Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday Babyblogging: Road Trip!!

Just heading out to dinner with the Eschatonians, but wanted to babyblog, now that we've found the camera.


SP is sprawled on an ugly bedspread.

Rosie is asleep in a stroller, her nose looking distinctly "On the Waterfront" after a brutal encounter with a rest area sidewalk.

And Young Thers is sprawled watching Nicktoons while Dad changes for dinner.

Viva la Road Trip!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Et tu, Mick?

I'm speechless.

By far the most unlikely star of a prospective fall situation comedy is that still-active lead singer of the Rolling Stones, who has signed on to an ABC pilot for its fall schedule. Just to increase the degree of unlikelihood, Mr. Jagger shot his scenes for the New York-based pilot in a hotel room in Auckland, New Zealand, last week.

That was the culmination of a saga at least as whimsical as the premise of the show, which, for now, anyway, is titled "Let's Rob Mick Jagger."

(I will confess to a crush on Donal Logue, however, just part of my whole Irish lout thing.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

White Rap

This may in fact be the worst thing ever, and that includes Olestra.

Average Homeboy

My favorite lines?

My house is just
Middle class
And every week it's my job to
Cut the grass.


I don't have a butler
Or a maid
And my exterminator is
A can of Raid.

(I especially like the computerized cockroach. Nice touch.)

No idea when this is from, but I'm guessing the second half of the 1980's. If it's any later, this guy definitely needs to be shot.

What it reminds me of most is the stunning work of DeeDee King, whose video "Funky Man" is a lot like this in style and pacing.

I like hot dogs
Franks and Beans
I grew up in
Forest Hills Queens

quoth DeeDee. (Note that his rhythm and rhyme scheme is slightly better. That's how you can tell he's a professional.)

Original link courtesy of Nim, who should be ashamed of himself.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cover Songs

Speaking of Neil, I hope everyone caught Sid and Susie (Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs) on The Tonight Show this week. They did a cover of Neil's "Cinnamon Girl" off their new record, which I blogged about last week. Hoffs looks about like she did 20 years ago, but she's getting that aggressively taut and ropy look that thin women sometimes do as they age. Sweet is rather more endomorphic than I can remember seeing him before, and his scruff is gray now, but honestly, he looked and sounded fine to me. Well, no, he looked pissed off or uncomfortable or something, but as a performance, it was good.

I do confess to a bit of prejudice about cover songs generally, and that's a certain impatience with covers that don't "do" anything to the original. Just covering a great song isn't really enough, in my opinion: I need to see an interpretation, a reconsideration of the song. It's one of my biggest issues with Sweet: he's never met a cover he didn't like (the running joke around Liberal Mountain is that you're not legally allowed to make a tribute disc without including Matthew Sweet--snarky, but not wholly unfair) and his default position is a pretty straightforward recreation of the tone and feel of the original (witness for example, his version of "Karen" on Shoe Fetish--terrifyingly faithful to the original).

In that sense, his partnership with Hoffs is excellent, since she's responsible for one of my favorite reinterpretation covers of all time: The Bangles' take on Simon & Garfunkel's "Hazy Shade of Winter." (Other faves include The Lemonheads' "Mrs. Robinson," and Sonic Youth's "Superstar.") Of the four songs I've heard off Under the Covers Vol 1 so far, most are more faithful than interpretive, alas.

What are your favorite cover tunes? Is it because it's a great song, or because you like the covering or original artist?

Neil's New Record

Lotsa buzz around these days about Neil Young's new record, excoriating Bush and calling for his impeachment. I think it's pretty clear where I stand on all this, but I was particularly interested in this generational assertion from Neil:
The real surprise for Young loyalists is that it took him so long. As the veteran rocker explains it, he was finally moved to record the album, "Living With War," in a two-week burst of creativity after his patience with Generation Next ran out.

"I was waiting for someone to come along, some young singer 18 to 22 years old, to write these songs and stand up," Young said. "I waited a long time. Then, I decided that maybe the generation that has to do this is still the '60s generation. We're still here."

I'm not convinced that's wholly fair: the article notes Pearl Jam's "World Wide Suicide" and the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," but ignores the explosive effect of Green Day's American Idiot.

But none of these are exactly 18-22 year olds, obviously. Are there young artists taking on this mantle? Or is it something which can only be accomplished whn one has a certain freedon to say Fuck You to the market?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Things That Make Me Laugh Out Loud.

The Colbert Report.

In tonight's segment, Colbert was discussing the recent report that Jesus, instead of walking on water, may have been walking on an ice floe. He conferred with an expert: The Cars' Ric Ocasek, who himself walked on water in the video for "Magic." After getting Ocasek to give Jesus "the benefit of the doubt," Colbert offered him a chance to put someone of his choice on The On Notice Board.

Ocasek's choice?

Todd Rundgren.


(I'm looking for the bitchy gossip on this: all the major music mags have is that Ocasek "opted out." This story has to be out there somewhere. Help me out, people.)

Lyric Blogging: Holy War

I've spent twenty years learning to live
In a world that takes back all that it gives
But I do not want a war

'Cause I'm not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand
Feeding the promised land
With your blood by my own hand
At Allah's own command
At Allah's own command

I've spent twenty years learning to live
In a world that takes back all that it gives
But I do not want a war

I don't know what's going on
In the scenes behind
I worry about it some of the time
And I hope there's not a war
'Cause I'm not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand
And I would walk across highways
To find my fate
If that might settle your crude debate
But I do not want a war

'Cause I'm not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand
Feeding the promised land
With your blood by my own hand
At Allah's own command
At Allah's own command

I came up from the desert and here I will die
Tooth for tooth and an eye for an eye
Though I didn't want a war

I went in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand
As if there's a god who would understand

I went in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand
As if there's a god who would understand
Oh yeah...

--Matthew Sweet

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Goofy Internet Game...

Somehow, I knew this would be the answer....

You Are Jan Brady

Brainy and a little introverted, you tend to think life is a lot worse than it actually is.
And while you may think you're a little goofy looking, most people consider you to be a major babe.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Oh Sure.....

that TBogg!

He's just trying to capture my dozen of fan with his blatant slutting for the discerning power pop audience.

Isn't he?

(Great list!)

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I am speechless. As, I expect, is Nick Lowe. Posted by Picasa

Courtesy of Firedoglake, my latest must-read blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

New Matthew Sweet

I've obviously been distracted lately. Luckily, TBogg is on the power pop watch as well:
I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's release of Under the Covers, Vol. 1 where the Bangles Susanna Hoffs joins him to recreate some of the best of the sixties. I think what makes Sweet so enjoyable is his obvious fondness for a great pop song with a hook along with his superior production skills. You may not care for how he covers a song, but you have to admire the work and love that goes into it.

You can hear some of the new CD here. Warning: the music comes on immediately...not that you're at work or anything and should be, you know, working.

"And Your Bird Can Sing" is probably the perfect power pop song, in my opinion.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Kidblogging: The Easter Egg Hunt

Against the wise advice of the denizens of the Crack Den, I took the brood to an easter egg hunt on Saturday. Why would they advise against it, you ask? Because it was thirty freaking degrees and miserable, that's why. And it certainly was. (Hint: you can't pick up easter candy with mittens on.) Little SP stayed warmly wrapped, snuggled in his sling (and so pretty much invisible) the whole time, but here's the others, including the steps necessary to thaw them when it was over.

The six year old meets an Easter Bunny who's not even trying. Posted by Picasa

Did I mention that it was 30 degrees? Posted by Picasa

The teen warms up at a diner. Sometimes hot chocolate is better than cold chocolate. Posted by Picasa

More Lost Bands: The Shivvers

Courtesy of the indefatigable Kid Charlemagne, I stumble across a band I should have known, but didn't. The Shivvers were a Milwaukee band in the high era of power pop, 1978-82 (and undoubtedly fit into my complex theory of PP as midwestern minor literature).

The Shivvers. Posted by Picasa

Sure they had their roots in the `60s music, but their future was in the newborn eighties.They were more "new-wavey" than "punk" but retained from the latter a sense of urgency that could be heard in their sole single "Teen Line" released on the Fliptop indepedent label in 1980. This 7" release had favorable reviews from Greg Shaw in Bomp and Ken Barnes in New York Rocker. It was a very catchy song, kind of bubbly pop rocker akin to bands like Little Girls (of "Earthquake song" fame) or to the poppiest material of Nikki & The Corvettes. Some powerpop aficionados are not so fond of female lead vocals in powerpop (oh, really?) but the very distinctive vocals of Jill Kossoris had a kind of intonation with a bit of a sultry attitude that sounded truly great.

They had a few demos, lots of opening slots (including opening for local heroes like Shoes and Off Broadway), lots of interest, but never signed to a label. My guess: they were probably just about a year too late down the line. That's what it looks like, anyway.

It's worth asking why the power pop bubble crashed in 80-81, and how many bands got destroyed in the process: personally I think the massive political realignments of that era had a devastating effect. This source suggests increasing rigidity of radio formats: I don't see that as an opposing viewpoint. (Reagan -> deregulation -> larger and more tightly controlled media conglomerates, culminating eventually in the ClearChannel age.) Undoubtedly, there were massive shifts in the industry at that time, including the rise of MTV, and power pop got lost in the shuffle. (It can't just have been annoyance at The Knack.)

But this band has some really fun tunes (most streaming on mp3's through these various links), and I can't believe they never hit my radar before. Enjoy!

Hyped2Death has a compilation. Improbably, they don't seem to have a link at Great Lost Bands of the New Wave Era.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

PPPDA: Brian Wilson Interview

Pursuant to our discussion of the musical legacy of Brian Wilson, here's a Bomp! interview from 1976. It's, well, kind of weird, in pacing and subject matter. (The Fritos vs. potato chips debate is especially odd.)

Everyone loves Brian, but for an interviewer, he's not the easiest person to make talk. Jim Pewter is one of the few who've been able to establish a genuine rapport with Brian under interview conditions. One of the true pioneers in the field of 'oldies' broadcasting, Jim has interviewed Brian several times, going back as early as 1966.

This interview, presented here for the first time in any magazine, provides a fascinating insight into the background, musical influences and early working methods of Brian Wilson, while avoiding the kind of sensationalistic exploitation of his personal problems that most articles have dwelt too heavily on. We feel this material is a timely complement to the renewed interest in the Beach Boys that has helped make 1976 a banner year for rock & roll fans.

The illustration accopanying the original interview. Posted by Picasa

JP: Brian, let's talk about your first record; I believe that was in '62?
BW: Oh, I forgot we were doing an interview! I was looking at the picture over there.
JP: That's Groucho.
BW: Oh, hi Groucho.
JP: He's on a surfboard...
BW: I've forgotten what they look like....
JP: The first hit was "Surfin' ", back in '62. How did you decide to tie the whole surfing scene up into a song, how did that come about?
BW: My brother Dennis came home from school one day and said something about how surfing looked like it was going to become the next big craze, and we should write a song about it. You see at that time we were writing songs for friends and school assemblies. So it happened that we wrote a song about surfing due to Dennis' suggestion.
JP: I talked with you on the phone about a month ago and asked you to pick out some of your favorite hits from the past for me to bring along to the interview, and you mentioned a record by the Cadets. Was that "Stranded in the Jungle"?
BW: No, that's Kenny & the Cadets. I was Kenny and the other guys went by the name of the Cadets. This was back in '61 and at that time we were just getting going with a publisher and this guy had this great song, his name was Bruce Morgan, so my mother and I and a friend of mine did this demo... hey, this could get to be a long story!
JP: You were telling me earlier about the way you write songs. How you get down a pattern on the piano and lay down some rhythm tracks. When you went in to cut tunes like "Little Deuce Coupe", back in '63, was it all live or did you lay down a rhythm track first?
BW: Sometimes. It varied, depending on how lazy we were feeling. Like sometimes we had the music but no words. Let's use "Little Deuce Coupe" as an example. We'd do the background track for it in the chord pattern and then when we'd listen to it, we'd be listening and suddenly go Wow! I got an idea! I'm hearing these kinds of words. And all of a sudden we'd be in there writing words to that track. I mean, we'd have a feeling to work with and sometimes that was all.
JP: With the car songs like "Little Deuce Coupe" the lyrics were written by Roger Christian, and then there was a song that came out about a year later which has really become a classic: "Don't Worry Baby".
BW: Roger and I spent so many evenings sitting up. He was really kind of a guiding light for me. He'd get off at midnight, he did a night show from 9 to 12 on KRLA, then we'd go out and get a hot fudge sundae and we'd sit there for hours talking, writing lyrics and all of a sudden it was like I'd written 15 songs!
JP: Did Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" affect you in any way?
BW: "Rock Around the Clock" shocked me, I mean I was so electrified by that experience. Some of my friends came over and said I had to hear this new record, so we went out and bought it and took it home and put it on. We were screaming, that song was really it.
JP: Brian, besides writing and producing all these tunes you developed a style of singing in a falsetto that has been your trademark through the years. How did you develop that style?
BW: There was a group called the Four Freshmen. I used to listen to their records all the time. I'd come home from school and lock myself in my room and listen to this group and I practiced the high parts. I wanted to see if I could get as high as he could so I practiced until my range went up. So I trained my voice to the point where it was easy for me to hit that falsetto.
JP: What instrument were you practicing with while you were developing this style?
BW: An organ and piano, usually those two, though actually I didn't use an instrument much at that time. I'd just sit there on a chair and sing along with the high part...
JP: You wrote the lyrics to "Surfin' USA" didn't you?
BW: Chuck Berry wrote that song. It was called "Sweet Little Sixteen". When we first got going Mike was sort of a Chuck Berry fan, so we took Chuck's song and turned the lyrics into a surfing song.
JP: Do you get a shock when someone mentions "Be True to Your School"? What kind of memory does that bring back?
BW: Oh that fries my brain! I mean, that brings back some heavy memories...
JP: The lyric about the cheerleader...
BW: Now that's one lyric that I wish everyone would pass on and just listen to the music.
JP: One of the tunes you picked out as an all time favorite was one by the Crystals, a song called "Uptown." That song was produced by Phil Spector. You were an admirer of his work, weren't you?
BW: Of the works I remember; it's hard to remember them all, but that was one of my favorites, along with "Be My Baby" and most of the Ronettes songs. One of my favorite Beach Boys records is "I Can Hear Music" which was by the Ronettes originally. That was Carl singing lead on that one, as a matter of fact he produced it too.
JP: You recorded "Help Me Rhonda" in '64 didn't you? . .
BW: Yes, in the middle part of that year. That's somewhat like a Phil Spector approach and it has the harmonica part like that record "Fannie Mae."
JP: Who was playing harmonica on that, do you remember?
BW: I don't remember. I think it was some musician we hired, not one of the guys. None of us could play harmonica.
JP: Regarding your earlier sides, did you have a favorite studio that you liked to use, or did you experiment with different studios around town?
BW: We went to at least ten of the studios around town. I preferred Western Recorders at 5000 Sunset Blvd. It seemed to have the best echo chamber for what we liked to do vocally. It had good balanced echo, a really fat echo. RCA had a good studio too, and Sunset Sound was great.
JP: When was the last time you were on a Honda, Brian?
BW: Let's see, well, ah, a few years ago when I crashed my Honda.
JP: Did you have a helmet on?
BW: Yeah, I didn't get hurt real bad. I ran into a palm tree and fell off the bike. I haven't gone riding since.
JP: Where did you grow up?
BW: In Hawthorne, about three miles from the beach. It was a little town and it didn't have any sidewalks until after we grew up. It was really weird, we'd mow the lawn and the lawn would taper down into the street.
JP: You were a close family, weren't you?
BW: Yeah, I guess we were. You know my father mixed all our early surfing records, he was like our producer in fact. Yeah, that's what he was. He'd produce our records though he really didn't get credit. He'd tell us to tighten up a bit, offer us discipline, and if we didn't do it he'd get really mad. It was almost like a pep talk: "Okay you guys, you're slacking off now, tighten up a bit" and sure enough we did.
JP: When the records started getting played and becoming hits, did that change your life in any way?
BW: The guys were in high school, hadn't even graduated yet, and we were on the national chart. Now that's quite a change for a kid! So that tightened things up for our family quite a bit. We realized that we now had a chance to go places so we had to tighten up. Our first record, "Surfin' " made it, and when "Surfin' USA" made it on the national charts everybody was kind of in shock, so we tightened up our attitude and just got more serious about music.
JP: The Beach Boys Party album was really the first thing of its kind, wasn't it?
BW: Yeah, I guess it was. We just got everybody together and had some fun. We had no idea Capitol was gonna put "Barbara Ann" out as a single. We thought they were crazy! We weren't even sure it was gonna be an album. We just invited everybody over and turned on the tape machine. Did you know that was Dean Torrence singing that high part on "Barbara Ann"? Yeah that was old Dean, we invited him over and sat him down in a chair and told him to sing, and he did. And we had all these girls come by, it was pretty hectic that night. And then Capitol pulled "Barbara Ann" off the album without telling us, completely snuck that one past us.
JP: I bet that surprised you.
BW: It shocked me. It did very well, and we didn't expect that to happen. I think that was November of '65 when they released that. We had potato chips and dip and other stuff around for the atmosphere. Box guitars, a stand up bass, and drums. Whew!
JP: Brian, what kind of dip do you like, do you like onion?
BW: I love onion. French dip, that’s the best. French onion dip or bleu cheese. Do you like Fritos or that kind of stuff?
JP: I don’t like dip with Fritos as much, I’d rather have a big potato chip with onion dip on it.
BW: I love that, God, I love that…

I'm speechless. You?

(As always, I'm probably violating some sort of copyright here. I'll take the post down if it offends the copyright holders; please contact me.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

TMBG: New Song, New News

At the TMBG site.

And the return of Dial-a-Song! (well, online anyway...)
The new podcast features a brand new song called We Live In A Dump that is also currently playing on the unexpectedly resurrected Dial-A-Song. We recently scored a Record-A-Call 695 phone machine (circa 1980 somethin' and very similar to the original machines) from a friend of the band who pointed out its availability on Ebay- so a big thanks to them for the tip! Guess more often than not, these machines just get tossed these days, as they often get less than $10 at yard sales and ebay. The new machine itself is "dead mint" as the collectors say, so hopefully it will work for a long time. It does some of the odd things the sturdiest of the original one did - it runs slightly fast which make our voices sound chipmunky, and the playback heads jump momentarily on long notes thinking it might be the "message-over beep" so some songs sound a little nutso. But other than that, it's great! We should have some more songs in rotation upon our return to the East.

I'd also like to take a second to mention "Here Come the ABC's"--the six year old thinks it's a riot. If you've got nephews or nieces, it's just the thing, trust me. No Yanni in our house!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Neo-Babyblogging: Funny Face Edition

Sean Patrick had a doctor's appt today, and I took the opportunity of his being up and dressed and awake to get some shots. Enjoy!

Comical expression. Posted by Picasa

Nice tonsils! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bad 80's photoblogging

NYMary in the mid-80's. Posted by Picasa

Albums You Need: Phaseshifter

Thers rarely comments on my blog: I'm pretty sure he rarely reads it. And he almost never comments verbally on what I post or don't.

Except in this case.

Two or three times over the last year, he's asked "Why don't you ever blog about Redd Kross?"

Jeff (left) and Steve McDonald. Posted by Picasa

Well, there's no reason, really. I like Redd Kross, and I think they fit pretty comfortably into the shape Power Pop assumed during the 80's and 90's, at least as comfortably as a more obvious choice, like, say, Material Issue. Like the best PP, Redd Kross blends old and new, pop and punk, into a complex tapestry. And yet I never thought of them as such.

Why? Probably because they weren't one of "my" bands, they were one of Thers's, and the stuff he brought to the relationship occupies a different section of my brain. I realize how silly that sounds, but it's true. And they started as a hopelessly adolescent, kinda crappy punk band, not really saved by clever pop-culture-based lyrics (e.g. "Linda Blair")--but then they were adolescents at that point (Born Innocent was recorded when Steve was 14 and Jeff 16, if I'm not mistaken.) Also, Redd Kross has a certain post-modern tongue-in-cheek thing which strikes me as a bit self-conscious for power pop, if that makes sense. Irony rather than tribute. Power pop is about interpreting the old, not lifting it wholesale (The Jam notwithstanding) and the first few listens through Redd Kross, it'll drive you crazy as you insist to yourself, "I know that hook! But from where?" Indeed, I know people who've dismissed Redd Kross from their gallery of pleasures for just that reason.

That's a mistake.

So having settled on Redd Kross as a topic, we turn to the always vexing question: which one do you need? Again, I'm going to eschew the obvious choice (1987's Neurotica, recently rereleased by Five Foot Two Records) and turn to one which got a bit of airplay at the time, but has fade from sight.

The criminally out-of-print Phaseshifter.

Phaseshifter Posted by Picasa

This was my first RK album, perhaps why it occupies a special place in my heart. If you know it, you probably know "Jimmy's Fantasy," which got a fair amount of airplay on 120 Minutes in the day. But there are a number of other great tracks as well. My personal favorite is "Visionary," again, possibly because it was really the first RK song I fell head-over-heels in love with.

I could gush endlessly about almost every song on the record: "Monolith," "Huge Wonder," "Saragon," "After-School Special".... but trust me. You want this record.

Once you've fallen for Redd Kross, you can acquire Third Eye or Show World or the hard-to-find rarities collection Did Somebody Say McDonalds? (I can't even find a link for it--that's how hard it is to find), and you can thank me then.

Don't miss their star turn in Spirit of '76!
And Redd Kross has a podcast!

Genius? Or the Worst Thing Ever?

I can't decide, though I admit I'd really really like to see this.

Blondie and The New Cars with Todd Rundgren

(No, that's not a typo.)

Weirdly, I had been watching a DVR'ed episode of Super Seventies which included "Let's Go," and I was thinking about the loss of Ben Orr and the ascendancy of Ric Ocasek as a producer (and testing myself, and yes, I did still know the names of every member of the band). It ended and I flipped over to VH-1 Classics live to hear "Not Tonight," A New Cars new single. A weird experience altogether.

But maybe a fun summer night out. Anyone want to hit Jones Beach with me?