Podcast #113, “Get Fuzzy”

Posted in podcast on May 12th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

guitar_catThe annual “whoops, I forgot to replace the turntable stylus when it was sounding weird and now it’s busted” podcast. It’s a very specific episode where I have to dig through the hard drive and see what interesting stuff hasn’t yet been raided for a show.

It’s fun, and while I’m fairly certain a few of these tracks have been played in the past, the show turned out really well, so I don’t care. If I can’t repeat the occasional track over the course of 100+ episodes (and nearly five years), I don’t know what I can do for you people.

Podcast #113, “Get Fuzzy”
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“Dangerous Rhythm” a delightfully catty and insightful look at movie musicals

Posted in books, movies, reviews on May 8th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - dangerous rhythmLet’s just dispense with all attempts at sugarcoating the facts: Richard Barrios‘ new book, Dangerous Rhythm: Why Movie Musicals Matter (out this week from Oxford University Press) is a delightfully catty piece of work. Barrios does an excellent job of being both joyously fun and reflectively considerate of the topic which it is covering.

The organization of Dangerous Rhythm allows Barrios to jump around a bit, but each chapter works pretty much chronologically, meaning the author can use early examples to illuminate more modern work. And, given that each chapter has a starting point somewhere in the beginning of filmdom, Barrios can use prior examples to illuminate the new ones — it sounds more complicated than I’m making it. Suffice it to say, the history covers all the bases, with chapters on the singers, writers, choreographers, directors, race, sexuality, and … whew.
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Muuy Biien, “D.Y.I.” LP

Posted in mp3 on May 5th, 2014 by Nick – 3 Comments

cover - muuy biien dyiI’d never heard of Muuy Biien before I got an offer to have some records sent to me. They were kind of a secondary, last-minute throw in with another record for review. That other record will not get mentioned, because I didn’t care for it at all, buuuuuuuut … D.Y.I. is pretty frickin’ great.

The album title — at least judging from the cover — stands for “Do Yourself In,” and the music is angular and bleak. “Cyclothymia I,” which opens the album, is almost three minutes of droning, chiming guitars. It then goes into this sharp-edged garage rock. It’s evocative of late-’90s indie rock, when everything was taking influence from electronic music, but reproducing it with live instrumentation.
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Podcast #112, “Rescued”

Posted in podcast on April 30th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

RescuersIt was a panicked podcast host earlier yesterday morning, upon the realization that his turntable stylus was going out, and there was no way he’d be able to dig into any of the new vinyl he picked up during Record Store Day last weekend. What to do?!?!

Then he remembered that he’d totally switched up the last episode at the eleventh hour, and so had an entire show’s worth of trakcs already in the can. Thus, your Monday morning entertainment was saved, and your host didn’t have to come up with something last-minute and frantic.

Podcast #112, “Rescued”
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Rev Gusto, “Still There” 7-inch

Posted in covers, local, pop, reviews, vinyl on April 29th, 2014 by Nick – 7 Comments

rev gusto header
With the second installment of the Too Much Rock single series, we have the first-ever physical release from Kansas City power-pop group Rev Gusto. As longtime readers will recall, we were super-hyped on their first EP when it was released digitally. It’s good to see that the band has managed to both retain their loose, shimmery tones, as well as tightening up their melodies and harmonies.

The a-side is an original, “Still There,” which balances that shimmering guitar with tight drums and bass, resulting in a song that bridges the gap between slightly psychedelic ’60s and early ’80s power-pop. The cover of Graham Parker’s “Local Girls” on the flip only makes that comparison more accurate. I’d not heard Parker’s original in years (it’s not like anything along those lines except Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday Someway” ever makes it on the radio anymore), and it was interesting to revisit the song after hearing Rev Gusto’s take. They do a lovely job of energizing the slightly-lethargic original, in the process rendering it less morose, and more snotty.

The band’s goddamn catchy and everyone who sees or hears them just can’t help but fall in love with these guys. Here’s to hoping some of you pick up the single and do the same. It’s a delightfully catchy pair of songs, just in time for summer.

More info on the single series can be found at Too Much Rock.

McGowan’s “Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon” offers a dystopic view of the Laurel Canyon music scene

Posted in books, reviews on April 29th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

weird scenes header
Headpress might have outdone themselves with their latest book, Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon: Laurel Canyon, Covert Ops & the Dark Heart of the Hippie Dream by David McGowan. Anymore, it takes me about a week to finish a book, with the day job, writing, family obligations, and the ever-pressing need to sit on my ass and gorge on movies and shows.

That being said, I got Weird Scenes Inside the Canyon on Friday, and had it finished by Sunday morning. It’s entrancing. Once McGowan starts spinning his stories, you can’t help but fall under his spell — ironic, really, given the number of Svengali madmen who populate the pages of this book. I can’t imagine fact-checking this publication was anything but a nightmare, encompassing as it does hidden rooms, allegations of incest, mind control, government involvement, and outright murder, amongst the obvious discussion of drugs and deviant groupie use.
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“Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk” demonstrates aggressive music has more to offer than the mosh

Posted in books, hardcore, punk, reviews on April 17th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - hardcore punk and other junkIt’s a shame that Hardcore, Punk, and Other Junk: Aggressive Sounds in Contemporary Music is sort of marketed as an academic book. This collection of essays, edited by Eric James Abbey and Colin Helb, with a little tweaking, could easily fit into any popular punk or metal magazine’s pages with little change in approach.

The essays run the gamut from deeply scientific to historical to a trifle fannish. The editors’ approach and aim is to discuss “the important need of aggressive release in our world.” You’ve got the scientific approach, which breaks down both Sid Vicious’ take on the Sinatra standard “My Way,” dissecting lyrical changes and chord alteration to make the point that the song transcends pure cover and becomes a sort of “cannibalization” of the original.
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Sean Hoen on writing “Songs Only You Know”

Posted in books, hardcore, interview on April 16th, 2014 by Nick – 6 Comments

sean hoen
Sean Hoen‘s memoir of his youth, Songs Only You Know, came out yesterday from Soho Press. It’s an emotional read, fraught with stories of a family of the brink of collapse and finding personal expression within the arms of the Detroit hardcore scene. Hoen isn’t afraid to tell his story with raw, open, honestly, and the result is a book that instantly drops you into a whirlwind of feelings.

I spoke with Hoen by phone a few weeks back, and we discussed the book in detail, as well as his writing process and influences.
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Podcast #111, “Epic”

Posted in podcast on April 14th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

viking fire
Not even kidding — I spent about two hours digging our records, recording tracks, and getting everything ready for this podcast. Then I came up with this idea and thought it was so fucking cool, I had to do it right away. So, What we have here is the shortest playlist the podcast will ever see. It’s four epic songs, sort of suitable for a rainy spring night where the weather’s going all kinds of sideways.

Will it rain? Will there be thunder? Might we have to take shelter?


Um … yeah. So. I did this as a radio set once, with the idea that it all had to be rock songs longer than 8 minutes — no electronic music, no jazz. It was a little more varied than this, but then I had four hours to roam free.

<b Podcast #111, “Epic”
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Earth Wind and Fire frontman Bailey’s “Shining Star” a shining example of ghostwriting gone awry

Posted in books, funk, reviews, soul on April 14th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment

book cover - shining starBeing familiar with pop culture memoirs, I understand the purpose of the the “with” which comes after the ostensible author’s name. The celebrity, musician, actor, whomever — it’s their story. They sit down with a computer, knock out some stories, do an interview with their collaborator, and then that person shapes everything into a narrative. Some are better than others, allowing the voice of the subject to come through, while authors are basically cranking out something.

Word to the wise: if an “autobiography” has not one, but two “with” credits on it … it will suck. Terribly. Oh my god. Philip Bailey‘s Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire was written with Keith and Kent Zimmerman, and I just don’t know what happened. It’s written in such a way that the historical context often takes over the story, because while Bailey’s story is the constant, every other page features some sort of historical digression. You’ll go from a fine piece of malapropism like “her nice round booty ass” to a stentorian explanation of Juneteent which might as well have been taken directly from a textbook: “an American holiday celebrated by African Americans in more than forty states, commemorating the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865.
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