Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Stripes to reissue catalogue on vinyl

Perhaps I'm late to this, but I read today the White Stripes have plans to reissue their catalogue on vinyl. Needless to say, um, that'd be pretty awesome, and it's definitely one of the few vinyl reissues that I'd feel almost compelled to drop way too much money on investing in the handful or more new vinyl releases.

But that -- god, $100+? -- would be well worth it in my mind. And until they figure out a way to 'burn' your own record like you would a CD -- seriously, how crazy would that be? -- buying great music like this upon reissue when you get the chance is likely the only way to hear it in the best way possible: on wax, of course.

Diggin' now... Stereo Total

It was just a random link on a blog to this song, Je Rêve Encore de Toi, from the Berlin-based, German/French/English/Japanese language duo known as Stereo Total.

Here's how the group's Web site described Stereo Total and its music:
The music of the chanson- electro- nonelectro- garage- rock'n'roll- french-pop- rock-à-billy- disco- international- underground- duo Stereo Total can be described as:
40% Yéyétronic, 20% R'n'R, 10% Punkrock, 3% electronic effects, 4% French 60ies beat, 7% genious dilettantism, 1,5% Cosmonaute, 10% really old synthesizers, 10% 8-bit Amiga-sampling, 10% transistor amplifier, 1% really expansive and advanced instruments, a minimalist production, meaning a home- made- trash- garage- sound crossed with underground, authentic as well as amateurish, ironic as well as effective, pop as well as political.
Stereo Total are Françoise Cactus, (from France, drums and vocals) and Brezel Göring (guitar, synthesizer, sampler).
Right. If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, click play on the video above, check out this other song 'Prends-Moi' (translated: Take Me), watch the other I linked to above and just generally start exploring the catalogue. The group has released eight albums since 1995 (!) and the way the sound includes so much of the mashup, genre-bending style that's become a staple of recent music is really astonishing. Oh, yeah, and it's a hell of a lot of fun too.

A note on the language, I'm no linguist, but I have read the lyrics in fact do range from English to French and German to Japanese, maybe more. My French isn't what it used to be, but I can pick up pieces here and there. I'd imagine the same would go for German speakers as well, and for Japanese speakers on whichever songs employ that language.

But, really, it's different. It's strange at times. But I'm definitely digging it right now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 1965: Dylan goes electric at Newport Folk Festival

On this very day (July 25, 1965), 45 years ago, on a Sunday in Newport, R.I., Bob Dylan 'went electric,' as the moment is called now. He was roundly heckled and booed for the performance, as many of the folk-heads seemed to be channeling their more picky and fickle hipster counterparts these days.

Anyway, it was a really important moment, for Dylan and music. Check out the video, and the link above. If you want to know more, check out Martin Scorcese's Dylan flick 'No Direction Home', in which 1965 Newport performance is played as an important event as well.

Or, just watch the embedded performance. It's great, too. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's burning question: Pulp's 'Common People'... Great song, or greatest song of all time?

First things first: Our things came today, so the turntables, records, stereo and such have returned. Expect a return to crate digging/blogging soon, this time live from St. Paul.

BUT, in the meantime, here I have for you my song of the moment: Pulp's 'Common People' which I've loved since I saw a video riffing off of the song back during the British election (I've posted that one below.)

Anyway, watch the video and follow the lyrics below. Great. And check out below as well.
She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College
That's where I caught her eye
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said "In that case I'll have rum and coca-cola
She said "fine"
And then in 30 seconds time she said
"I want to live like common people
I want to do whatever common people do
I want to sleep with common people
I want to sleep with common people like you"
Well what else could I do?
I said "I'll see what I can do"
I took her to a supermarket
I don't know why
but I had to start it somewhere
so it started there
I said "pretend you've got no money"
but she just laughed
and said "oh you're so funny"
I said "Yeah
Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here
Are you sure
you want to live like common people
you want to see whatever common people see
you want to sleep with common people
you want to sleep with common people like me?"
But she didn't understand
she just smiled and held my hand
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right
'cos when you're laid in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall
if you called your dad he could stop it all
You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
and then dance and drink and screw
because there's nothing else to do
Sing along with the common people
Sing along and it might just get you through
Laugh along with the common people
Laugh along although they're laughing at you
and the stupid things that you do
because you think that poor is cool
Like a dog lying in a corner
they will bite you and never warn you
Look out
they'll tear your insides out
'cos everybody hates a tourist
especially one who thinks
it's all such a laugh
yeah and the chip stain's grease
will come out in the bath
You will never understand
how it feels to live your life
with no meaning or control
and with nowhere left to go
You are amazed that they exist
and they burn so bright
whilst you can only wonder why
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right
'cause when you're laid in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall
if you called your dad he could stop it all
You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
and then dance and drink and screw
'because there's nothing else to do
I want to live with common people like you.....
And the political video riffing off it. (Hint to non-British-election-savvy readers, David Cameron, the main subject of the video below, was the conservative candidate in the last election. He's now Prime Minister.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Altered Zones is a really great blog

OK, so I said I probably wouldn't post much for a week or so at least, but I went against my own statement to point out this new blog collective dubbed Altered Zones, which has some kind of relationship with Pitchfork, although what that relationship is, exactly, is unclear to me.

Anyway, the upshot is this: Altered Zones covers musical territory way down in the ether. The writers specialize in lo-fi, D.I.Y., emerging and just generally unknown artists and genres and they appear to know their stuff, in my opinion, based on how much of the music I've enjoyed already. The best part about the site? Its built-in media player. Each post consists of one artist and one song, the latter of which can be played right there on site with no downloading or anything. Then, as one song ends, it goes right to the next, meaning you can just let new song after new song, new style after new style, play and play as if it was your own iTunes. Don't like something? Skip it, because you can do that to. On to the next.

Another great feature, made possible I'm sure by the upstart status of most of these artists, is the fact that a number of the entries have links where you can download the songs and albums featured on the blog for FREE. Legally. That's right: Free music, legally.

Anyway, I've personally found myself just going to the site and letting the media player go. If something really catches my ear, I'll see if a free download link is included. Simple as that. The music might be a little out there for some people -- it's a lot of noise-style music, digital music, and whatever new term for such things I don't even know yet. But to me, it's been a great place to hear some new stuff. That's what it's all about.

I downloaded the Surf Noir EP from Beat Connection last night and am definitely liking it so far.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dateline: ST. PAUL, Minn.

It's official: This blog -- well, this blogger, at least -- has relocated to where the vinyl adventure first began: Minnesota's own Twin Cities. I'm living within walking distance to a Cheapo and biking distance to another Cheapo and a host of other record stores where I first started picking up records here and there.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was considering some kind of thoughtful farewell to D.C. and the shops there, but it never really came together. I'll definitely miss CD/Game Exchange, and there were a few other shops where I found some great things. But all in all, it'll be nice to get back to some of the spots I haven't been able to visit for quite some time.

Until I start doing that, this blog will probably stay pretty quiet. We haven't had our things delivered from the East Coast just yet, so I think it would be cruel to myself if I started crate digging and picking up vinyl just to wait to listen to it on my stereo/record player. Hopefully, though, our lack of things/furniture will change in the coming days and record playing/crate digging/comfortable sitting can resume once again.

Monday, July 5, 2010

5th of July Pickups

As I mentioned earlier, I am indeed leaving D.C. and headed back to Minneapolis. Vinyl-wise, I'm excited to do some digging at my old favorite shops. But I'm quite sad to be leaving CD/Game Exchange, which I've mentioned a number of times on this very blog, mostly because I tend to go there and find great stuff all. the. time.

So, despite the heat today in D.C., I biked on over to CD/Game Exchange this afternoon and found out there was a 20 percent sale going on. You didn't have to tell me twice, and I left with seven great albums, five of which are pictured above.

Here are the pickups:
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass -- Going Places
  • Frank Sinatra -- Strangers in the Night
  • Ella Fitzgerald and the Tommy Flanagan Trio -- Live, Montreux '77
  • Kiss -- Alive (!!)
  • Talking Heads -- Speaking In Tongues
  • Black Giants -- Compilations of jazz featuring Armstrong, Ellington, Davis, Monk, Gillepsie and more.
  • Ella Fitzgerald -- Newport Jazz Festival, Live at Carnegie Hall '73
Now, I realize Kiss is way out of place on that list. But, I used to have Alive on TAPE when I was younger, and as I was looking over the sleeve and the full-color photo book that came with the record I knew I was going to buy it that very moment. Who could pass that up, honestly?

Anyway, once again, CD/Game Exchange pays off. It'll be too bad when it's no longer a short bike ride away. But, I plan to keep talking about how great it is here at least until I leave -- truth be told, I almost bought a store T-shirt today, but opted to buy more records instead of the shirt. It was the best choice, I imagine.

Hopefully sometime this week I'll have a great, thoughtful opus on D.C. record stores before I leave -- but, honestly, I report and write for a living. This blog, the more work I put into the writing and so on seems more and more like work every day. To that end, it might not be so great, or thoughtful, this opus I'm talking about. But, I hope to have something. Until then, I'll be listening to some great jazz, big band and 70s-80s glam rock/new wave to pass the time. Sounds good to me.

Janelle Monae Revisited: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the style

If you've heard the name Janelle Monae, chances are you've seen this video, heard this song, or both. My first listen came via the video, and I liked what I heard. But what I didn't get was how this song -- and the entire album it was released on 'The Archandroid" for that matter -- immediately shot to the top of 'best-of' lists for 2010 and received lavish praise from a lot of people I tend to go to for music criticism. It's been called the best album of the year, and others have called it the best album in the past few years. Talk about praise.

Still, I didn't get it. I love Big Boi, who's featured in 'Tightrope' and the song was nice. But it's really outside the kind music I generally find myself listening to. R&B isn't something I tend to listen to, even 'good' R&B, as it were, as I've heard this record described. I gave part of the album a quick listen -- OK, I more had it playing in the background while I did other stuff. Eh, I thought. It's good, but is it that good? I didn't think so.

That has since changed.

Driving back from New York last night, I was listening to an 'All Songs Considered' podcast as they detailed the best albums of 2010 so far. Naturally, this was on the list, and both hosts continued the praise for this record. Now, I don't know if they chose this particular song I posted before knowing it might change the minds of holdouts like myself. But it definitely worked. The song is 'Come Alive (The War of the Roses)' and it is phenomenal. Between the cool, jumping bass line, catchy drums and guitar riffs -- not to mention Monae's voice -- it's a great product.

As I've mentioned on this blog, I try to refrain from music criticism and just say what I like and try to explain why. But this song struck me as the kind of song Gwen Stefani wishes she would've recorded before she became a 'Hollaback Girl' who only worked with hand-clappers and drum machines and wrote songs like 'Hella Good' even as her music became less so. Really, Come Alive is a great song, and it caused me to revisit the whole record. I'm not convinced it's the best album of the year -- certainly not the best of the last few years -- but it is damn good. And that's Janelle Monae Revisited: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the style.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Tell Me (vinyl white whale edition)

I've referenced a few times that, for the most part, I feel as though I have a lot of the albums that are among my favorite of all time -- the non-obscure ones I set out to find on vinyl in the first place when I got the record player.

I'm thinking of Blonde on Blonde, Velvet Underground & Nico, Led Zeppelins, and so on. Now don't get my wrong, as I've documented on this very blog, I've come across some very surprising albums that I bought on a whim or because I liked the artist but hadn't heard a particular record. I've grown to love many of these, and I've already really enjoyed picking up new releases on vinyl right off the bat. The latest Black Keys -- a group I'm convinced are meant to be heard on wax -- was great in this regard, as was picking up Merriweather Post Pavilion (finally) on vinyl.

Given all that, and the fact that I can still go into most any record store and, if money was no object, find a whole bunch of records I'd like to buy, I'm asking for help. I'm looking, essentially, for a new white whale or two. There aren't many of my favorite albums of all time that I don't have on vinyl anymore. So, dear readers, you tell me: Tell me what is or was your white whale, or your favorite record or two that you own, or one you spent a really, really long time looking for.

The best submissions will get a prize, most likely my enduring respect and admiration.