned earlier. If you’re in a bad mood and want to get into a good mood, this is your band. Starting out, they released a couple of cassettes, before moving onto singles and EPs and finally full lengths on Sunday Records (Atlantic, 1994), and Siesta Records (Grand Vitesse, 1996) and the unreleased 97…98…99, all of which are great albums. Grand Vitesse, which I'm sharing today, is short but succulent, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. The final track is so full of heartache and hooks, it might just be my favorite song of the moment. Another terribly under appreciated band who had their own style and substance to boot.

Rating: 9/10


Godfrey Reggio - Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

The first 15 minutes or so gave me the impression that this was going to be boring version of Baraka, but then I was swept off my feet. Philip Glass' score is phenomenal and synches with the action perfectly. The visuals are just, for lack of a better word, stunning. A grand composition of motion, sound and symbolism that touches on everything from nature to American culture. Easily one of the best films I've seen in a while. 10/10

Friday, January 14, 2011

Christian Death - Ashes (1985)

Fronted by Rozz Williams, Christian Death formed in LA in 1979. Rozz stayed with the band until mid ’85, although a lot of lineup changes took place due to fighting and drug abuse. Williams, who was born into a Christian family, commited suicide on April 1st, 1998, giving some unfortunate credence to their namesake. Their cadaverous nature was not unlike Legendary Pink Dots or Current 93, but with a more noisy post-punk edge. Their 3rd and relatively terse LP, Ashes is a mire of mordent, macabre knells trembling with nil desperandum and brooding calignosity. My favorite track on the album, “When I was Bed,” is an obfuscating nocturne and the most harmonious song on Ashes. The near 7 minute long “Luxury of Tears” has a culminating intensity that brings to mind the Swans mid 80s material. Closer “Of the Wound” takes on a more experimental spoken word angle, with nebulous lyrics and frightful screaming and moaning in the background creating an atmosphere of anxiety, leaving the listener with an eerie after effect once the silence hits.

Rating: 8/10


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Al Stewart - Time Passages (1978)

Al Stewart’s post-“Year of the Cat” musical trajectory is something of an anomaly. His 40+ year career sort of goes full circle, but starting with 1978’s Time Passages, he begins to expand his sound somewhat. He doesn’t stray too drastically from his trademark folk, but he definitely explores a plethora of new and interesting pop styles. He also never fails to include a touch of mythos and historical references in his songs. Although some of his mid to late eighties material borders on cheesy adult contemporary, there is a certain flair that makes it enjoyable and not too kitschy. Another highlight of his songwriting is an intrinsic optimism delivered in a poetic and intelligent fashion. There are some exceptions to the optimistic vibe on Time Passages, such as “Life in Dark Water” which has a moody, slightly ominous tone, but mainly the album consists of auspicious and ornate soft rock. Overall it’s a really likeable and relaxing record and one of his best, in my opinion.

Rating: 9/10


New Order - Temptation

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rafael Brom - Dance for Padre Pio (1983)

I’m not really a pious man, however I hold no bias towards religious music if it can stand on its own two feet. The thing is, from my own personal (and limited) experience, it rarely does and most contemporary Christian music, in particular, is absolute garbage. However, this rare and fantastic album I present to you today is a shining exception to the general way of things. After hearing “Dance for Padre Pio” on youtube, I tried to search for some Rafael Brom online, but much to my dismay, it was no where in sight. Somewhat distraught, I forked over $10 for this compilation without hesitation and all in all, it was money well spent. The rest of the album doesn’t quite hold up to “Dance for Padre Pio,” (which is a glorious song and the compilation is worth getting for that track alone), but there are some solid tracks in here, such as “Vail” and (gotta love the title) “America – Beautiful Home”. Most of the songs themselves are simple enough, but the catchy refrains will have you humming along, potentially even proclaiming your love for Jesus and America. If you can get past the overt religious and patriotic overtones, you’ll find a collection of delightful and scintillating love songs and odes to the mundane joys of living.

Rating: 8/10


Mike Leigh's - Naked (1993)

There's no light at the end of this tunnel