J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Playlists, podcasts and music from WQFS Greensboro's J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

Friday, January 18, 2008

Notes From Underground - #29

It's been awhile, so time for another Randomocity. Things are a bit different this time - my mp3 player is being a petulant child and giving me various troubles. While I am in the process of trying to fix that, I've decided to let my hard drive do the walking this week. It actually vastly increases the amount of music that gets picked from, but unfortunately eliminates the numbers at the beginning of each song since that's from my mp3 player. We'll make do, I'm sure.

A reminder - Click on the 'Play It' link at the end of each commentary and you can listen along with me. Sort of.

Here are the rules: 1) can't spend any more time typing than the track is long; 2) have to type based on my own knowledge - no consulting the internets for confirmation, so if I put my foot in my mouth, so be it; 3) no skipping tracks - even if artists/albums repeat, no skipping.

Let's go.

The New Pornographers - "Challengers" : Ah, the title track from their latest. While the album failed to make it onto my Top 25 Albums of 2007 list (unlike its predecessor which had come in at # 2), it's still a pretty sharp collection of songs. I'm hoping that the next album is a rebound. Or that the (assumedly forthcoming) A.C. Newman sophomore solo release is better. I love Newman, but admittedly my favorite Porno is Dan Bejar and I just felt his songs on this album were a bit lackluster - "Myriad Harbour" was nice, but "Jackie Dressed in Cobras" it was not. Maybe he's saving everything really good for Destroyer. Or something. - Play It!

President - "Light Magus" : This is something I've been meaning to play on my show since December. President is the missing third of the post-Q and Not U projects (the other two being Christopher Richards' Ris Paul Ric and John Davis' Georgie James) created by Harris Klahr. It's interesting - closer in feeling to Ris Paul Ric than Georgie James - this song is a funky, instrumental meditation. The album, Take Music, is almost more like a large collection of ideas and sketches, not really a full fledged album, but I like what I hear and it's no wonder that when these three guys worked together they were creating some of the best post-punk of the post-punk era. - Play It!

Dwight Yoakam - "Honky Tonk Man" (live) : From the second disc of the really righteous Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. re-issue from last year or so. The second disc is a complete live show from the beginning part of Yoakam's career when that album was released and is a great insight to just exactly how he fit into that bizarre (and beautiful) Los Angeles scene along with X, the Blasters and their ilk in the early to mid 80s. Yoakam always was/gets labeled as a 'traditionalist' and while his sound is very firmly rooted in traditional country, he was so well educated in that style and things going on around him that it was impossible to really read him as anything other than a neo-classicist rather than a pure traditionalist. - Play It!

Hayden - "Memphis" : From the previously reviewed The Closer I Get. I'm really big on this song - a re-telling of the story of Elvis' death told from the perspective of someone watching it on television. But the great theme of a lot of Hayden's work has been a sort of emotional fragility enhanced by a difficult time interacting with those emotions when it comes to others. "The pain is here," Hayden sings in the chorus, but despite his obvious sympathy(?) and seeming insight, he is still completely removed from the situation, viewing it only through the scope of the television in his house. You can really over-think good music, I know, but I like when I find things like this. It makes the music come much more alive. - Play It!

Nirvana - "Mexican Seafood" : I got the Nirvana Unplugged DVD for Christmas and it has, to some extent, re-ignited my long dormant interest in the band. I like being able to approach them now, so much later, and not from the perspective of the adolescent version of me that loved them so uncritically. This is from the Incesticide rarities collection that came out between Nevermind and In Utero. It's actually a pretty fun collection and includes some great covers which give a good bit of color to a band that a lot of people saw as just pure depression and noise. Cobain had a great sense of humor. - Play It!

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "Mary Jane's Last Dance" : Well, you know, Tom Petty has been surfacing a lot lately in my world, I'm not sure why. He's going to be playing at the Super Bowl and a lot of NFL stadiums have been playing "The Waiting" whenever a challenge flag has been thrown and the referees are reviewing the call. Clever - I like it. This song came out when I was in middle school, one of the new tracks put onto the Greatest Hits collection. Has anyone sat through that 3 1/2 hour documentary by Bogdonavich about Petty? I don't know if I could - but you know, there really isn't a lot of critical things I can say about Petty. His songs are pretty amazing, even if they aren't bowl-you-over brilliant. He's a great rock and roll songwriter, beyond doubt. Plus the video? C'mon, you know you watched it a lot while it was on MTV. Marijuana allegory (very, very poorly) disguised as a road-weary love song, or just a...ah, forget it. It's a great song. - Play It!

Black Francis - "You Can't Break a Heart and Have It" : This is from Francis' (aka Frank Black) latest solo album Bluefinger. This is a cover of a song by a Dutch punk legend whose name I forget, but with whom Black was pretty familiar and based several of the songs on the album around. I like this song - it's pretty classic sounding Frank Black. Although...can I be honest? I mean, I do..but I've never really liked "Los Angeles" that much. I mean, I know it was the big single off of his first solo record, but I just never..really...it's the weird bridges in the song. I just never took to them. - Play It!

Sonic Youth - "Piano Piece # 13 (Carpenter's Piece)" : Man, this is the kind of stuff I've really been waiting for my player to dig up, but it never did. This is from SYR4: Goodbye 20th Century, a collection of covers of largely avant garde and minimalist 'classical' pieces from the 20th century that Sonic Youth did at the turn of the millennium. This piece largely revolves around banging on wooden things and piano keys being struck. I'm not sure who the composer of this piece originally was, but I guarantee you, this is the exact sort of thing you need on your mp3 player if you want to seriously get on some people's nerves in your car. I love listening to these kinds of things, but I'm so rarely riding with anyone who has the tolerance. Not that I always do - it's short though, just shy of four minutes, so have your minimalist serving for the day and take a listen. - Play It!

Tom Waits - "Children's Story" : This is one of the spoken word pieces from the Bastards disc of the Orphans box set. This is a pretty sad and melancholic story - the type of stuff Waits usually just sings about. A harmonium or accordion or something hums along behind Waits as he tells this really, freakin' depressing story about a child left all alone in the world. The closing part is genius. - Play It!

10,000 Maniacs - "Among the Americans" : From The Wishing Chair, the first album by 10,000 Maniacs I was ever exposed to - mostly through the song "Scorpio Rising," but the whole album is pretty gorgeous. I bought Natalie Merchant's Tigerlilly some time ago and just couldn't get into it the way I'd really enjoyed most of the Maniacs albums I'd owned. I also still need to rent 2,000 Maniacs, the movie from which they took their name. This album isn't a bad place to start if you're new to the band. - Play It!



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