Category: Music

Idiosyncratic Interconnections: Little Richard and *Gay on your resume* (Episode 2)

Posted by – September 25, 2015

Idiosyncratic Interconnections

Little Richard on an effeminate manner canceling out racism and workplace dynamics for gay black men today

In this ^^ Sally Jesse Raphael interview with Little Richard, Sally Jesse refers to the “sociological” quirk that activist, web journalist, and hip-hopper Yitz Jordan (Y-LOVE) mentioned—and backed up with studies & statistics—on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, hear that July 2014 segment here…the reality that gay black men or black men perceived as effeminate are seen as less of a threat and more readily accepted for jobs.

In his exhaustively-well-researched Quartz feature, Yitz points out new survey results by “Princeton University sociologist David Pedulla,” “in Social Psychology Quarterly,” that proved for black male applicants, “coming out on your resume,” for example listing gay student organization membership, volunteer history with LGBT nonprofits, etc., “effectively cancelled out” negative stereotypes of black men due to “the feminine stereotype” of gay men. And as Yitz noted in the WNYC interview: these are two ugly and wrong stereotypes colliding, black men who’re gay might not be more effeminate or less of a so-called “threat” even—see Omar in The Wire, or, y’know, look outside and simply observe the staggering infinite diversity around you—and making goofy, ham-fisted blanket assumptions of broad human groups like these will inevitably offend and dis many individuals.
But, it being the second decade of the 21st century notwithstanding, hiring managers change their decisions predictably based on old-ass, hackneyed stereotypes and good ol’ fashioned racism, and their biases are so ingrained and foreseeable, applicants can game them to their advantage (ala “game theory”). Dr. Pedulla’s results quantify the effects in hard numbers and bar graphs; survey responses even suggest “that for black male applicants, coming out may actually result in a higher starting salary.”

Interconnection: Little Richard

What is shocking is that, according to Little Richard, this loophole or “canceling out” of reflexive distrust and anxieties held true even during the ugliest segregation… including in white night clubs in the early 1950s Deep South. The flamboyant costumes were an asset: he noticed rockin’ the full face-cake-makeup, mascara mustache and cape opened doors and allowed him to get gigs no other black man could.
Bull Connor-type night club owners be like COME ON IN… according to L.R., they’d let him in even when making his brothers and bandmates wait outside.

Fascinating loop-hole in the fear…I expanded my writing on the subject as it’s very interesting the way the anthropological imperative to mate so nakedly shapes social norms because of the stereotypes around black men’s virility, especially in the Jim Crow South, the assumption of “unfair competition” vis a vis the below-belt unmentionables…
But closer inspection reveals these phenomena to be more horrible and downright sad than anything else. MOST lynchings in the pre-war South were provoked by allegations of sexual impropriety and/or the social overstepping of color barriers.

Just in the annals of music of the Deep South alone there are far too many such instances.  The infamous manslaughter of legendary Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin especially stands out.  A pivotal forerunner of Zydeco music and a key pillar of Creole music in general, Amédé was the first musician to put the Louisiana Creole sound on vinyl.  But got killed over some nonsense after playing a house dance near Eunice, Louisiana. The most common story says that some white men were angered when a white woman, daughter of the master of the estate, lent her handkerchief to Amédé, creating brief handtouch pale-hand-on-brown that shocked the assembled, though some versions imply he got more hanky-panky than handkerchief from off-limits upper crust women broadly…. and that after Ardoin left the manse for the night, he was run over by a Model A Ford that crushed his head and throat, smashing his voicebox to smithereens.  He never performed again, and though accounts vary wildly on when the attack occurred and how long he survived institutionalized, Ardoin definitely died in the asylum/crippitorium in Pineville, Louisiana.
Amédé’s demise is explored in detail in Chapter 4 of Michael Tisserand’s The Kingdom of Zydeco—© 1998 ISBN: 978-1-61145-615-8—and there are more versions of the story than people reminiscing about it, with even those who knew Amédé offering multiple, differing accounts. But what makes Tisserand’s Amédé chapter so compelling is the character of Amédé; it’s like he existed outside of the timestream of pre-war Louisiana, his preternatural talent out-of-time, like a space alien or weird, accordion-only savant. Knowing that he had otherworldly accordion abilities made him cocky, too, and his attitude and tendency to largely disregard racist backwoods mores and overstep color lines probably got him killed.

Anywho….. Many of Little Richard’s contemporaries were shut out of the active touring in the Deep South he enjoyed, as Jim Crow blocked—and its raw vengeful intent really was more to “cockblock”—many black bluesmen and early rockers seeking a broader audience. Even in the late ’60s, Jimi Hendrix, who actually got his start running away from his Pacific Northwest home and, under a fake name, touring in Little Richard’s band, played on the tele via the BBC but got no airtime on American TV…

Nick

Little Richard on Sesame Street, 2010ish

This is the second episode in a new series, “Idiosyncratic Interconnections,” in which I unveil unusual connections betwixt two things that—most likely—only I would notice… realizing a seemingly unrelated thing unexpectedly interconnects with another thing to give insight into the first thing. Each episode connects two things. Let me know if ya’ll would like an Episode 3.

 

Go back to II: Episode 1

Idiosyncratic Interconnections: Loshon haRa and New Orleans R&B (Episode 1)

Posted by – September 24, 2015

Part of a new series, “Idiosyncratic Interconnections,” in which I unveil oddball connections betwixt two things that—most likely—only I, in my unusual mind, would notice… realizing a seemingly unrelated thing unexpectedly interconnects with another thing to explain, illuminate or give insight into the first thing. Each episode connects two things. Let me know if ya’ll like the series.

Idiosyncratic Interconnections

New Orleans R&B songs illustrating why Loshon HaRa, “tongue o’ evil,” and Rechilus (tale-bearing) is so bad

In September 2013 I last blogged on the subject of Loshon HaRa, complete with original cartoon-painting imagining the demonic forces that can escape your pie-hole via Loshon HaRa

Loshon HaRa is like libel, to willfully defame or dis someone, to talk smack outside of respectful norms. But unlike slander/libel, the truth is not your shield. Telling others “Suzie is a meth-whore” is Loshon HaRa even if she totally is, since you’ll never have the omniscient knowledge necessary to harshly judge another person, and relaying the dis to peers is assuming the role of judge and dropping the hammer / delivering a sentence of lost reputation. Not your place; keep it zipped. Unless telling it to someone (singular) could protect them.

poster from World War II

We all have our share of the yetzer HaRa (innate evil inclination, urge to destroy) and it can be difficult to hold your tongue. Certainly in the foibles and outright fails of your peers there is a ton of comedic value to leave holstered if one is circumspect in talking of others, plus the prospect that you will look cooler in contrast to the latest idiocy wrought by idiots is ever-tempting. Resist.

The biggest component to guarding your tongue is really mindset. A fidgety, itchy, dissatisfied mind is more likely to spread defamatory info than a chilled-out and content one. No one’s perfect, but following ANY rules of speech is next to impossible without a cultivated calmness of approach, deliberative and careful lips and larynx….

The verse “Do not go as a gossipmonger among your people” (Lev. 19:16) bans all forms of Loshon HaRa. However, the term “gossipmonger,” refers specifically to rechilus, “tale-bearing” or gossip that may sow the seeds of ill will or conflict between two or more others. Whereas directly derogatory info can cause others/the community to lose respect for the subject, rechilus can cause damage to relationships between the subject and his fellows, undermining the accord between another and a 3rd party.
“She thinks you’re dishonest, Chaim” being a classic rechilus example. Even if true, relaying the slight harms both the slighted (Chaim) and the slighter (the 3rd party who originated the negativity). It is wrong to help the initial slighter dis Chaim; they can wrong Chaim just fine without your help or complicity. Additionally, once the offense spreads, it can get a life of its own, pinball all over the community, go viral, damaging the social fabric. Like a computer virus or bug—0 where 1 ought to be—messin’ up the Kabbalistic code that animates the spiritual plane and sustains the constant earthy process of Creation™; put another way, “a disturbance in The Force.”     What began as something small can snowball, mutate… 48 hours and several “telephone game” manglings of 3rd-and-4th-party versions later, the FDNY is trying to talk Chaim down from the George Washington Bridge….

Though Sefer Shmiras haLoshon “way of speech/laws of the tongue book” is a Jewish thing, specifically Orthodox Judaism/yeshivah thang, plain from the sources I found, from Daily Sefer Chofetz Chaim and Jewish Heritage Foundation, both which require some knowledge of yeshivish terms to understand, there is nonetheless broader applicability….

People need more structure and discipline when it comes to speech, to minimize damage to the social fabric, so how can I make laws of the tongue more relatable…?
Well, most can relate to music. To wit…

Interconnection: Illustrative New Orleans R&B songs

New Orleans R&B is exemplified by Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Snooks Eaglin, Allen Toussaint… I think of it as a close relative of the piano blues and an important forefather of rock, but Fats Domino songs like Be My Guest with prominent walking bass-line on piano and skank on the uptick inadvertently created the ska/reggae sound, as well….

“Big Mouth,” written by Fats Domino & Dave Bartholomew…

News is out all over town
Big mouth
You standing over there
Like you don’t know what it’s all about

I guess you satisfied,
that you made me cry
big mouth…

Allen Toussaint is best known for songs he wrote for other performers, and Gossip Gossip was sung by Diamond Joe.  Now considered a rare soul track, the original Diamond Joe 45 is a mega rarity…

Gossip, gossip
can’t stop us
from gettin’ along
they don’t know we gotta
solid thing goin’ onnnnn

they get a charge
draggin’ other folks down…

Advance to next II: episode 2 | or II: episode 3

Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, as Relevant Now as Ever

Posted by – June 29, 2015

Bringing together strands of recent thoughts … the blues…

Recently I updated the “Got the blues so bad” mix/Nick’s True Blues Playlist – skewing heavily to the first bluesmen recorded vs later interpreters, the Southern backwoods “sundown comin’ & klan caught up to me at the crossroads” blues and that type of bluesman. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Magic Slim, John Lee Hooker, the genuine article, the real bluesmen and those true to their spirit, like The Animals, or The Rolling Stones or Eric Clapton in their harder blues moments…

Mick Jagger knows the old blues lyrics, somehow Muddy Waters and Harpo Slim and recordings like that made their way across the pond to London, but ol’ Mick doesn’t convey the visceral blues that caused early American bluesmen to shout and stomp it…maybe Mick Jagger could pull off “so many beautiful supermodels (Jerry Hall Blues)” or the “Bad Music Video Dancing Blues” but can’t convey the blues felt down on the plantation, the woes of the dispossessed sharecropper’s son turned-itinerant musician…though, in fairness, the Stones pulled off some authentic blues standards and genuinely bluesy original tunes, and Keith Richards certainly comes from the ugliest corner of the wrong side of the tracks, England, and can definitely firmly grasp the blues, could shout the “1950s dentist got no anesthetic Blues“.

But I’m talking about the Southland that birthed the blues (about the song), the blues that began as slave stomps and chain-gang hollers, then grew increasingly sophisticated with the addition of guitars, harmonicas, piano, and eventually electrified instruments (none have really plumbed the depths of fully electric synthesizer blues, The Animals did lots with the organs and early synth-keyboards available in the ’60s, Steve Winwood had the whole enchilada of synthpop tech but just scratched the surface).

Listening to the electric blues on Florida St. and Imogene by the old freight train junction, Mobile, Alabama, thanks to fellow-Spring Hill College Class of 2004 Mobile kid Daniel Spotswood, I learned something about the blues that isn’t in the books, that the blues isn’t just a musical style, it’s an emotion.  It’s something visceral, intangible, possibly magical or at least existing in the undefined anthropological ether… something that might be non-recordable on tape.

The blues, the Real Blues, came from the systematic oppression, de facto (sharecropping) and actual outright slave economy of the deepest Deep South, songs of hell, songs of humanity persisting within the fieriest of Beelzebub’s trials…

The life of Robert Johnson illustrates what I mean. He was born from Julia Dodd’s re-marriage after Mr. Dodd got run out of town by a literal lynch mob over a woman and the white plantation caste that owned the area probably dispossessed the Dodds of everything.  In the Mississippi Delta counties especially, generational socio-economic gains could be washed away as fast as the Mississip’ risin’ if you were on the wrong side of the vicious legal and police-state-enforced Apartheid system—AKA Jim Crow— in effect in the first half of the 20th century. In Robert Johnson’s times, racism wasn’t just hateful attitudes but enshrined in law, enforced by the state; segregation, oppressive discrimination, denial of economic advancement/freedom in socio-economic space, and sudden death sentences by angry mob… all of this was essentially the law.

One of Johnson’s most covered songs, “Crossroads Blues”—even Cyndi Lauper recorded a rendition, 2010—refers to these Jim Crow laws. The second verse includes “the sun goin’ down now boy, dark gon’ catch me here”: alluding to the “sundown laws” or curfew, that was ubiquitous in the Deep South.  The blues still have a great deal of saliency.

When unrest erupts following the conflicts in Ferguson, MO, for example, and the news is analyzing the sundown curfews, few grasp the painful history. It’s shrugged off as necessary “to maintain order.”
But, when black people hear “sundown curfews imposed in Ferguson,” many probably think of “don’t be found when the sun’s gone down.”

I think of Robert Johnson.

Nick

Nick Reviews Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music”

Posted by – March 25, 2015

Been getting to the bottom of the bottom getting to me
Holding up the mirror to everything I don’t want to see
But it ain’t all flowers
Sometimes you gotta feel the thorns
And when you play with
The Devil you know you gonna get the horns
Whah-hooooooo-hooo-hooo!

That visceral howl WHAH-HOOO-HOOO-HOOO in the grungy, swirling psychedelic track It Ain’t All Flowers closing out Sturgill Simpson’s sophomore album hits a gong deep in the heart. There’s pain & the outlasting/pyrrhic defeat of pain in the howl… a 21st century rebel yell from the wrong side of Appalachia… a wolfman made of used-up ore howling into void… only an ex-coal-country man’s howl could resonate like that. Every time it makes me wince; it’s a cry that stings you.

That authentic texture, something deep and real in the layers of sound … that is what makes Sturgill Simpson’s latest album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music so interesting and special.
It also makes the album needful of hi-def. Without, at bare minimum, good headphones and big-pipe streaming, the music is flattened, sound is removed, you lose layers, the resonances, and that howl doesn’t seem interesting and goes right past you. The album lends itself to hi-fi analog, to vinyl, so it’s no surprise the first pressing of 10,000-vinyl Metamodern Sounds in Country Music records seemed to sell out instantly.

Spotify gets you closer to hi-fidelity sound than most:

It wasn’t until I was 11 or so when I learned that not all country music is awful, woeful crying, guys bemoaning what they’ve lost over sorrowful tunes. Lost mah truck, mah woman and mah dawg. I started to realize there’s more to country than that, that some country is good, with instrument-playing talent high.

An understanding of folk and country is essential to have cultural literacy, common points of reference, etc., as an American; in Stephen King’s novels there are repeated references to Hank Williams Sr. lyrics, to throw up one example. But as a Southerner, understanding country can be crucial, and a healthy appreciation of country can be a social gateway to the South’s biggest musical fandom.

My favorite country nowadays is the more bluegrassy, rockabilly, and folk stuff—throwback folk like Old Crow Medicine Show, indie country like Steve Earle. So Sturgill Simpson is right up my alley.

I rate Metamodern Sounds in Country Music as the must listen country album of 2014 because of the rockabilly country swirled with grunge walls of sound, intricate but never cluttered or overkill-y.  It stays straightforward. And most of all for its originality, that it covers unusual subject matter to put it mildly.

In Voices, Simpson contemplates the useless voices of self-doubt, the vapid voices of junk news media, and more (it’s layered). And in the lead-off track Turtles All The Way Down, he lists some of the mind-expanding psychedelic drugs that went into creating the record, following this gem of a stanza…

Bet you didn’t expect THIS in that Kentucky hills accent:
“There’s a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain”
Turtles All The Way Down

When the above ^ was played on NPR, I’m sure that listeners worldwide did spit-takes, let the car slip into the wrong lane.

Doubtless the Turtles All The Way Down music video was NOT in the rotation of music videos on CMT. And that Sturgill Simpson detonates country music norms is what makes him so interesting and unique.

Spectrum Pulse music reviews pointed out Simpson’s existence to me last year. Big tip of the hat to Mark of Spectrum Pulse for that. Your review led to mine.

I judge every element of an album with the mix, instrument-playing, musical arrangement, lyrics, etc., all having weight. My music reviews don’t hinge solely or predominantly on vocals, which is mostly how music is judged today in the age of The Voice, X-Factor, American Idol, et al.
Sturgill Simpson’s low, East Kentucky hill-man’s country drawl might be jarringly unfamiliar or off-putting for some, especially for ya dadgum Yankees; for me it’s familiar – very like North Carolina hills or North Alabama accents.  B+ for vocals.

I give Metamodern Sounds in Country Music five out of five rabbits for the sonic tapestries offered, wall of sound-ish but with few instruments, uncomplicated. It Ain’t All Flowers is probably the best example; it closes the album on a front porch-philosopher contemplative note of resignment… psychedelic keyboards—think vaguely funereal Incense & Peppermints—create a dark descending spiral of notes, not as much alt-country on acid as it is acid on country… If you “listen small,” catching the small details and beautiful things, you’ll find a lot to love in Metamodern Sounds.
And, foremost, for its exploration of heretofore-untouched topics. The freshness is super appreciated; hopefully country music will grow some cojones and greenlight more unconventional country albums and offer us fewer cringe-worthy regurgitations of endlessly rehashed country clichés.

You can listen to the album here for free (via Spotify) or above (also via Spotify).

5/5

Image: Five out of five rabbits

 

 

 

SCORE: FIVE BUNS
ND-RRR (Nick Dupree Rabbit Rating Reviews)

Still waiting on dem luminescent lizard surgeons from outer space to descend for my pain-ectomy.

—Nick

Nick Reviews Neil Young’s “Freedom”

Posted by – June 1, 2014

Neil Young’s 1989 “comeback album” Freedom is probably Neil Young’s best work, and I think it should be considered in the rare category, “best Folk rock albums ever.”

Freedom opens with an acoustic performance of “keep on rawkin in the free werld” live in concert (cut from an outdoor set he did at Jones Beach, New York).  Though concert recordings can be annoying with the crowd noise and whatnot, and this is no exception, bookending the beginning and end of an album with acoustic and electric versions of the album’s lead single or most representative song is a Neil Young tradition. In addition to that, the following track, 2 – “Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part 1)”, has simple guitar lines that mirror “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free World,” so leading off with it established something Young builds on…
One track lends itself to the next, music and lyrics setting up a foundation for the next song. This “album as a cohesive whole” isn’t seen as often today, nowadays an “album” is more a “best of” collection of an artist’s recent songs, selection of stuff recorded over a certain timeframe, or worse, hit single… filler… random crap… potential single #2… filler… more filler, then please become a single #3.
One of the things that takes a record from great album to one of the “best evaaaaar” is its “as a whole” impact. Though Freedom‘s wholeness isn’t as clear/blatant as a concept album’s with a single unifying theme or story, the songs unite loosely around ideas of political, personal, and relationshipal freedom. Not just the songs themselves but their sequence, how one song sets up the next, matters here, and I definitely give more points for the whole album being a canvas.

Favorite moments:
As mentioned above, “Keep on Rockin’ In The Free World” is an excellent lead-off for the very related second song “Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part 1).” Like its predecessor, “Crime in the City” throws out vignettes about street-level reality in 1980s North America or “the free world,” backed by simple but powerful guitar lines. Then, Young adds more: electric guitar compliments the acoustic guitar that’s driving the longer, almost spoken word-vignettes, and following the second vignette about a producer there’s a touch of pedal steel guitar, then separating the third and fourth stories more pedal steel guitar in the fill, then the fill between stories four and five is a sweeping swirl of pedal steel guitar, almost like the Hawaiian-style of steel guitar, then the final lengthy musical break brings in subtle saxophone lines that mirror the guitar lines. All brilliantly done, and the vignettes or dispatches from the front lines of urban decay are touching and real. The third story even has you sympathizing with the corrupt 1980s cop on the beat as he improvises survival amidst the inner city hellscape.

Song #3 – “Don’t Cry” is grunge rock in its purest form, raw guitar feedback-y as hell backing raw emotional lyrics, one magnifying the other. If songs like this don’t make the point that Neil Young is one of the founding fathers of grunge, that grunge’s Mt. Rushmore would have Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Black Francis/Pixies, and Neil Young, then Neil Young’s 1995 album with Pearl Jam, Mirror Ball, will hit you with that point until it’s blatantly obvious.

“Hangin’ on a limb” is #4, an achingly beautiful song of love and loss and freedom with Linda Ronstadt’s backing vocals subtle and muted but not too muted, just right. The lyrics say a lot in a few subtle lines:

And when the melody
Through the window called
It echoed in the courtyard
And whispered in the halls
He played it through the night
She knew he had to go
There was something about freedom
He thought he didn’t know.

and though their love was hangin’ on a limb,
she taught him how to dance

The part about a melody’s infectious whispers changing lives is striking, and this, along with the lines in 7. “Someday” reminding us where men’s labor goes “Workin’ on that great Alaska pipeline / Many men were lost in the pipe / They went to fuelin’ cars / now smog might turn to stars… Someday” brings it home for me… We need great songwriting like this to express human life and its intricate adaptations to horror and beauty and everything.

I judge everything, with each element, instrument-playing, musical arrangement, lyrics, etc., all having weight. My music reviews don’t hinge solely or predominantly on vocals, which is mostly how music is judged today in the age of The Voice, X-Factor, American Idol, et al.
Neil Young’s high, abrasive countertenor might be off-putting for some, but I give his 1989 comeback album Freedom five out of five rabbits because I “listen small,” catching the small details and beautiful things.  This album is like a small, intricately arranged piece of jewelry with each element subtle and measured to never be gaudy or overkill-y.
If you like folk rock and/or country love songs and/or the grunge sound, check out Freedom.

You can listen to the album here for free (via Spotify) or above (also via Spotify).

5/5

Image: Five out of five rabbits

 

 

 

SCORE: FIVE BUNS

—Nick

Nick Reviews Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”

Posted by – March 12, 2014

This album, Random Access Memories, won the Grammy for Album of the Year last month, sold umpteen-bajillion copies/went platinum in an era of “people don’t buy albums,” and hit number one in over 20 countries, and after listening to it I understand why.  It has the mass appeal of Europop/techno-dance, while being way more clever and creative than most any discothèque-type techno that came before it.  You do get the repetitive loops endemic to techno, and that annoyed me sometimes, but often Daft Punk mixes it up so much with a diversity of sounds and actual musical instruments, and modular synthesizers like their obvious forefathers, Kraftwerk, that it works.

Evidently they had all the tracks recorded live with real musicians performing all the instruments, and limited the use of electronic sounds to drum machines, a modular synthesizer, and vintage vocoders. The music is still predominantly electronic, but it’s electronic music with a distinctly “analog” feel, again the Kraftwerk sound, and the album is so creative because it puts the music of the 70s and 80s in a blender, ending up with an interesting gumbo of electric sounds and musical instruments. Track 6 – “Lose Yourself to Dance” reminds me of how “Der Kommissar” (original Falco version) layers electric guitar over synthesizers.

“Get Lucky” (Track 8) became the biggest international hit single in recent memory.  It’s so popular that it has prompted innumerable parodies and tributes, some of the weirdest include Postmodern Jukebox‘s ridiculous (but wonderfully violined) Irish tenor version, and the partially a cappella version performed for the Sochi Olympics opening ceremonies by the MVD Police Choir (video here). This wasn’t just the most surreal moment of the Sochi games, it was quite possibly the most surreal moment of any Olympic opening ceremony ever.  
The American media, typically oblivious, reported this as the “police choir,” but the MVD is the Interior Ministry.  The MVD are bodyguards for the Czar “president,” top ministers and other key officials, alongside their core role of beating protesters with clubs in the streets, silencing the opposition, spying on dissidents, etc.; these aren’t “police” in U.S. or UK terms, and we’ve yet to coin an American neologism for “combining the jobs of the U.S. Secret Service and the East German Stasi,” though “secret police” almost covers it and “Interior Ministry” more than gets the point across in European and Eurasian/Mideast contexts.  

This weird moment exemplifies the growth of a global language & pop culture: note that Random Access Memories is in English, every lyric sung, every word spoken, but is being embraced nonetheless as a European discothèque-type thing from Sochi near the North Caucasus to Reykjavik to Helsinki, and this is super clear watching the diverse hodgepodge of Russian guys in the secret police Glee club belting out perfect imitations of an English language song.  
This surreal performance also epitomizes how many feel about Russia’s Olympics: “oh great, the oppressive regime’s doing a celebratory butt-dance and singing perfect harmonies about getting lucky on every TV screen in the world!”  It isn’t my favorite track.

My favorite track is Track 10 – “Motherboard,” which throws a symphony orchestra into synthesizers, now string section, now woodwinds, live drums, then toward the end throws (what sounds like) ectoplasm or quicksand or viscous Cthulhu dung or something atop that.

There are a lot of oddball collaborations here, with the song done with “Rainbow Connection” songwriter Paul Williams, Track 7 “Touch,” in which Williams (still alive!) sings the lyrics he wrote about…touching… over/between electronic experiments, the weirdest by far. The Daft Punk + Paul Williams collaborations (he also wrote—but doesn’t sing—lyrics for Track 9 “Beyond”) will go down in history as one of the most bizarre musical collaborations ever, right up there with the weird Bing Crosby-David Bowie “Little Drummer Boy” duet.

Paul Williams also gave the acceptance speech for Daft Punk’s Album of the Year Grammy.

I don’t usually like electronic music. But overall, I give this album four out of five rabbits.

Image: Four out of five rabbits

 

 

SCORE: FOUR BUNS

 

—Nick

This Song Has Been Stuck In My Head For Over A Week!

Posted by – August 12, 2009

My other half and I have been playing and singing this ode to anesthesiologists (called anaesthetists in Britain) for over a week now! It’s really a classic parody!

Video available in HD:

My favorite lyrics from the song (sung to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart) are:

’cause we sometimes check the screen
and every now and then, we write stuff!
And if we have to intervene,
we inject a bit of white stuff!
And we offer to alter the lights,
or the height of the bed,
or fiddle with the radio, change the CD,
we even check the patient, occasionally!!

And if they move, we turn up the vapor,
and then we go back, to reading the paper!

Hat tip to Dr. Latte at Medical Marginalia for showcasing this hilarious song!

You can also see the Amateur Transplants perform this live here!

Nick

Michael Jackson Dance Tribute, Herald Sq. Subway Station

Posted by – July 22, 2009

In NYC’s Herald Sq. Subway Station, a group of subway performers in “King of Pop” t-shirts dance to “Can You Feel It” and “Billie Jean” in tribute to the late Michael Jackson. Feat. The Fabulous Dancing Baby and a Random Eastern European kid.

For those of us who were kids in the 80s, Michael Jackson was our Elvis. No one sold as many records, no one danced like that, and no one ever will again. He was IT. After the Bad album came out, I practically wore the cassette out, and was doing the “moonwalk” in my small manual wheelchair by popping wheelies going backwards. Back then everyone wanted to BE Michael.

Through his music and the videos and memories, Michael will always be with us.

Nick

Los Colorados cover of Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold”

Posted by – May 2, 2009

I don’t like Katy Perry.  She’s another computerized, autotuned pop singer.  And she should she get some sort of penalty, or perma-ban, for actually performing a song called “Ur So Gay” (the actual spelling she used).

But I love this cover of Perry’s “Hot and Cold” by this polka influenced Ukrainian band on YouTube.

It’s funny.  And authentic music by real musicians.  Turning the fake real.

UPDATE 05/03/09: Upon further research, I see that Los Colorados is a rock band, and their series of songs with accordion, polka drum, etc. are something akin to “MTV Unplugged” and not what they normally sound like at all. This is what they typically sound like, solid alt-rock, with good drumming and guitar work.

Mouse polka band

Mouse polka band

Nick

Song Dedication: Might Tell You Tonight

Posted by – April 23, 2009

Might Tell You Tonight – Scissor Sisters

Dedicated to my girl.

“…want to burrow like a sparrow.”

Nick