Thursday, March 31, 2005

British Sea Power - How Will I Ever Find My Way Home (mp3)

This is from British Sea Power's new album, Open Season, due out next week.

Open Season was the Guardian's Pop CD of the Week last week. Read the review here.

From the review:

Not just a marvellous album, Open Season comes with optimism attached. In recent years, record labels have apparently developed both a secret process for surgically depriving rock bands of their personality and a fiendish advance in studio technology by which generic Coldplay-style ballads can be produced at the flick of a switch. A depressingly number of bands have submitted to both in the search for chart success, but there has to be another way. Open Season shows there is. It's a triumphant lesson in sweeping gracefully towards the mainstream with your imagination and mystery intact, in becoming part of the scenery without jettisoning the desire to drape yourself in greenery.

The burning guitars and smart lyrics in this track should be all the supporting statement you need to believe that last sentence.

I'm leaving here, getting out of this place
I'm leaving here, getting out of this place
Only certain kinds of people can take these things.

British Sea Power - How Will I Ever Find My Way Home (mp3)

Beck on KCRW

Watch Beck's live performance on KCRW here. Love that Black Tambourine and Girl.

Stream the audio here (Real Audio).

Download here (mp3).

Teenage Fanclub - It's All In My Mind (mp3)

This is the first track from Teenage Fanclub's forthcoming album, Man-Made (out in June in the U.S.). It's headphone music for looking out of windows - a droning yet catchy guitar pop song with lyrics like this:

I was like a wave
I didn't show emotion
I was a hundred years
upon the ocean
It's all in my mind
It's all in my mind

And ending with:

My life is going fast
It’s make-believe
It’s all in my mind
It’s all in my mind

Teenage Fanclub - It's All In My Mind (mp3)

Okay - Devil (mp3)

There are three CDs in continuous rotation in my Nissan, and they all have one thing in common: all are treasuries of irresistable sing-along melodies and catchy jams. There's Beck's Guero, of course, which is as brilliant as anything he's done, and I'll fight you if you don't think so. The Yo La Tengo compilation is in there too, which I skip around in, and finally, there's Okay's High Road and Low Road. One of those catchy songs is "Devil," which I'm posting here. It's pretty and hummable, but dark in its simplicity. If you don't have the Okay albums yet, you're really missing out on a truly original songwriting and composing talent in Marty Anderson. I really don't know who to compare him to, you just really have to sample his stuff. I want to say Fleetwood Mac, because his melodies and harmonies are impeccable, but he sounds nothing like them. Just to give you an idea, the track after "Devil" is "Replace," and is sung to the tune of "Amazing Grace," and the lyrics begin "I don't live in my head/Somebody Killed it dead..." Rough, but the song ends triumphantly.

Okay - Devil (mp3)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Sarah Vaughn - Fever (Adam Freeland remix)(mp3)

From Verve Remixed 3. Download here.

World Leader Pretend - Punches (mp3)

You might think you're listening to the Beach Boys when this song begins, but when the piano and drums come in you know you're not. But then you hear the organ and you think you are again. Then you hear a great introductory cough and some alt-guitar, and you wonder why it all sounds so sweet together when it has no business sounding anything other than a shitty mess. From World Leader Pretend's upcoming album, Punches, out May 3rd.

World Leader Pretend - Punches (mp3)

Raveonettes - Love in a Trashcan (mp3)

Here's a nice little dirty guitar tune from the Raveonettes' upcoming Pretty In Black. Those bends that start the guitar solo near the two-minute mark are just so damn smart.

Raveonettes - Love in a Trashcan (mp3)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Where's today's mp3 post?

Good question. There is none, because today we debut our hot new Q&A feature, ASK UNCLE TOM. Look over there on the right sidebar, and you'll find a very trustworthy-looking fellow smiling at you. That's UNCLE TOM. He has an answer for any question you can think up. Just click on "ASK UNCLE TOM" to e-mail him a question. Anything's game.

Monday, March 28, 2005

John Doe mp3s - Ready (w/Kristin Hersh) & Hwy 5 (w/Neko Case)

According to Emusic's review,

Doe's Forever Hasn't Happened Yet is a totally solid record, a very grown-up album with the sort of songs you only get from people who have confronted (not conquered — they can never be conquered) their demons and lived to spin some yarns...

On the album's most X-like track, "Hwy. 5," Doe duets with alt-country darling Neko Case, singing confidently but gently about late-night getaways, yet again tapping the rebel well to cast himself as the lonely wanderer, the outsider who shall never be tamed...Aside the Case cut, there are two with Cindy Lee Berryhill ("Your Parade," "Repeat Performance"), and there's one with Kristin Hersh ("Ready") that sounds just like his old band.

All you needed to read was "totally solid record," right? Adverb-vague adjective-noun, an English professor's nightmare, but no matter. It's in rock fan language, and we can tell the fake and pretentious: the posers. John Doe, though he's grown older and wiser, is neither. You know he's real when you hear the slide on Hwy 5.

John Doe mp3s:

Forever Hasn't Happened Yet (with Kristin Hersh) (mp3)
Hwy 5 (with Neko Case) (mp3 via

Don't ever argue with your mother--you might kill her

From Gene Wilder: It Hurts to Laugh, a Washington post article on Gene Wilder's new autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger:

It's 1941, and Wilder is an 8-year-old named Jerry Silberman, living in Milwaukee. A doctor has come by to check on his mother, who has recently had a heart attack and is just home from the hospital. After an examination, the doctor spots Jerry, grabs him by the arm, leans in and whispers, "Don't ever argue with your mother -- you might kill her."

The doctor is fat and his face is sweating. "Try to make her laugh," he adds. Then he's out the door.

For years, Wilder labored under the impression that a few sharp words could mortally wound his mom, and that some well-timed jokes might actually extend her life. Sound heavy? It gets heavier in "Kiss Me Like a Stranger," Wilder's new autobiography, a book as frank and raw as a session with a shrink, filled with blunt musings about sex, acting and the search for love and happiness.

Screening out the Antisocials

If I want to learn about you, whether socially or at work, I'll talk to you. I'm not going to ask you if you're an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs test like me, or if you have a really high "influencing" score on the DISC test, any sooner that I'd ask if you're a Sagittarius or if you were born in the Year of the Dog. I'm not a fan of personality profiles for several reasons. First, the person taking the test might see himself (or herself) as different than his or her actions would show. I.e., he may see himself as different than others see him, and answer according to his false perception. Also, a person could lie on a personality test. Let's say you're applying for a job that requires reports turned in by a deadline. Are you going to answer "no" to "You do your best to complete a task on time."? Personality profiles also don't consider people's motivations. If the person's behavior is what's important, what matters more is what needs and desires motivate him or her, whether it's a desire to prove something, material needs, love, whatever. You see a lot of people act out of character, and heard the expression "I would never have guessed that he would do something like that."

So it disturbed me to read this, from an article in the Sunday Washington Post:

Over the past few years, personality assessment tests have moved from the realm of experiment to standard practice at many of the nation's largest companies, including the Albertson's grocery chain and retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Target. A recent survey found that about 30 percent of all companies use personality tests in hiring. To many companies, the tests are as important, if not more important, than an applicant's education, experience and recommendations.

Some firms give the computer the power to conduct the first screening of candidates and do not bother interviewing applicants unless they score above a certain level. Universal, however, prefers to put everyone through an interview on the chance that assessments are wrong.

Usually they aren't.

"In almost every case, the results of the test are what we see in their interviews," said Giles, who has been at his job for two years,

Universal said the online exams have made a measurable difference in the quality of its workforce. Employee retention and customer satisfaction levels are up, while absenteeism and theft are down.

I understand the need for excellent customer service and performance, but I'm not really seeing the science (at least not from this article) in what Mr. Giles said here. Can Universal single out the personality test as being the sole cause of the measureable difference of quality in its workforce? Were there changes in training or management, or raises?

Does being an introvert mean that you won't work well with people, or won't be able to sell houses? Aren't introverts more likely to buy from other introverts, rather than the slick-rick salesman?

It seems as if we're seeing the beginnings of a new form of discrimination here - some sort of "personality type discrimination."

As some other critics of personality tests remarked in the article:

"You are really doing a disservice to the complexity of human individuality," said Dan P. McAdams, a professor of psychology and human development at Northwestern University.

Annie Murphy Paul, author of "The Cult of Personality," which is about the testing industry, said there is a real danger of stigmatizing people who fail certain components of tests. "If we are labeling people liars and thieves even before they have seen any propensity for them to do these things, it is a real injustice," she said.

And I hate to do it, but whenever I see a personality test, I think of Donnie Darko, and the Fear - Love line:

Donnie: Life isn't that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.
Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.
Donnie: Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!

Later, in the principal's office, with Donnie's parents:
Kitty Farmer: I'll tell you what he said. He asked me to forcibly insert the Life Line exercise card into my anus.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Barbie's Diary

Pages from the Barbie diary, "Peace, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll"

Mattel, the toy behemoth Barbie built, has teamed up with Golden Books to launch the "Barbie Diary of the Decade" series. The first two diary books are out this month.

...In "Peace, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll" -- one of the first books in a series aimed to offer, as one of its creators puts it, "history through the Barbie filter"-- Barbie and her African American friend Christie are both illustrated with pink skin and long, straight hair (above)...

..."Eeeee-ew," you might say, especially if you're an anti-Barbie individual, one who believes, perhaps, that a compulsively accessorizing shopaholic with a bust- to waist-size ratio not found in nature is hardly the best historical tour guide for 8-year-olds.

...But not so fast.

What if the diaries portrayed Barbie as a pioneering feminist -- and never mind that she herself would never use that term?

What if they revealed that, when she wasn't trying on miniskirts, she was schlepping down to Washington for the Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

What if they took on anorexia, for heaven's sake?

-from The World According To Barbie: How Does a Real Doll Remember the '60s? Thinly., by Bob Thompson, in Sunday's Washington Post.

Barbie purists should be aware, though, that these are abridged diaries, and her official blog at Mattel is edited. The unabridged diaries are said to be circulating on the black market. You'll have to get your hands on one to read entries like 26 Dec, 2003:

26 Dec 03

Dear Diary,

WTF?? I've been lying in a dark box with NO AIR and NO SHOWER, not to mention NO MAN, until Jane opened me for Christmas yesterday. I knew it was inevitable, but who would have thought that her brother Bruce couldn't wait longer than a day to violate me. He stripped me absolutely naked and made me do the splits - the kind where my pelvis is like two inches below the level of my feet. Then he looked really close at the place where you would normally find a vagina. As if he thought I would actually have one, and as if by looking closer, he would make one appear. What is it with boys making us do this? Then he took me naked into the kitchen and ate a tablespoon of cool whip off my nippleless breasts.

*Sigh.* I must have been a bad f*&%ing toy in my past life to deserve this.



Sia - Breathe Me (Ulrich Schnauss remix) (mp3)

This is the song you hear late at night on the radio, while you're driving alone, the perfect song to go along with the lonely roads and passing streetlights. From the Breathe Me 2 Single.

Sia - Breathe Me (Ulrich Schnauss remix) - mp3

The Four Tet remix, ideal for the twilight, is here.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Lessons from the Big Bang

INFLATING BALLOON is a good analogy for understanding the expansion of the universe. The galaxies on the surface of the balloon are effectively at rest, and yet as the universe expands, the distance between any two galaxies increases. The galaxies themselves do not increase in size.

What Is Expansion, Anyway?

When some familiar object
expands, such as a sprained ankle
or the Roman Empire
or a bomb, it gets bigger
by expanding into the space
around it. Ankles, empires and bombs
have centers and
edges. Outside the edges,
there is room to expand into.
The universe does not seem to have an edge
or a center or an
outside, so how can it expand?

You are an ant living

on the surface of an inflating
balloon. Your world is two-dimensional;
the only directions you know are left,
right, forward and backward.

You have no idea what "up"
and "down" mean. One day
you realize that your walk to milk your aphids
is taking longer than it used to:

five minutes one day, six minutes the next day,
seven minutes the next. The time it takes
to walk to other familiar places is also
increasing. You are sure that you are not

walking more slowly and that
the aphids are milling around
randomly in groups, not systematically crawling
away from you.

This is the important point: the distances to the aphids
are increasing even though the aphids are not walking
away. They are just standing there,
at rest with respect to the rubber of the balloon,

yet the distances to them and between them are increasing.
Noticing these facts, you conclude that the ground
beneath your feet is expanding. That is very strange
because you have walked around your world and found no

edge or "outside" for it to expand into.

In Our Universe

as on the surface of the balloon, everything
from everything else. Thus, the big
was not an explosion
in space;
it was more
like an explosion
of space.
It did not go off at a particular
location and spread
out from there
into some
imagined preexisting void.
It occurred
everywhere at once.

If one imagines running
the clock backward
in time,
any given region
of the universe
and all galaxies in it
get closer and closer until they smash together
in a cosmic traffic jam--the big bang.
It was like having the surface
of Earth and all its highways shrink
while cars remained the same size. Eventually
the cars will be bumper to bumper
on every road.
No radio broadcast is going to help you
around that kind of traffic jam.
The congestion is everywhere.

The totality of space

The totality of space could be infinite.
Shrink an infinite space by an arbitrary amount,
and it is still infinite.

- sentences and phrases rearranged from Misconceptions about the Big Bang Baffled by the expansion of the universe? You're not alone. Even astronomers frequently get it wrong By Charles H. Lineweaver and Tamara M. Davis, in the March issue of Scientific American.


There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you've been living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You've stopped being here in the world.
You're in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You're not a creature in a body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you're in the world again.
At night, on a cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
each thing is from every other thing.

-Louise Gluck
From the New Yorker, Jan 17, 2005.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Personal ad of the week

Friday shall henceforth be "personal ad of the week" day.

This week our ad is from the Washingtonian:

in stature +/or attitude by smaller male worshipper, 45, handsome, healthy, athletic, intelligent, romantic, passionate, subservient, for random fun, role-play, wrestling, body worship, dating + hopefully marriage.

I love the (S) at the end of AMAZON.

He could have saved some money with far fewer characters:

Little dude seeks female wrestlers for naked cage match.

Laura Burhenn - Just for the Night (mp3)

She's gorgeous (see!), she has a strong, sultry, steamy voice, and she plays a hypnotic keyboard. She's sort of like a heroin-chic-free Fiona Apple. Her name is Laura Burhenn, and she's in D.C.! This song is from her April 2004 release, Wanderlust, which I don't have yet, because Revolution Records, where she played a free show in May of last year, is sold out. They assure me that she'll be dropping some more off very soon, though. I hope I'm there when she stops by. I got Just for the Night from the Red Stapler Records' tps reports, volume one, a $5 compilation of songs by Washington, D.C. area bands.

Laura Burhenn - Just for the Night (mp3)

For aural ecstasy, download four more mp3s here.

A Bunnybrains Public Service Announcement: Drugs No Way! (mp3)

Drugs? No Way!!!

Hey, moms and dads: It's never a bad time to talk about drugs. You can use the first mp3 here as an instructional aid.

And hey, kids! Using isn't cool. Bunnybrains reminds us here in this kid-friendly jingle.

Bunnybrains - Drugs No Way! (mp3)

And here they do a Sonic Youth impersonation. God, that really sounds like Lee Ranaldo, who gets high on music.

Bunnybrains - Onic Outh (mp3)

Both tracks from the Narnack sampler (see yesterday's Fast Fourier post).

Oscar Romero Anniversary

One day in my Catholic high school Religion class our teacher announced we were going to watch a movie. Usually this was great news as it meant two or three free days of class. One time we got to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark ostensibly for its relevance to biblical archeology when we were studying bible history. I think my (female) teacher secretly just wanted to see Harrison Ford. No lessons for three days to watch Raiders was probably the highlight of my freshman year religion class experience.

This time the movie, Romero, was depressing but really good. The excellent Raul Julia is brilliant as the title character. Today is the 25th anniversary of Archbishop Oscar Romero's assasination. Jesuit priest John Dear has a good piece about him here. (via A Tiny Revolution)

UPDATE: Sorry, it was March 24, 1980, not 25.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Fast Fourier mp3s: Pole Position & My Weighting Amae

These tracks are from a band called Fast Fourier. I know nothing about them, except that they play loud and well. Pole Position is a two-part song that starts with a tension-building announcement of hard rock, transitions with a nifty little shred and a chaotic breakdown, and changes into a throbbing, beating race car ride. My Weighting Amae is still more plugged-in fun, with hot some hot guitar effects that don't weigh the song down. These came off the Narnack Records - A Fist First Sampler of New Music CD, which you can get here.

Fast Fourier mp3s:
Pole Position
My Weighting Amae

Yo La Tengo - Decora (acoustic) mp3

I picked up Yo La Tengo's Prisoners of Love (Matador) yesterday at Revolution Records. With all the hype about the three-CD set preceding its release, I was ignorant to the fact that there was also a two-CD set released, without the outtakes/rarities disc. Seeing the "Prisoners Of Love" cover, I initially picked up the two-disc set thinking it was the three-disc, and didn't notice the "2" until started walking toward the cashier. So be warned. You want to make sure you get the boxed set. If you don't, you'll miss out on previously unreleased treasures like this:

Yo La Tengo - Decorum (acoustic) (mp3)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Blissfully Ignoring the People

Think you love music? Then you can relate to William Kapell:

"The only moments I have when I play that are worth anything to me are when I can blissfully ignore the people I am supposed to be entertaining," wrote the American pianist William Kapell to a friend, the pianist Shirley Rhoads, from Australia, where he was unhappily on tour in 1953.

No me; no silly public to amuse; only the heart and the soul, the world, the birds, storms, dreams, sadness, heavenly serenity. Then I am an artist worthy of the name.... Until it happens, or if it doesn't happen, I am miserable....


Three years after making that album with Heifetz, Kapell wrote to Shirley Rhoads from Australia, where he found audiences listless and critics uninformed:

I think greatness in art is something you come upon after only yearning and pain, and a deep sense of being in a dark tunnel. Greatness in art is not something you tell yourself you have. It is the oasis, the greatness, the vision, or whatever you want to call it, after travelling the vast desert of lonely and parched feelings. After this, the oasis. And the older a musician gets who has once seen this oasis, the more he wants to live there all the time, so the more frequent are his attainments of greatness and vision.

He added:

Any true artist at bottom must be an escapist. Because look to where he or she escapes! Schubert Impromptus, Chopin Barcarolle, Beethoven Op. 111, Bach, Mozart, Schumann, the last movement of the Copland Sonata. Was life ever like that? Of course, children give an emotion similar, and in a way even stronger than any piece of music. But life itself is a hideous mess, and aside from a few loved ones, and dear friends one loves, it is best to steer clear of the hatred and evil of most present-day occupations. And music, as a profession, is one of the worst in this sense.

- From The Undefeated, a review of William Kapell Edition (9 CDs), in the NY Review of Books

Routineers mp3s - Pussy Pants & Two Fridays

Amanda Mackaye howling live

With a song title like that first one, how can you not check out these rock shorts of less than two minutes from Dischord's Routineers, with Amanda Mackaye (Ian's sis) on the mic?

Splendid magazine says "Bill Nesper drizzles the minute and a half Pussy Pants with a quick, punchy rhythm, forming a powerful statement as it combines with Nelson's atypically squelchy chord progression. The group slows down on "Two Fridays", building toward a rough guitar line, then ending abruptly after 84 seconds."

For those of you who like it short and hard.

Routineers mp3s:
Pussy Pants
Two Fridays

Monday, March 21, 2005

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell mp3s

Written stories can be read by any voice, but the story's point of view remains the same. Songs, though, are almost always perceived to be sung from the point of view of the singer. The same words mean something different, depending on the attitude and reputation of the singer. In this cover of Tom Waits' I Don't Want to Grow Up, Petra Haden sounds childlike and innocent; you almost expect to hear her say "I'm a Toys'R'Us Kid." It's crueler and more disturbing, because she knows, and we know, that she's going to grow old in a bleak world without magic. Frisell plays with restraint to allow her to seem exposed and vulnerable. Contrast with Tom Waits' version (mp3) from Bone Machine, where you feel the hurt, but it's harder to sympathize with the hard, guttural voice. Or contrast with the Ramones' cover (mp3), a punk anthem in which the lyrics seem to declare defiance, rather than the resignation to fate that you hear in the Haden/Frisell version. The punkers know, and we know, that they won't grow up; they'll take their guitars, ripped jeans and Yoo-Hoos to the grave.

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell - I Don't Want To Grow Up (mp3) mentioned the above track and Haden/Frisell's version of When I Wish Upon a Star:

I Don't Want to Grow Up displays more naive than [Tom] Waits' version on Bone Machine, while their reading of I Believe has a certain Beatles-esque quality that belies its composer, Stevie Wonder. The Mancini standard Moon River has been covered by Frisell both live and on record with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Elvin Jones, but never with the kind of rubato elegance found here. When You Wish Upon a Star receives a similarly delicate treatment, with Frisell's solo, deliciously rich, guitar proving all the accompaniment Haden needs to evoke the childlike innocence of the tune.

Here's the similarly delicate treatment:

Petra Haden and Bill Frisell - When You Wish Upon a Star (mp3)

Both Haden/Frisell tracks from Petra Haden and Bill Frisell's self-titled January release.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Comas - Tonight on the WB (live) mp3

Yahoo! Music belatedly calls the Comas "One to Watch," here. Conductor was one of my favorite CDs of last year, so I was thrilled to see Yahoo! offer an exclusive performance video here. They have *zero* physical flamboyance, but the music creates all the excitement you need, from the opening guitar wail to the synth-infused end.

The mp3 is a little tinny, but its rawness is priceless:

Comas - Tonight on the WB (live)

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Evens mp3s

Fugazi’s Ian Mackaye’s latest Dischord project, the evens, is a partnership with former Warmers member Amy Farina. Their self-titled debut album, released this month, is a welcome break from all of the indie clutter we’ve been downloading for the past couple of years. It’s a shiny pebble in the manure field.

The album cover is a black and white photo of an elephant eating hay, taken, I think, at the National Zoo on Connecticut in Washington, D.C, with the album/band name in bright red times new roman. Black, white, red, elephant…Immediately one thinks of the White Stripes’ Elephant – and the mental associations begin. Both are male/female acts, artistically independent, recording minimally, with almost solely guitars and drums. The evens, though, are like a White Stripes in reverse – the guitar is a restrained baritone, the vocals are, surprisingly for Mackaye, even and controlled throughout, and the drums are wild. The statement appears to be: if you’re going to do indie, let’s let it be about the music and the message, and without the bombast. Let the elephant be an elephant.

I speculate, of course.

The top ten reasons I love this album:

10. It’s neither cute nor clever.
9. It’s cerebral.
8. It’s an album that holds sans gimmicks, not a collection of catchy singles.
7. The indie kids won't dance to it.
6. Twelve little downers. Fresh and interesting downers, though.
5. Only three songs exceed 4 minutes.
4. 10 dollars postpaid from Dischord.
3. Signed plastic wrap.
2. The drums fuck with your heartbeat when you listen to it with headphones.

And the top reason I love this album is...

1. I had a really, really hard time deciding which tracks to post.

Shelter Two is the first song on the album, and it’s hushed, simplistic beauty. You wonder what it’s about, with the singer telling us all the seemingly meaningless places he’s been today, and then the bomb: you went to Tulsa and I’m going to wait/it’s all downhill from here/we keep on climbing but we never find the top/it’s all downhill from here.

On the Face of It is sung as a duet, starts with a slow, deliberate progression of single picked guitar notes, and right in the middle of the song, you get a gorgeous cascade of lonely descending piano notes, fitting the song: while we contend with being all alone/with our hardly earned/and our bridges burned/we can count our days numbered/that’s the tragedy/of the strategy/of looking out for number one.

Evens mp3s :
Shelter two
On the face of it

Washington Post review here. Pitchfork review here.

Man Seeking 1/2 Woman, 1/2 Snake, for Non-Sexual Riding

The personal ad of the week, courtesy of the always-reliable Washington City Paper:

1/2 woman, 1/2 snake
My biggest fantasy is meeting a woman who is 1/2 human, 1/2 snake. I've always wanted to ride them (non-sexually), because I've heard the ride is smooth and comfortable. I can provide a saddle, and the perfect midnitht riding point. Rattlesnake tails create great salsa music, and thus are preferred. Serious inquiries only please.

More juicy little snakebites from this ad:

I wouldn't sell your mom for a billion dollars.

The quickest way to my heart is through my stomach The quickest way to my bed is through my wang and in the morning, I like my eggs cooked .

Something I said I'd never do but did anyway was have sex with a barnyard animal.

For me, the glass is usually empty. Totally. Fucking. Empty.

If I were president I'd make sodomy legal and conventional sex illegal.

I slaughtered a small nation on Valentine's Day.

I drink a shitload more than I should on my birthday.

When a friend brings up a politics, I usually tell them to shut up

If I get cat-called walking down the street I usually slap my ass

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Curtis Mayfield Remixed mp3s

This month, Rhino released Mayfield: Remixed - The Curtis Mayfield Collection, a ten-track album of Curtis Mayfield classics remixed by Little Louie Vega, Grandmaster Flash, Ashley Beedle, Eric Kupper, King Britt Scuba, and others. While not a total abomination, these versions will quickly dissolve into oblivion as the originals deservedly live on.

But for now, they're somewhat fun, and how can you not indulge in a curious listen?

Here are a couple of mp3s from the remix collection, and the originals for your immediate comparison.

Move On Up (Eric Kupper Vocal Mix)
Move On Up (Original)

(Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go (Maurice Joshua Nu Soul mix)
If There's A Hell...(Original)

For Lovelorn Young Clients


Our village love counsellor
tells her lovelorn young

clients that kittens cannot
be caught but if you stay

where you are and do some-
thing interesting the kit-

ten will soon come to you.


the rhetoricians might call this
a variety of the pathetic fallacy

but when we talk on the telephone
I imagine I hear cunt in your voice

the soft slish of honey on silk as
Henry Miller used to describe it.


Patiently I'm waiting
For the day when you'll discover
That it was always me
You were waiting for.

- Three poems from The Secret Room, by James Laughlin.

Killing Motherfuckers 101

Robert D. Kaplan's America's African Rifles, in April's Atlantic, provides insight on U.S. military training for indigenous troops in poor, unstable countries; specifically, Niger. The article, free of proselytizing about U.S. military training backfiring when the regimes we train become our enemies, focuses on the gritty interaction between U.S. and indigenous troops. Some excerpts from the article:

...imperialism has always been less about proconsuls than about local alliances and the indigenous troops, both of which allow the imperial authority to project power with minimum risk and fanfare. This was true for Rome, and it was particularly true for France and Britain, two thirds of whose campaigns consisted of soldiers enlisted in their colonies. Today it is also true for the United States.

[Nigerian] soldiers had proced their willingness to die in defense of not only their own but also of U.S. interests...

I mentioned to [U.S. Marine] Staff Sergeant Long that coups, being a feature of modernization, tend to happen wen a military is more institutionally advanced than its civilian authority. Long, a stocky, red-haired thirty-two year old with piercing eyes, who had been tagged for me by Major Baker as one of the brightest Marines in the unit, broke in about the Filipino military and the inefficiency and corruption of successive civilian regimes in the Philippines. His insights were impressive...Marines suck up knowledge wherever they can. And because their personal experiences are so different from those of journalists and academics, their company is invigorating in an intellectual sense.

With the training of indigenous troops at the heart of imperialism, and the rifle range at the heart of such training in our era, the range is truly the center of it all. "Every time you fire, a bad guy should bleed!" Sergeant Rivera yeleld. "Aim for the high center torse. Any hit is good. Don't worry about carving up the bulls-eye. This isn't target shooting. It's about fighting with a gun."

"Don't bend down. Just let the magazine drop. Minimize your movements or you're gonna fucking die." He demonstrated shooting and changing magazines while closing the distance from twenty-five to fifteen yards. The impressive thing was what wasn't happening: there were no wasted movements. "Notice," he said, "I'm not fast. I'm just smooth. It's not about speed but about efficiency."

"This isn't target practice!" he kept shouting. "This is about killing people!"

Rivera liked the fact that the targets were man-shaped silhouettes rather than concentric circles. "If you're aiming at a bulls-eye, you're being programmed to shoot paper. If you're aiming at a silhouette, you're being programmed to kill motherfuckers."

"...At a hundred yards I'll drop to the prone in two seconds, but then I'll methodically put two in his chest so the mutherfucker will die before he can find his iron sights. That way I'll live. And I wanna live, because back in America there are a log of women that love me." ...his soldiers laughed loudly.

"'re still fucking up. Remember, you're not learning how to shoot, but how to fight when you're tired and dirty. When you're tired and dirty and hurting, I want you to reach down and grab your balls. To find out what you're made of!" Everybody laughed. This wasn't about being mature or sensitive. This was about motivating young African soldiers.

Ciccone mp3s

Nothing like a little brit-guitar rock with important heartfelt life messages to help us get through a troubled time. These are from Ciccone's 2005 Eversholt Street, which was, according to their Human Recordings site, "recorded and produced entirely in the band's bedroom and is unashamedly British." The whole band shares a bedroom? Wicked.

Ciccone mp3s:

You're Beautiful, You'll Get By

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Playstation Portable Rocks the Runway...?

Top models including Maggie Rizer, Kirsty Hume, Guinevere, Rhea Durham and Alek Wek joined Nicky Hilton and Bijou Phillips to strut the runway in style where the sleek and sexy lines of PSP were matched with latest looks for fall and completed by the newest trend in fashion. Driving the trend of fashionable technology, top designers created custom-designed accessories inspired by PSP and its innovative design including a pure gold case encrusted with seven carats of yellow and black diamonds by Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons featuring Simmons Jewelry, tan suede muff with rabbit fur trim and gold studs by Jennifer Lopez and Black leather multi-pocket clutch with leather wrist strap by Marc Jacobs.

It's so hot.

Excerpted from this story from PR Newswire.

Photos of the accessories here.

Edie Sedgwick mp3s - "Molly Ringwald" and "Haley Joel Osment"

Justin Moyer, of Washington, D.C.'s El Guapo (Dischord), is Edie Sedgwick. His project is named after the celebrity actress above, and his new album, Her Love is Real...But She is Not, is comprised of fourteen songs named for 13 Hollywood actors (Arnold Schwarzenegger gets two songs). The songs are driven by pulsating rhythms, but Moyer veers them past wild and unraveled, and over the edge of weirdness.

Edie Sedgwick mp3s:
Molly Ringwald
Haley Joel Osment
Martin Sheen (from DeSoto Records)

Sad But True

Largeheartedboy linked to the Metallica Drummer video on ifilm today.

SNMNMNM - If! (mp3)

I made the novice mistake of not mentioning the name of the SNMNMNM album on yesterday's post. It's As Best We Can, from Unschooled Records, which you would have seen upon visiting the Unschooled site.

So shame on me. I'll make amends by making you smile with the first track from the album, which features deep, haunting lyrics like these:

...If I could find another girl better than you
Then I could walk on top of water
And rock out to some Slaughter...

SNMNMNM - If! (mp3)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

SNMNMNM (S&M & M&M) - Disco Barry (mp3)

The internationally esteemed Tallahassee Democrat calls SNMNMNM's Disco Barry a hilarious, giddy, tongue-in-cheek eulogy for the Disco Era that has the antic, goofball whimsy of early XTC compositions. Antic and goofball, yes, but that description doesn't touch on the way this thing grabs you and pulls you into infatuation on the first listening. It's electrodisco-dancy throughout, but it pauses for a brief harshness when it reminds you that the 70's are over, and ends with a surprise guitar lick that shouldn't fit, but somehow does. Magnificent.

SNMNMNM - Disco Barry (mp3)

As A Little Kid, I Wanted To Play With A Knife...

From the April Esquire, in which Elmore Leonard, at 79, tells us what he's learned:

Bad guys are not bad guys twenty-four hours a day.

As a little kid, I wanted to play with a knife and my mother wouldn't let me. I cried and she gave me a rubber one. I said, "Mom, a rubber knife just doesn't do it."

The best thing about my kids is the fact that I can count on them. I knew they'd understand when I married somebody their age.

A line of dialogue is not clear enough if you need to explain how it's said.

I was brought up Catholic. I don't go to receive the sacrament anymore. But it's important to me to go through this little drill about what my purpose is before I get out of bed every morning.

A pen connects you to the paper. It definitely matters.

I gave a talk in Florida and became friends with a judge who invited me to his home. He showed me his gardens and orchids. Then he showed me some photos. One was of a guy with a butcher knife in his head. Another was of a car that had been buried underground with a cadaver in it...He also showed me a photograph of a dead chicken that had been sexually violated.

Don't be surprised at anything untoward that you come across.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Chungking - Please Don't Talk (mp3)

Abe Froehman, The Sausage King of Chicago, returns!

I've just been playing hooky.

What, you expect me to say something now? Nope. I'll write more later, when I have words. I've been overplanning, overstudying, and overrunning. The words haven't caught up to me yet. I'm averbal.

So here's a tune from Chungking's Hungry Years with a title that's appropriate for this post. And while you're listening to it, look at the photograph with the lovely Jessie Banks, up there at the top of this post. Don't think, feeeeeeeeel. It is like a finger pointing away to the moon. Don't look at the finger or you'll miss all that heavenly glory. Do you understand? Anyone other than the Keoki who knows what the hell I'm talking about wins my eternal friendship and admiration.

Chungking - Please Don't Talk (mp3)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Butt Trumpet - I'm Ugly and I Don't Know Why (mp3)

It's oldies day here at the Smudge, because every now and then we arbitrarily make it so. Today we're beaming you back to the primordial year of 1994, when all the little teenage flagellates still swam around in a sea of old flannel, ratty sweaters, and goatees, all in a quest to be the grungiest in the ooze. Back then, there were so many records with decadent cartoony cover art that came straight from the Garbage Pail Kids. This track is from the Butt Trumpet album, Primitive Enema, that fits that description.

From their bio on Launch:

Influenced by early U.S. punk and hardcore, vocalist Thom Bone, bassist/vocalist Bianca Butthole, guitarist Blare N. Bitch, bassist Sharon Needles and drummer Jerry Geronimo formed Butt Trumpet in L.A. The band's vulgar song material caused a Massachusetts town to consider banning Butt Trumpet's major-label debut, Primitive Enema, after a citizen heard her 12-year-old daughter listening to what the mother called "audio porn." ~ John Bush, All Music Guide

Most of the members of Butt Trumpet moved on to form Betty Blowtorch, who were documentarized in this movie, which features the persistent (like a bad stain) Vanilla Ice and Guns N Roses' Duff McKagan.

Bianca Halstead (Butthole) died at 36 in an automobile accident in 2001.

Butt Trumpet - I'm Ugly and I Don't Know Why (mp3)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Jessie and Layla - Nearly Over Now (mp3)

Jessie and Layla are sisters from Dublin who make patient, melodic folk pop. Patient, but far from boring. In this track the sisters offer folksy lyrics supported by a repetitive zenlike acoustic guitar line, and accent it with a guitar that sounds like a cross between Beatlesesque sitar and Country Feedbackesque Peter Buck.

Above all, their voices are angelic in harmony. You can tell they've been singing together for a long time.

Jessie and Layla - Nearly Over Now (mp3)

What Not To Wear, Basic Training Edition

If you plan on going to basic military training, it is a fashion faux pas to wear a ring collar and sleeves with no shirt.

photo from a USAF Basic Military Training yearbook, circa 1983

Monday, March 07, 2005

Jason Moran - Gangsterism on the Rise (mp3)

This is your jazz blues on drugs.

Jason Moran plays it loose, takes liberties with form...hell, he perverts form, and lets it fall into an angry mess of notes, or so it seems. But then he sews it back together. Or, so it seems. You get lost, the way you do with Thelonius Monk, though Moran is neither as cool nor as subtle, but what he lacks in coolness he makes up for in boldness. He throws the heavy hand on the keys and lets the notes struggle with each other, and holds for that extra moment so they can't escape, but then he gives them release with a clean chord. It's like Sonic Youth for the piano, and sometimes damn near as loud.

Here he has his way with the blues (from
Jason Moran - Jump Up (mp3)

And here he just plain has his way:
Jason Moran - Gangsterism on the Rise (mp3)

Both tracks are from his beautifully weird February 2005 Blue Note release, Same Mother.

Blossom Dearie - Just One Of Those Things (Brazilian Girls Remix) (mp3)

I'll climax my little Verve Remixed 3 series with this smoking mix of Cole Porter's Just One Of Those Things, sung here by Blossom Dearie (from Give Him the Ohh-La-La (Verve)), and remixed by the Brazilian Girls, who have been surging in popularity.

Yeah, I'll just come out and say this version is red-hot. The bass line goes oh-so-low, and frames, rather than distracts, from Blossom's sultriness. The electronic effects are a sort of digital fountain of youth. You'll swear she's in her early twenties, that her voice was recorded with the music this year, rather than in 1957, and that she is supple and sassy, and dances and slithers as she sings.

Having said all that, the bass line in the original Blossom Dearie version will shake you no less.

And having posted those, why the hell not throw in another version by yet another Verve artist: the great Ella Fitzgerald.

Blossom Dearie - Just One Of Those Things (Brazilian Girls Remix) (mp3)

Blossom Dearie - Just One Of Those Things (mp3)

Ella Fitzgerald - Just One Of Those Things (mp3)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Lacerating and Unforgettable

Orwell says somewhere that no one ever writes the real story of their life.
The real story of a life is the story of its humiliations.
If I wrote that story now--
radioactive to the end of time--
people, I swear, your eyes would fall out, you couldn't peel
the gloves fast enough
from your hands scorched by the firestorms of that shame.
Your poor hands. Your poor eyes
to see me weeping in my room
or boring the tall blonde to death.

-from Memoir, by Vijay Seshadri, in the Feb 28 issue of the New Yorker.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Billie Holiday - Speak Low (Bent Remix) (mp3)

It's trendy to be a female throwback jazz singer these days. A lot of the new batch are compared to the great Billie Holiday: Norah Jones, Jolie Holland, Madeleine Peyroux (who sounds most like her), and others. Certainly, some of the new singers are paying homage by emulating the timeless Ms. Holiday.

Nottingham, England's Bent pay homage in their own way, with their remix of Speak Low, from the upcoming Verve Remixed 3.

The Verve website has this to say about the Bent remix:

In meeting the challenge of working with one of the most recognizable yet heart-wrenching voices in music, the English group Bent heap great reverence on Billie Holiday by preserving the intense intimacy that colored all her music. Bent, popular for their lush, organic dance-floor escapes, show a knack for nuance and instrumentation on their version of "Speak Low," gently smearing Holiday's muted tones and turning the song into part nighttime samba, part orchestral serenade.

Billie Holiday - Speak Low (Bent Remix)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Orgasmic Chemistry in Baltimore

Jess Beaton

Jess Beaton writes "Orgasmic Chemistry," a sex column for the Johns Hopkins University Newsletter. News story in the Baltimore Sun.

From the Sun article:

After Jess Beaton's boss recovered from his initial embarrassment, "Orgasmic Chemistry" became kind of "an office joke" - which got old fast.

"It was funny the first couple of times," she said. "And then it was like, shut up. After a while it was like, let's talk about human rights in Africa. But they always wanted to talk about the sex column."

In her superiors' eyes, she said, the column ultimately seemed to eclipse her professional insights, and almost her whole presence.

Another writer who was a little down on her column experience has been at it the longest. A graduate student at New York University, 29-year-old Yvonne Fulbright has churned out "Sexpert Tells All" for the past four years.

True, the publicity facilitated the promotion of her first book, The Hot Guide to Safer Sex, and helped secure her an agent for a second (at the moment called Twenty Minute Tantric)...

Recent articles include:

Girls can take things into their own hands - about female masturbation. This one has a classic feedback comment that you must read, by a business owner from Michigan who has a pillowcase with Joaquin Phoenix's picture on it...

How to keep a hook-up as just a hook-up

When girls smooching other girls can be bad

Bad sex can ruin mood and morale

Laying down the law: the booty call contract

Role play your way to sexual satisfaction

Get tied up with something besides work this weekend

and my favorite title:

Getting some T&A from your own TA

Donnie Darko Director's Cut Review


Joseph Arthur - Anywhere With You (mp3)

Joseph Arthur sounds laid back and aimless, and so does his guitar, but we know he knows exactly where he's going. This is what Beck and Keith Richards might sound like together.

This is from the And the Thieves are Gone EP, the "companion" record to the Our Shadows Will Remain LP.

Joseph Arthur - Anywhere With You (mp3)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Vomit With Me

...after you read this personal ad from the Washington City Paper:

looking for love...
in all the wrong places. I saw you puking in the bathroom, then you saw me puking outside the bar. Crossed paths again when you were beating your bf(?) in the street, and you saw me last getting arrested in DC. Want to try ? Maybe we could keep each other out of trouble...

When: Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Where: DC

I saw a: Woman

I am a: Man

Date posted: Saturday, January 29, 2005


Don't Tell Ken

Sorority Slut Barbie, which you can enjoy along with many other classic Barbie collectables, like Barbie Got Back and Gangsta Bitch Barbie, from Chantelle Fiddy's World of Grime.

ElMay (Lara Meyerratken) - Window Seat (mp3)

ElMay is the solo project of Lara Meyerratken, the keyboardist and singer who collaborates with seemingly every other artist these days, including Ben Lee and Crooked Fingers. Her website won't lead you anywhere - no bio, pictures, or discography, but you will find three pretty songs from her demo that you can stream and then drag out of your temporary internet files. And then there's this track that starts like an old movie or radio program, and quickly gives way to a sincere song about the process of loss. Okay, the lyrics are a little too sincere for my taste, but there's something about her voice that lulls me and want to follow her into a dark forest.

El May - Window Seat (mp3)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Soel (Presented by St. Germain) - Le Vicomte (mp3)

Turn it up, and don't even try to remain in your chair. You won't find anything else on St. Germain trumpeter Pascal Ohse's (who is Soel) upcoming Memento approach the tangential rhythmicity of this hyperactive track. The rest of the album consists of a subtler fusion of jazz, soul, funk, and ambience in varying degrees, and demands closer listening than the pulsating Le Vicomte. Shining Pain (mp3) is loose jazzy fun, and To This World (mp3) asks a hard question after lulling you with ambience that slowly fuses with a soulful voice.

Soel - Le Vicomte (mp3)

The Supremes - Buttered Popcorn.

Florence Ballard, Diana Ross, Mary Wilson
The Supremes

The Oscars are over, and now it's time to catch up on the academy award-winning movies that you missed, at the theater or on DVD. Either way, the best way to enjoy a good movie is with some greasy, sticky, gooey, salty buttered popcorn. Just ask The Supremes.

Hip-O Select recently released The Complete Motown Singles, Volume 1: 1959-1961, which contains every single and B-side released by Motown in that period. You'll find this track on it, as well as the alternate version (extended version with the brass turned up and guitar quieted). This track was their second single, released in July 1961, and it went all the way up to number...nothing. It went nowhere. It's one of the few songs featuring lead vocals from Florence Ballard, the original lead singer of the Primettes, who changed their name to the Supremes. Florence has a harsher, more aggressive voice than Diana Ross, and it fits the suggestive lyrics better than Diana's would have:

When I asked him what was happenin’ in the world today
He said more butter, more butter, more butter, more

My baby likes buttered popcorn
He likes it greasy
And sticky
And gooey
And salty
I said what do you like
He says you know what I like
I like buttered popcorn

Florence Ballard died of a coronary thrombosis at 32.

The Supremes - Buttered Popcorn (mp3)

If you want to compare this with the alternate version, send me an e-mail and I'll send you the other track.