Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Say goodbye to The Monkees - 1966-1987

I LOVED The Monkees.  Nickelodeon re-aired the series in 1986, exposing me and the rest of my generation to the silly antics and slapstick comedy of Mike, Peter, Micky and Davy.  Oh, and their music.  Those catchy, light-hearted, whimsical, innocent songs.  The show's theme alone is sweet enough to give you a toothache.  To me, their music reminds me of two things: sitting cross-legged on the carpet, inches away from the television... and doing my laundry.

Why does it remind me of laundry day?  Because EVERY freaking time I go to the laundromat on Lincoln and Ocean Park either Day Dream Believer, I'm a Believer or Last Train to Clarksville (Believer?) plays on the radio.  It's like I'm stuck in some weird Groundhog Day loop that will only come to an end when my wife and I finally buy our own washer/dryer unit.

The owner and operator of the laundromat apparently feels separating colors from whites is most enjoyable when listening to sounds of the 60's.  I couldn't disagree more.  Which is why I always bring my iPod to help pass the time.  Unfortunately, the voices of Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork and Jones penetrate even the loudest (post 1991) NOFX.

So... The Monkees are gone.  (With the exception of their 1996 release "Justus" which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the group and features the return of Michael Nesmith*.)  Or are they?  I'm not suggesting we eliminate the series.  Or their movie "Head."  And as a result, music featured in these productions are permitted to stay.  But only in this form, no soundtracks on CD or cassette are permissible.   

As I write this post, I am informed that Davy Jones has announced the following:  Monkees 2011  With my luck they'll be playing the Blockbuster Video next door to my laundromat.

*As a kid, Mike was always my favorite and even now I'm usually drawn to the straight guy in comedies.  And even though I respect his attempt to "fight the machine" by insisting on playing and writing their own music, I can't help but think he's a bit of a douche.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Listen to Maps and Atlases - Perch Patchwork

Time to introduce some new music to the mix.  I was thinking about a new band I recently discovered called Man at Arms whose record I picked up at random in the Amoeba dollar bin about three months ago.  These guys are loud, raw and unpredictable with lyrics about time travel and primordial swamps.  It's pretty sweet.

Sticking with my rule of NOT including previously found music on this site, I decided to use them as a starting point.  I went to their record label's (Joyful Noise Recordings) website to check out what other bands they had to offer.  I started browsing the catalog of bands and came across this album by Maps & Atlases. 

After a little more research, it turns out they're actually on a new label, Barsuk Records.  I know Barsuk well due to the fact they've also signed one of my all time favorite bands, Menomena.*  Maps & Atlases have most (if not all) of this album available to listen to on their Myspace Page.  Check 'em out.  They're even currently on tour (opening up for Menomena, in fact) spending February in the Midwest and most of March down south in Louisiana and Texas. 

I realize record labels don't always stick to one type of band, but in this case I'm not surprised to learn that Maps & Atlases are no longer on Joyful Noise Recordings.  They sound nothing like Man at Arms.  Maps is cleaner and would fit comfortably in most silverlake hipsters' record collections.

*I picked up Menomena's Friend and Foe record at random (at full price, too) in Amoeba a long time ago.  That same day I bought The Long Winters album When I Pretend to Fall which is also a  fantastic album.  It wasn't until later that I realized The Long Winters is ALSO on Barsuk Records.

Friday, February 18, 2011

So long, Depeche Mode - Violator

Released in North America March19, 1990
This should piss some people off, for sure.  Including several of my relatives.

In March of last year I was watching TV and caught the end of a commercial where a dude was doing the robot* to some electronically-synthesized 80's song we've all heard a million times before.  It was at this moment that I had an awakening.  My eyes had been opened.  I was completely over the 80's.  The entire decade. Finito.  Over the stupid clothing, over the stupid haircuts, over the same old jokes about the stupid clothing and stupid haircuts.  I'm just over it.  1980 was THIRTY years ago!  It's been so long, even 80's themed parties are tired.  Let's.  Move.  On.**
Its funny, for me, the quintessential record of the 80's is Depeche Mode's Violator.  A record that, until today, I never realized was actually released in the 90's.  I can kind of remember the video for Personal Jesus.  I think the band was walking around inside a large empty building.  I'm pretty sure there was a staircase.  And was it in black and white?  I think so.  ATW, the album sold fifteen million copies, and reached number 17 on the Billboard year-end chart.  Policy of Truth and Enjoy the Silence were always two of my favorites, and the one time I actually participated in karaoke, I sang "Personal Jesus."***

Being born in 1979 and not really paying much attention to music before the age of 9 or 10, I sort of missed the boat on the majority of popular music in the 80's.  It was around, I heard it, but I paid little attention to it.  And this raises an interesting question.  To whom does the music of the 80's really speak?

I suppose it would most likely be the people who were in high school during this decade.  If we accept this as truth, then we're looking at people born between 1965 and 1975.  People between the ages of 36 and 46.  I'm sorry, but if you're 40 years old and you're still rocking out to Whitesnake, Foreigner, LL Cool J or Madonna, then you have issues.  I turn 32 in a month.  I am not the same person I was in high school.  I acknowledge that person, he existed, but I've got newer interests, different dreams and maybe even some conflicting beliefs. 

*It makes my skin crawl when I see actors on TV (specifically commercials) who are "dancing ironically" and break out the cabbage patch.  There are so many different ways to dance stupidly.  We get it, it's the cabbage patch.  Hilarious.  The robot is dangerously close to having the same effect on me.

**Even though I find the decade as a whole exhausting, I'm STRICTLY limiting my proposed restrictions to music.   

***I get angry with people who karaoke but only have one song.  It's something that isn't always detectable... unless it's your good friend... who will only sing Bob Dylan's 4th Street... I'm looking at you, Jay Blasco. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Say hello to The Snake Brothers - The Snake Brothers at Union Hall

I've got a lot of ideas for this blog but not all of them involve eliminating music.  This experiment is about the turnover of music.  Out with the old, in with the new.  So, periodically, I plan to blog about new music that I find through internet searches, record store dollar-bins, independent radio stations, etc.

Finding new music is something I've always enjoyed doing, but because I want to set some ground rules for this blog, I will only blog about music I discover from this day forward.  I don't want this to turn into a "look at all the cool bands I know that you don't" kind of thing.  I want this to be a "Check out this band I JUST discovered today" sort of thing.  I'll do my best to include all genres and pass as little judgment as possible.  These posts will serve solely as a way for us all to check out music that's being created today*

Okay, so today's record is called The Snake Brothers at Union Hall.  I stumbled upon it in a roundabout way by picking a city at random (picatollo, Idaho) then googling it in search for a local band.  The first one I found was a Metal Hairband called Snake Bones.  They had a pretty creepy (and extremely literal) album cover but as I looked further I had difficulty tracking down any actual audio files.  While doing a deeper search, I came across (a completely unrelated band) The Snake Brothers and their 1998 album South Jersey Waltz.  I listened to a couple of their songs on CD.baby and discovered they're a folky-bluegrass band from New Jersey made up of five dudes in their... 50's and 60's?  They've been playing music since the mid-70's taking a couple decades off between records.  Union Hall was released in 2007.

These guys have a pretty clean website with an easy-to-operate audio player at the top of the page.  I highly recommend checking them out here:  The Snake Brothers    Hit play and minimize the window and add a cheery, folky soundtrack to whatever you're doing today.  Then, if you like it, buy one of their songs!

*Post 1991, but hopefully closer to 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It's been real, Camper Van Beethoven - Key Lime Pie

Released in September of 1989 on Virgin Records
Now let me tell you, this one hurts, but it's day two and it's time to turn up the heat.  It's easy to poke fun at albums like yesterday's A.B.C. release, but the fact of the matter is I'm taking this experiment very seriously.  And if I don't include (exclude?) ALL pre-1991 music then there's just no point in doing this.  (and there IS a point!)

Camper Van Beethoven's Key Lime Pie was one of the cassette tapes my sister passed down to me when we were kids.  I don't know where she first discovered them or when she bought the tape, or even when she gave it to me, but I remember it being in my collection for a very long time.  For a while it just sat there, getting played maybe once every few months.  Eventually, however, the music and lyrics of David Lowery* and co. began to resonate making this one of my all-time favorite records.  Songs "When I Win the Lottery" and "Come on Darkness" are two of my favorites though the whole album is fantastic. 

You might ask why, if music like this reminds me of my childhood, would I want to get rid of it?  Why would I willingly abandon links to my past?  I mean, let's face it, I was 12 years old in 1991.  It was a pivotal time for me.  I was just beginning to explore the world of recorded music, and over the next few years, it would be this music that would shape who I'd eventually become.  That's why I'm doing this.  Because I'm still alive and I don't want to stop evolving.  I want to find new music, new bands.  I want to see more shows and make new memories. 

I look around and see people everywhere listening to classic rock stations.  In public, I'm exposed to "new rock" radio stations whose content consists primarily of music from the 90's.  I peek through people's iTunes catalogs when I'm on a public internet server and see the same titles over and over and over again.**   It's no secret that mainstream radio is a joke, and making fun of MTV for not playing music got tiresome fifteen years ago.  Things have to change.  So I'm doing something about it.  And even though I know it will have ZERO effect on anything or anyone else, I'm going through with it.  Deal with it.

*Years later I would pick up Cracker's Kerosene Hat completely unaware that it was another Lowery project.  

**I have a theory that everyone with a shared iTunes account has at LEAST one song by the band Air. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Say goodbye to: Another Bad Creation - Coolin' at the Playground Ya Know!

Released Feb. 11th 1991
Well, we're starting off with an easy one, folks.  I remember very little about this group/album except for the fact that they were referenced, along with Bell Biv DeVoe, on the Boys II Men album Cooleyhighharmony*.

I feel pretty confident in saying that aside from (or maybe including) the six people on the cover, nobody needs to hear these songs again. 

In addition, it should be said that if for some reason I find myself in the mood for these prepubescent hip hop has-beens, I've still got two years left to purchase, borrow or illegally download their 1993 follow-up "It Aint What You Wear, It's How You Play It."  Ya know?

*Boys II Men's Cooleyhighharmony was the first cassette tape I ever owned.   Released on Feb 14th 1991, it too has expired.