October 15th, 2011
Since Letty was born three weeks ago, I’ve been listening incessantly to Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. It’s the first album they made together and for the time being, I’m convinced it’s their best. In college, I felt the same way about Shoot Out the Lights (their break-up record). The two are mirror images. One is warts-and-all community, its narrators at once loving and implicated. Eight years later, Richard and Linda are the main story, their marriage in shambles, their partnership straining against the outside world. In its own way, each is about affirmation through irony. Lights start to blaze, lights go out; if you squint just right, a drunken 19 year-old full of self-ruin isn’t that different from a new parent. I haven’t listened to a new Sonic Youth album in a while, so if the Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore divorce means the end of an institution, I’ll be able to look back without hurting myself in the process. But I certainly feel something: disoriented, if not a little sad, devastated in a way that contains neither action nor definite consequences. It’s just odd that two people who made so much music together—even if their characters were at their strongest when they ran parallel—would dissolve this way: mute, privately, and with nothing left behind to make sense of what they meant to us. No shit, they owe us absolutely nothing; these are people, not dancing seals. Still, having spent the last couple of weeks with Bright Lights, and seeing Shoot out the Lights inevitably on its horizon, it’s hard to accept that there will be no closing document. A band, not a couple, made all those classics. That band, though, was always unusually personable, way more easy to love than they ever had any business being. Especially early on, Sonic Youth made ugly music, and yet somehow welcomed the listener. That’s always been their genius, and much like Bright Lights, it depends on finding warmth in the strangest places, and comfort in that. It’s always been near-impossible to not locate some of that in Kim and Thurston (first-namers as much out of affection as fame). “Kotton Krown”, maybe the most extreme example of SY’s winning formula, also happens to be a courtly duet between the two of them. I want to hear that turned inside out, to understand not why their marriage failed, but how art so dependent on empathy could one day wake up cold. 

Since Letty was born three weeks ago, I’ve been listening incessantly to Richard and Linda Thompson’s I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight. It’s the first album they made together and for the time being, I’m convinced it’s their best. In college, I felt the same way about Shoot Out the Lights (their break-up record). The two are mirror images. One is warts-and-all community, its narrators at once loving and implicated. Eight years later, Richard and Linda are the main story, their marriage in shambles, their partnership straining against the outside world. In its own way, each is about affirmation through irony. Lights start to blaze, lights go out; if you squint just right, a drunken 19 year-old full of self-ruin isn’t that different from a new parent. 

I haven’t listened to a new Sonic Youth album in a while, so if the Kim Gordon-Thurston Moore divorce means the end of an institution, I’ll be able to look back without hurting myself in the process. But I certainly feel something: disoriented, if not a little sad, devastated in a way that contains neither action nor definite consequences. It’s just odd that two people who made so much music together—even if their characters were at their strongest when they ran parallel—would dissolve this way: mute, privately, and with nothing left behind to make sense of what they meant to us. No shit, they owe us absolutely nothing; these are people, not dancing seals. Still, having spent the last couple of weeks with Bright Lights, and seeing Shoot out the Lights inevitably on its horizon, it’s hard to accept that there will be no closing document. A band, not a couple, made all those classics. That band, though, was always unusually personable, way more easy to love than they ever had any business being. Especially early on, Sonic Youth made ugly music, and yet somehow welcomed the listener. That’s always been their genius, and much like Bright Lights, it depends on finding warmth in the strangest places, and comfort in that. It’s always been near-impossible to not locate some of that in Kim and Thurston (first-namers as much out of affection as fame). “Kotton Krown”, maybe the most extreme example of SY’s winning formula, also happens to be a courtly duet between the two of them. I want to hear that turned inside out, to understand not why their marriage failed, but how art so dependent on empathy could one day wake up cold. 

August 10th, 2011

Here’s the way music recommendations, whether algorithmic or human, usually work: “If you like [well-known artist] you might also like [lesser-known artist].” I’m a total jerk, though, so here’s how they work sometimes for me: “If you like [lesser-known, maybe even obscure, artist”] you will also like [thing you have heard many times before by famous artist likely responsible for the other thing sounding like it does]. Or, to put it another way: Today, Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day” came on. I thought to myself, “Hey, this is kind of sweet. It sounds a lot like Clifford Coulter’s The Better Part of Me”. The Better of Part Me might be my favorite modern soul-ish record. It’s from 1980, and produced by Bill Withers. “Lovely Day” is 1977. I know it backward and forward, and for a while thought I was sick of it. Then I realized how much it owes to this later, lesser Withers production, and the sky opened up before me.

July 31st, 2011

realniggatumblr:

barre kelly introducing the dj screw exhibit that will be opening up in the university of houston’s library in 2k12

I wish you could all watch this video through the eyes of someone who has worked at the University of Houston and knows what that place is all about.

Reblogged from Tumblin' Erb
July 30th, 2011

Stooges live in a high school gym, 12/5/70. This from a Facebook album belonging to one Jim Edwards. I have no idea if I am violating him or Facebook or both but these are amazing documents.

July 30th, 2011
FLAME: So where does the anger in your music come from?
TYLER: Uh …
FLAME: Is it from issues that you have? Is it from stuff that happened to you?
TYLER: Yeah, shit like that. I get pissed at little shit. Like, Facebook deleted my profile the other day without telling me, and I was fucking angry.
FLAME: Why?
Waka Flocka Flame interviews Tyler, The Creator @ Interview Magazine.

Related: Waka Flocka Flame “Stereo Type” Lyrics.

I know we’re all supposed to be over OFWGKTA, or at least talking way less about them to make up for how much we were talking about them, but this is a good way to catch up with them.
Reblogged from Tumblin' Erb
July 30th, 2011

Happy 75th birthday, Buddy Guy, and thanks to Passion of the Weiss, for making me aware of this milestone. Everybody old is already dead and all birthdays come as reminders, nudges, not occasions. Still, I appreciate it, since I’ve always thought Buddy was miscast. Because of his association with Chess Records, and his triumphant return to the public eye in the 1990’s as a “blues legend” who influenced famous white people like Eric Clapton, Guy seems like a fossil.

Let’s stop and take notice here: 75 is hardly that old. There’s a reason Buddy Guy has outlived everyone else from that era, and has had no problem keeping up with the generation of Brit geezers who still worship at his feet. Watch the video above, with its Black Power imagery and Buddy Guy’s barely-restrained violence. Guy’s creative peak came in the 1970’s, captured on the nearly-gonzo Stone Crazy, where his vocals shriek and lurk, ordered only by their own jagged mania. His guitar, all ugly distortion and multi-directional, serrated licks, seems intent on tearing the instrument apart, not addressing the outside world. His style was exploratory, endlessly climactic. Furiously and seemingly indignant, Guy never fit Chess’s model, where passion and control, might and empathy, worked together to convey a grown-up pop product. It fit Muddy Waters to a tee; allowed Howlin’ Wolf to use his demonic voice in identifiably human ways; and gave the Chess brothers a thoroughly digestible sound for hit records.

Guy, who hailed from Louisiana, was following Guitar Slim, whose signature hits resemble post-Trane shredder Sonny Sharrock more than they do Otis Rush. And, while Chess allowed for guitarists like Hubert Sumlin to riff at will, Guy was restrained, maybe even pushed in more teen-friendly directions because of his age or ownership’s disdain for the “noise” he generated live. It wasn’t just Chess, though. His earliest sides, on Cobra, give only the faintest impression of what Buddy Guy had brewing in his head. A Man And His Blues, “an essential recording of second-generation Chicago electric blues” (some dude on Amazon), is perfectly fine, but isn’t worth a listen unless you’re really in the mood for blues music.

The best blues neither seeks converts nor epitomizes the genre; it’s universal, or completely warped, in some way that allows the listener to get past the structural and sonic formulas. As much as the blues have come to represent tradition, I’m pretty sure that the artists themselves were more interested in defining themselves than playing by the rules. The limited format, the burden of history, and all the homage and quotation, were confrontational, playful. Nods to other artists were anything but arbitrary, and brought with them all the usual problems of acknowledging influence. The three chords of the blues are powerful and hypnotic, but not intended to encourage stagnation, coasting or cliche. Contrast that with rock’s similarly foundational three-chord progression, an incantation that can channel every great song written around the same pattern. One is a dialogue, with undercurrents of irony; the other, diving headfirst into a song we’ve heard a hundred times before. Each time is different, but let’s not fool ourselves: The confidence and authority contained in those chords is absolute.

Buddy Guy, scion of Guitar Slim, displaced from the Chicago scene he was lumped in with, was the most anarchic, unruly kind of bluesman; only Albert King comes close, and King’s deceptive simplicity allowed him to join up with Stax, while Guy was perhaps even too out-there for the fans of his now-famous fans. Like Miles Davis, he ended up both affecting and being affected by Jimi Hendrix, if nothing else in coming to understand exactly how his sound could (or should) fit into the cultural landscape of the times. Miles took to the Fillmore. Buddy wandered Europe, but also ended up in videos like this one. You might say that, at least in this clip, he manages to make sense of his avant-blues, and notions of contemporary Blackness—something Hendrix himself agonized over, especially in his last years.

July 21st, 2011

My fondness for Prince Gideon, and pretty much any YAHWEH-related media, is no secret. Though maybe it should be. Whatever, the music is gorgeous, if really unsettling, and cults are always fun until they hurt the ones you love. Bonus: Here’s a non-Gideon entrant into the field, which really cuts to the lo-fi devotion quick of it all:

July 8th, 2011

Feloni, Nicki Minaj lyrics/rumors, bounce, prison.

Those are all things you won’t find in my July XXL feature on homophobia in hip-hop. If you want, blame space limitations, ignorance on my part, or things I simply didn’t feel comfortable getting into as a straight white male who barely counts as a rap fan anymore. However, the piece is also pretty specific: On the most basic level, have attitudes changed, and who will admit to it? We probably could have gotten some more queer voices in here, but a large part of this was seeing what straight people would say on the record. We all know homophobia is a problem; how is it seen by those on the other side? (PS: Dave Bry is an awesome editor.)

July 6th, 2011

The audio for "The Big O" by “Oscar Robertson and the Rim Shots”. Courtesy of getoutofmycity. I owe her, like, everything for this one.

July 6th, 2011
First saw this sleeve-less, then found an image that confirmed, indeed, this is an Oscar Robertson-related 45. I have no idea what happens on it. Do you? Is it better than Wilt’s single?

First saw this sleeve-less, then found an image that confirmed, indeed, this is an Oscar Robertson-related 45. I have no idea what happens on it. Do you? Is it better than Wilt’s single?