The Guided by Voices 100: Vol. 5


Sayeth Mr. Jovi, "Oh, we're halfway there." With this post I reach the 50% marker in my quest to narrow down my 100 favorite Guided by Voices songs. Now I'm getting to that point where I start to get paranoid that I'll either never finish the job or leave out 30 amazing songs and not realize them until it's too late.

The song tally so far, in no particular order/ranking: A Salty Salute, Everyday, Atom Eyes, How Loft I Am?, Bomb in the Beehive, I am a Scientist, Captain's Dead, Little Lines, Dust Devil, Your Name is Wild, Pantherz, Pretty Bombs, (I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries, Bulldog Skin, Choking Tara, Why Did You Land?, If We Wait, Drinker's Peace, Gold Star for Robot Boy, Downed, Things I Will Keep, Postal Blowfish, How's My Drinking?, The Tumblers, Lethargy, Game of Pricks, Lord of Overstock, Do the Earth, Ester's Day, Mother and Son, Big School, Gonna Never Have to Die, My Thoughts are a Gas, Tractor Rape Chain, When She Turns 50, Land of Danger, June Salutes You!, Smothered in Hugs, A Crick Uphill, Now to War

On with the show, boys...


"Tight Globes" from SPEAK KINDLY OF YOUR VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT: Okay, so I'm breaking my own rule tonight. I said I was not going to include solo material or songs released under other band names, but here is an absolute classic from Robert Pollard and Doug Gillard's first collaboration outside of GBV (Gillard plays all instruments on this track). This album came out around the same time as DO THE COLLAPSE and it always baffled me why they didn't put THIS record out as a Guided by Voices album. It's much, much better than the one they spent all that studio money making. "Number one is on the run."

"14 Cheerleader Cold Front" from PROPELLER: A Pollard/Sprout collaboration. I've always liked the simplicity of this one, and the image of what a 14 cheerleader coldfront might look like. I could have sworn I had read a while back that there was talk of either making a sequel to "Heathers," or at the very least, a re-make. That would be horrible, but I would hope the filmmakers would use this song on the soundtrack if it ever winds up being true.

"Dusted" from FAST JAPANESE SPIN CYCLE: I had owned the VAMPIRE ON TITUS version of this song for years, but it wasn't until I scored a used copy of the FJSC EP at a record store in Philadelphia that I discovered the version that I would come to love. The guitars on the sludgier VAMPIRE version seem to bury the melody too much. I dunno, check out both versions and pick your favorite.

"Christian Animation Torch Carriers" from UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND CYCLES: I think this one is a personal favorite because of how complex of a song it is... it keeps building in this proggy, disjointed way, until the halfway point where the power chords start kicking in. I don't know what he's talking about, but it doesn't matter. It has a big Blue Oyster Cult guitar solo and then, with a minute to go, we finally get a part you can sing along with. Where do you come up with a title like that?

"Quality of Armor" from PROPELLER: Another PROPELLER track tonight, this one acting as a the perfect song for a road trip in a classic Camaro that plays nothing but 1970s radio. From "Quality of Armor" to "Motor Away," no band can make you want to get in your car and blow town like GBV.

"Jane of the Waking Universe" from MAG EARWIG!: If a crazed murderer was holding my mom hostage and he wanted me to narrow this list down to 10 songs, I think this one would have to remain in that list. Bob tosses off so many great lyrics you'd think he was writing a hip-hop song. "And undulating always like the tide / The devil's bride is calling all toward her skirt / And in the loving folds there we will hide inside / from any would be sneak attack / Until it's safe to journey back." Great backing vocals from Tobin, too.

"The Brides Have Hit Glass" from ISOLATION DRILLS: Where do I start with this one? Sounds like a great lost R.E.M. song circa DOCUMENT NO. 5. Where Bob usually writes from a spaced out stream-of-consciousness mindset, this one is a pretty naked slice of autobiography, detailing his (at the time) rocky marriage. Cool drumming by Jim Macpherson (he played drums on that big Breeders hit "Cannonball").

"Avalanche Aminos" from the HOLD ON HOPE EP: Another song curiously left off of DO THE COLLAPSE. Really, what the hell was going on with that record? I wish you could fold time over like a mobius strip, so I could hear Thin Lizzy cover this song.

"Echos Myron" from BEE THOUSAND: So, so yummy. Has to go into that hypothetical top ten list. It has this Zombies/Byrds kind of jangly bounciness, and then there's this priceless lyric: "And we're finally here / And shit yeah, it's cool!" This is a concert favorite, as you can tell from this live version from the JELLYFISH REFLECTOR bootleg.

"Window of My World" from HALF-SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: Now THIS is what Pollard was trying to pull off with "Hold On Hope" a few years earlier: a classic, semi-sappy Cat Stevens-style ballad that tugs at the old heartstrings. For me, this one actually works really well. As one of the final songs on the final Guided by Voices albums, I can't think of a better way to close tonight's list.



"Crazy Mix 'Em Ups!"


I don't have a lot of time to write, so I figured the best thing for me to do in a time of panic is to post about a couple of artists that I don't know a goddamned thing about. I'm talking about the anonymous remixers... the mash-up artists out there who are redefining the way we think about songs, their structures and the once-unthough possibilities that can arise when we tear what we know apart and create a new curiosity with the remnants.

Take CCC (again, no idea who this person may be) and his/her work on "Making Plans for Vinyl," a song that mixes the vocals from Tweet's "Oops, Oh My!" and XTC's "Making Plans for Nigel." While I've always loved the XTC track, I can't say I've felt the same way about Tweet's song... until now. A truly great mash-up can have that effect, where a song you may have thought you hated is shown in a new light, juxtaposed against a melody or rhythym you might appreciate a little more.

One of the first mash-ups I ever heard was from a guy calling himself The Freelance Hellraiser. He had taken the vocals to Christina Aguilera's "Genie in a Bottle" and laid them over a Strokes song, giving Xtina a new sound that took her out of the insipid teen pop and reimagined her as Debbie Harry. I have a similar mash-up (which I have seen alternately titled as Gob of Light and "Ray of Gob,"), created by a gropu calling itself Go Home Productions, that combines my second-favorite Sex Pistols song, "Pretty Vacant," with the slightly sped-up vocals from Madonna's "Ray of Light." The result is an amazing new song that makes Madonna sound like a less annoying version of the singer from The Darkness. (Pistols fans, note the use of the Steve Jones "you dirty fucking rotter" sound byte at the end.)

I've collected a few dozen tracks from CCC and Go Home Productions, and it's hard for me to pick a favorite. CCC has done some unbelievable work, like "Rain Babe," a stunning combination of Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" and the Beatles' "Rain" that sounds so perfect, your brain might forget the original versions. Then you have a visionary combination like the pairing of The Jackson 5 and George Harrison on "I Want Pity". CCC slows down MJ's vocals, aging him another 4 or 5 years as he adds a dozen layers of sadness with George's mournful classic.

Go Home Productions have several classics under their belt, as well. If you can find it, hunt down their "Karma in the Life," which mixes Radiohead's "Karma Police" with the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Or, download the mutliple-artist mash-up-clusterfuck of "Wrapped Detective," which blends Lionel Ritchie, The Police, The Wailers, Elvis Costello, Peggy Lee, Led Zeppelin and more into one big hypnotic chunk of funk. If that's not your bag, try getting some Marvin Gaye with your Radiohead on "Sexual High."

Of course, if you visit a site like Get Your Bootleg On, you'll find that there are tons of others out there with some innovative ideas for song collaborations. I can't even begin to tell you who put together this mix of Elliott Smith and the Beatles, but they managed to create a new song that turns Paul McCartney into Morrissey. And then you've got the truly sublime "Crying in the Chapel", where Elvis Presley's subtle, gorgeous vocals croon over a peaceful Wailers instrumental.

It's good to know that even if everyone in the world stopped recording music tomorrow, there are still a million places we could take the music we already have.

What appears to be CCCs page
Go Home Productions' MP3 page
The Kleptones Beatles mixes
Live videos of DJ Z-Trip, including footage with Beck
A mix of Joan Jett and Queen
DJ BC's mash of The Roots and Radiohead
DJ BC's Beastles project



SLINT's return to Spiderland


Because of the neverending generosity of my friend Eric (please, spend lots of money at his store, Chicago Comics, the best comic store in the world), I scored a ticket to last night's historic SLINT concert in Chicago. Finally, almost 12 years after falling in love with this obscure Louisville, KY band that broke up before I'd ever heard of them, I had the chance to see them in concert.

Slint is one of those bands that you may have heard of because everyone is supposed to own (or everyone pretends to have heard) a copy of their classic sophomore album, SPIDERLAND. It's a fantastic record, and one of those recordings that would go on to spawn a hundred similar-sounding bands. It's heavy, like a heavy metal record, but minimalist and slow. Where a metal band would pound away on a chord as fast as possible to show how heavy they are, Slint might hit that chord once, let it ring for 10 seconds or more, and then stop playing completely while the bassist and drummer have a little conversation with each other.

It's not everyone's cup of tea, for sure. My first actual exposure to the band was when I found a copy of their debut, TWEEZ, at a used record store during my freshman year at college. I had been reading about the band and had seen them name checked in many places, but I was so not ready for that record, and it barely registered with me. Just too weird, and Steve Albini's rusty knife production style was not yet my steez. Since I was only 18 and not fully over rock, how could my mind comprehend "post-rock," where there are no choruses, no stadium rocking guitar solos, no grandstanding bullshit?

Then I heard the soundtrack to the movie KIDS, and more specifically their "Good Morning, Captain." It had a narrative, all kinds of creepy guitar work and a big, screamo ending that any ex-grunge kid could embrace. I found SPIDERLAND on vinyl that summer and saw what I had been missing. There were spoken-word lyrics, but they weren't glaringly pretentious and silly to the ears (like, say, any Jim Morrison song). There were all kinds of dark, heavy guitars, but they weren't noodly and juvenile. As for the bass playing and the drumming? I thought I was listening to a Norweigian Death Metal Coltrane album.

Download "Nosferatu Man", put your headphones on and turn it up LOUD. It's the album's "fast" song, with crunchy guitars in strange time signatures and explosive drums. Keep in mind when listening to this that some of these guys were teenagers when TWEEZ came out and were in their early 20s when this was released. Did your friend's college band sound as good as this? I doubt it. But then, your friend's high school band probably wasn't Squirrel Bait, either.

While the band broke up shortly before the release of SPIDERLAND, they released a self-titled EP (recorded between their two albums) in 1994 (which featured an awesome alternate version of "Rhoda", origially on TWEEZ)... and that was that. Slint were gone. Guitarist David Pajo would go onto other "glory," playing in influentail bands like Tortoise and not-so-influential bands like Billy Corgan's ZWAN. Drummer Brit Walford played with The Breeders and The For Carnation (joined by Slint vocalist/guitarist Brian McMahan). I don't even know if bassist Ethan Buckler has done anything since.

But last night at Chicago's Metro, they were back in full form. They even opened with "Good Morning, Captain" and played every track from SPIDERLAND. I was a little disappointed with the crowd. What kind of asshole goes to see Slint reformed after 14 years and yells shit like "Play Dude Looks Like a Lady," "Rockin' like Dokken" (yes, he got the saying wrong), or "Take off your clothes"? My friend Matt even heard a girl behind us remark, "You know, they could liven it up a little and jam or something." Clearly, you don't understand this music. At all.

While I don't have a recording of the show, I do have a couple of live SPIDERLAND tracks from this most recent Slint tour. This version of "Washer" (my favorite song on SPIDERLAND) is from a homecoming show in Louisville in February of this year, while these versions of "Breadcrumb Trail" and "Good Morning, Captain" are from a show in France on March 3rd. These tracks are pretty large ("Captain" is 12.1 MB), so if you aren't on a broadband connection... what are you doing?

Eric, I'm sorry you couldn't make it to the show. I hope this helps a little.

For more on SLINT:
Slint at Southern Records
A helpful Slint page
Info on post-rock



Do androids dream of electric sheep?


So tonight my roommate returns home from work and tells me "You got a package." Since I write the occasional music review or do the occasional CD trade with someone, I expected to see a little padded envelope. I wasn't expecting anything else, since the only online order I'd made recently was for a Hank Williams box set that arrived two days ago. Curious, I open the shoebox-sized package and find this:


Hell yes, a tin wind-up robot that walks and shoots sparks behind its faceplate! Following the web address on the box, I headed to Robot Island, a fantastic toy store that specializes in old fashioned (and reproduced) metal toys.

Who wants to take credit for this gift? If Jay, the store "owner", is reading, I can only assume that you're the anonymous reader who asked for a robot-themed post last week. If this was your doing, thanks so much for the awesome gift. How did you get my address, though? I'm confused.

Anyway, this person's (completely unexpected) generosity made me think about two things: 1) the Internet is a great thing for letting us come into contact with the kind of cool, insanely helpful people that we rarely meet in real life, and 2) I have to take an immediate opportunity to let the world know some of my other loves, in case anyone else out there has access to them... things I love like Irish whiskey, Tasty Kakes, expensive DVDs, any combination of chocolate/peanut butter, rare or unreleased albums, pornography, Omaha Steaks, the art of Paul Klee, and - last but most definitely not least - Heidi Klum, Chan Marshall and Tina Fey, together or individually.

Send along any of those items... or really anything you want... and I'm your whore. For example, more robot songs:

"Robot" by THE FUTUREHEADS: The song that I mentioned to start this all off in the first place, and the last damned Futureheads song I'm posting for a long time! Maybe.

"Attack, El Robot! Attack!" by CALEXICO: The best song title in the bunch, for sure. This instrumental is from Calexico's excellent FEAST OF WIRE album. How excellent is it? The picky pricks over at Pitchfork gave it an 8.9 rating. See them live if you get the chance. Flawless.

"Funky Robot" by RUFUS THOMAS: Bo wasn't the only funkster who knew the power of the robot. Rufus Thomas, "the crown prince of dance" took his own stab at the phenomenon. I'm not sure which one of these guys took a stab at it first, but I'm sure they both preceeded the breakdancing version of the robot. Walk tall, ye great pioneers.

"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1" by THE FLAMING LIPS: Perhaps the best selling robot-influenced concept record since Killroy? I dunno. I do know that whenever I'm at a Lips show and the crowd is singing along with an absurd lyric like "Yoshimi, they don't believe me/but you won't let those robots eat me," I get a huge smile on my face.

"My friends are toys. I make them."

UPDATE: In the "Credit Where Credit is Due" department, it was my friend Brian who sent me the secret robot. This may be the third most important gift Brian has ever given me, after the freaky talking Yoda doll and my introduction to the music of Uncle Tupelo. Thanks again, Brian.



FIONA APPLE: "Steady going nowhere..."


I have to admit... I think being crazier than a shithouse rat has finally started to have a positive effect on Fiona Apple, or at least in my perception of her as an artist. The more mature she has gotten (and I literally mean "mature," as in she has meltdowns in public on a much more sporadic basis now), the better her music has become.

I haven't been a huge fan of hers, but over the past couple of years I've started to cut her some slack. Anyone who made it through a multi-year relationship with an insane coke fiend like Paul Thomas Anderson is bound to act out. But the nuttier she gets, the better her music is for it.

Of course, the exact moment I find her artistically appealing is on the exact album (the Jon Brion-produced EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE) that her record label refuses to release. It seems Ms. Apple has her own Wilco/YANKEE HOTEL FOXTROT debacle going on, with a frightened record label unwilling to take a risk on an artist who has sold hundreds of thousands of records for them. Even in this day of downloadable media, Napster and iTunes, they won't take the risk. Why not at least make it available to fans at an online store? Test the waters and see if her fan base can handle it. You wouldn't even have to print up CD art or discs... just make the files available and the fans would have given you their dollar vote.

But come on... we know you can't let a record label make a smart decision. So fuck 'em. Here's Fiona Apple's new record. Get it while you can, because it probably won't be up for long:

1. "Not About Love" (You can almost see the faces of the label geeks as they go pale at this opening track.)
2. "Red, Red, Red" (Jon Brion is a great, great, great producer. Yeah, you heard wolf howls in there.)
3. "Get Him Back" (Sublime moment at 2:26.)
4. "Better Version of Me" (Coolest song on the record. Even if you don't like the girl, cheggit.)
5. "Oh Well"
6. "Oh, Sailor"
7. "Used to Love Him" (So... man troubles?)
8. "Window" (Nice drums and a cool vocal.)
9. "Waltz"
10. "Extraordinary Machine" (Second coolest song on this album.)
11. "Please Please Please"

For more on Apple:
Free Fiona
One of them "I'm your fan, and I'm more crazy than you" sites



Paul Rodgers: QUEEN of Douchebags


I'm doing a rare thing tonight... I'm posting some songs out of anger. Angry posting is kind of like drunk dialing. It's a moment where maybe it would have been wiser to sit down and calmy think things through, but your body just says "FUCK THAT - I'M CALLING THIS DICK, NOW!" (Yes, your body is a hotheaded redneck, just waiting to blow his top.)

Well tonight I'm posting these songs because I'm calling a few dickheads out. I recently wrote a column for a magazine called PLAYLIST, and writing that column stirred up some old feelings I've had about a couple of classic rock bands: Queen and Bad Company (and more specifically, vocalist Paul Rodgers).

Growing up as an adolescent from the late 1970s, I loved Queen. When you're six years old, you're not looking for "angular" postpunk like Television or edgy glam rock like Brian Eno. You're looking for fun, and nothing was more fun to me on the radio dial than QUEEN. My older brother had a 7" with the theme from "Flash Gordon" on one side and "Another One Bites the Dust" on the other. Back then, that was a desert island disc for me.

On the other hand, I can't think of a single moment in my life where I haven't totally loathed the music of Paul Rodgers and Bad Company. What sucks more than the insipid "Feel Like Makin' Love"? Oh yeah, almost every other song they recorded. Have you ever tried to sit through the coda of "Shooting Star"? It's unbearable... utter shit. I mean, just look at their debut album cover here. To paraphrase TRUE ROMANCE, "Oh, that's imaginative! I have more taste in my penis."

But now, because of the moneygrubbing assclowns in Queen (minus bassist John Deacon and - of course - deceased singer Freddie Mercury), Queen is now fronted by THIS guy:


And not only that, but they're going to be playing his songs too! You know, it's bad enough what Queen did to its own legacy as it petered out (in America, at least... they remained pretty huge in the rest of the world) through the late 1980s, releasing drab records for middle aged people who didn't mind getting 2 good songs per record. Now they have to taint their legacy with second rate bullshit like Rodgers' "All Right Now" (which he recorded with his first band of lunkheads, Free).

Even on its worst day, Queen could always lay claim to Freddie Mercury, without a doubt the most theatrical frontman ever to grace the rock stage and easily at the front line for the race for best rock vocalist, period.

Look, I'm asking you to forget all about all that goofy 80s shit like "I Want to Break Free" and "Radio Ga-Ga." You've got to go back to the beginning, to Queen's first album. You'll still find all the camp and pomp that you'd expect from these garish bastards, especially on a song like "Liar". You want more cowbell? There it is, right at the beginning of the song, right before the cock rock guitar breakdown. It sounds so gay and so badass at the same time.

"Doing All Right" is from the same album, and it's one of those songs whose abscence from the classic rock radio format baffles me. It starts out like a Carole King song, then we get some country-ish guitar. Mercury sings this little flitty falsetto part and the song goes jazzy for a few beats before the big Thin Lizzy solo. This is way, way better than any Bad Company song, but if you've never owned this album, there's almost no way you could have heard it.

Queen followed that self-titled debut with an even weirder record in QUEEN II (okay, so the TRUE ROMANCE comment applies to this title... whatever. Mercury makes up for this by singing in a frigging cape the rest of his career). A concept record about god-knows-what, this thing was custom made for LSD-induced listening. Sadly, I've never enjoyed it that way, so I can never truly appreciate the effect all the multi-tracking in "Father to Son" could have on my brain.

As the years went on, Queen's albums became more eclectic. One one record, you might find a rockabilly number, a Led Zeppelin-esque dinosaur rocker and a vaudeville tune all mashed up against each other. It certainly wasn't for everyone, and as I grew older, I gradually stopped listening to the band. They'd pop up occasionally, with a one-off slice of genius like their pairing with David Bowie on THE HOT ZONE's"Under Pressure", reminding me in my cynicism that rock n' roll should never be ashamed of bombast.

Sure, they're a guilty pleasure. But I don't feel half as guilty as Brian May and Paul Rodgers should feel every night they tour around cashing in on the Queen name while a heterosexual moron tries in vain to wear the crown of Freddie Mercury. Silly Paul. There can be only one.

(While I come down a little hard on Brian May in my column, I felt like I should at least post one of my favorite Queen songs that he sang rather than Freddie. I give you the folky, 70s-A.M.-radio stylee of "Long Away", from another decent Queen album, A DAY AT THE RACES.)

Queen Zone:Features .mp3s of fans covering Queen songs. I would imagine that is some hilarious shit.
Queen Online:The band's official home page
Queen World: The official international Queen fan club
Freddie Mercury, aka Farrokh Bulsara
Kween, the Japanese tribute band. Accept no substitutes.
Kween interview



AMON TOBIN's soundtrack to a mindf#$k


If any game geeks out there have played the new Splinter Cell 3 game, chances are you've heard the insanity that is the music of Amon Tobin. I've been a fan of Tobin's for years, and always imagined his music as the soundtrack to some futuristic sci-fi movie about giant space bugs or something of that nature. I personally haven't played the Tom Clancey game, but now that I've heard a few songs from Amon's score, I'm salivating at the thought.

My first introduction to Amon Tobin was all because of Napster. Remember about 4 or 5 years back, when Napster was actually amazing? You could find almost anything on there. I would go through magazines and do Napster searches on artists mentioned in reviews or interviews that piqued my curiosity. I can't remember what electronic music mag I was browsing, but it mentioned Tobin in the same breath as DJ Shadow.

I downloaded "Get Your Snack On" and within minutes my head was filled with this seemingly brand new blend of electronica, jazz and undanceable dance music. I couldn't begin to understand what kind of equipment this guy was using, where he was finding these samples, or how he was manipulating these sounds. The BPMs on this song are immeasurable, and then you get sweet little organ and horn accents. Like all good songs, this one wound up being used a year or two later in a car commercial.


I was excited when I stumbled on the soundtrack on iTunes a few weeks ago. I'm all for any sort of exposure that draws people to Tobin's music. I'm sorry, but whether you can deal with electronic music or not, you can't listen to "El Cargo" and not at least be impressed with the intricate production. If I ever got to make a solo album, I might think of having Amon Tobin create the drum sounds on that record.

While "El Cargo" does a little better job of standing on its own as a song, "Lighthouse" really makes me want to play the video game to hear it in context. Am I sneaking up on a guard and taking him out while listening to this? Am I taking a dignitary down with a sniper rifle? Hell, even if I'm just taking out the trash, I'd feel pimp as hell doing it if I had this playing behind me.

All of Amon Tobin's records are great (he has also released music under the name Cujo), but I would highly recommend starting with Permutation.

Amon Tobin's official siteNote the copy about the contest, which features the brilliant quote: "How to win: Assassinate the president of America."
Tobin downloads at Epitonic.comThat "Pick Up the Pieces of Saturn" track is SICK SICK SICK.
His AllMusic bio
Tobin on the Ninja Tune site
A Q&A about the game soundtrack



You want robots? I give you robots.


An anonymous reader mentioned the possibilty of a robot-themed post tonight, and I'll be damned if I'm going to walk away from a challenge, no matter how casually tossed out it may be!

The truth is, I love robots. Not as much as I love zombies, but robots are up there. The functional possibilities of a robot are fun to entertain, but what I really love about them are the designs. If you're ever fresh out of gift ideas for me, any sort of old robot toy will please me to no end. Those really busted up old tin robot toys that wind up and walk or shoot sparks? Fuggin' sweet.

A lot of song ideas crossed my mind when coming up with this post. Of course, there's the horrid "Mr. Roboto" by Styx, which I have in my iTunes library to help remind me of how wrong things can go in music. I could have thrown out the theme song to "Small Wonder" as well, but that Vicky always creeped me out. Not as much as the son on that show, but creepy. But I can't do that to you. So here are a few more obscure robo-tunes:


"Tropical Robots" by GUIDED BY VOICES: Just one of many Pollard songs referencing robots. This one is too short to really be about anything. That's why I've got a back-up GBV track: a live version of "Gold Star for Robot Boy" from the "Jellyfish Reflector" bootleg. Did I already include the album version of this in my GBV 40? I'll have to check... the next 10 should be popping up around here in the next week.

"Show Me How the Robots Dance" by LULLABY FOR THE WORKING CLASS: I have to rep Nebraska once again, this time with a band that Cursive's Ted Stevens assembled amidst what seemed to be Cursive's demise. (Ted was also in a band called Polecat with a high school chum of mine named Boz Hicks. If anyone can snag me an .mp3 of their 7", "Chinese Water Torture," I would love you forever.) Again, this isn't exactly robot metaphor material on par with that Styx jam... but maybe we're better off for that.

"March of the Ciccone Robots" by CICCONE YOUTH: What's a robot medley without a totally creepy instrumental? And who can make a creepy instrumental better than the aural maniacs in Sonic Youth? Ciccone Youth was a side project the band created as a tribute to Madonna, and "The Whitey Album" is the freaky result. Check out AllMusic.com's review of it, which echoes a lot of my own sentiments.

"Do the Robot" by BO DIDDLEY: I wouldn't have found this ridiculous slice of robo-funk without the help of Bubblegum Machine, a blog I visit on a monthly basis. I'm not even sure he gives actual dance steps in the lyrics of the song, but Bo apparently knows his 'bots. I wonder what the guys in his band were thinking when they started introducing this into the set. "Hold up, brother. Are we trying to get down and dirty... about being robots?" That's okay boys. In Bo's future, all robots will rock Brillo afros that look like Roberta Flack's on the cover of "Quiet Fire."

"Robot Snares Got No Cadence or Balance" by PREFUSE 73: Another instrumental (from the album, "Extinguished: Outtakes"), but this one is much more soothing than the Sonic Youth contribution. You know what... go smoke something, put this song on a loop and go watch this clip of Transformers breakdancing.

Go robo.





Have you checked out the mp3 of THE FUTUREHEADS' "Meantime" yet? Did that get you to buy their self-titled album? If not, I'm going all out tonight. To paraphrase Micheal Biehn in "The Terminator": I absolutely will not stop. Until. You. Are. Dead. It's 15 songs in under 36 minutes, tossing off influences (Gang of Four, The Kinks, The Jam and XTC) like sweat from their pasty brows.

Here is their Allmusic.com bio. It looks like almost every damned site on the web has posted this bio, so you might as well get it from the source. I can't pretend I found them myself. Two of my friends on the east coast reported back to me about a concert they'd seen in Philadelphia. Since I truly trust one of the guy's taste in music (sorry James), I clicked over to the iTunes music store and started checking out the Futureheads.


The first song I downloaded was "Hounds of Love", a cover of a Kate Bush song. I always had a little crush on Kate when I was growing up, but I never really got into any of her albums. She gets my respect though. I've always liked "This Woman's Work," and admired Maxwell for covering it on his Unplugged special a few years back. His version is insanely good.

Anyway, I had probably listened to about 1 minute of the Bush cover when I decided to pony up and buy the whole album. Anything that kicks off with a song as good as "Le Garage" is bound to be an enjoyable ride. If you just want to buy a few songs and check them out a little further, try "Decent Days and Nights," "Trying Not to Think About Time" and "Robot." Fun stuff... but I insist you play it really loud. Listening to these guys at a low volume is like watching a fullscreen DVD.

I always like to throw in the occasional obscurity or b-side, so here's a wacky alternate version of The Streets' "Fit But You Know It" that features The Futureheads as emcee Mike Skinner's backing band. And while I'm throwing all this UK love around, why not throw in what I think was one of the best hip-hop singles of the past half decade, The Streets' "Dry Your Eyes."

The Futureheads official web crib
Always on the Run, a Kate Bush page
The Streets site





Everything is back in working order now. The downloads should be live again, so rip away, fellow readers, until the next Great Crash comes.

I was looking over some of the stats from my host site and was pleased to see that people have downloaded around 4,000 songs from me in the past 2 months. I even had 14 downloads in Iran. IRAN! Seriously, if anyone from Iran is reading this, post in the comments section. I once sold a Quicksand CD to a girl in Bosnia, through Ebay. I still think about that CD and wonder what that girl thought of the music.

In honor of the "It's a Small World"-ness of the blog universe, I'm going to dish out a little old school American garage rock for the kiddies in all korners of the globe. All of this stuff comes from the fantastic NUGGETS: ORIGINAL ARTYFACTS FROM THE FIRST PSYCHEDELIC ERA 1965-1968 box set. Much love to my roommates for buying that thang for me.

LOVE "7 and 7 IS": I love Love. You saw me... I just posted about the damned guys a day ago and now I'm back on them again. They're just plain bad ass, and "7 and 7 Is" is a prime example why. Boom bip bip, boom bip bip YEAH! If memory serves me correctly, Wes Anderson uses this song in "Bottle Rocket," during the movie's early house robbery, along with Love's masterpiece, "Alone Again Or."


THE SONICS "Strychnine": The Pacific Northwest's answer to the "Hey, WE invented punk rock" argument, The Sonics were grunge decades before that shit got chewed up and spat out in a JC Penny's catalogue. Before the Strokes, before the Stripes -- there was The Sonics.

THE DEL-VETTS "Last Time Around": The first time I ever heard a rendition of this song, it was from a Son Volt bootleg. I thought it was some long lost Stooges cover, but I found out years later it was actually a cover of the Del-Vetts, a Chicago garage rock band that got its start in the early 1960s. "Last Time Around" was pretty much their only big hit, breaking the Top 30 in the US. Rumor has it that lead singer/guitarist Jim Lauer spent much of his post 'Vetts career in mental institutions. A damned tragedy.

A massive Sonics fan page
The Sonics at Historyofrock.com
A Del-Vetts bio
A Love fan page
Buy the Nuggets box set (Volume 1 or 2). You can't lose.



Ryan Adams and Gillian Welch

I just got this track from a guy named Marty on an email listserv I've been involved with for several years now. This group maintains a pretty scorching hatred for alt.country disaster area Ryan Adams. While it seems like Ryan has always had an embarassingly loud mouth, his solo career and the little critical attention he received a couple of years back for his "New York" single/GOLD album haven't helped things.

He's kind of like Conor Oberst if Oberst had the audacity to believe all the things he reads about himself in the press. Like Oberst, he's prolific to the point that it's a fault. Every once in a while, he hits one out of the park. Ryan Adams' cover of Gillian Welch's "Time (The Revelator)" is one of those home runs. As far as I can tell, this was a demo from his sessions for his debut solo album, HEARTBREAKER. Welch even guests on backing vocals here, and I assume that's Welch partner David Rawlins on guitar.

RYAN ADAMS and GILLIAN WELCH: "Time (The Revelator"

Anyone get...

the copy from that "Rakim Shakespeare" post in an aggregator?

I done lost it again.

Here are the links, for now:


XTC "Scissor Man"

J-LIVE "Epilogue"

IKE AND TINA TURNER "Cussin' Cryin' and Carryin' On"

LOVE "Everybody's Gotta Live"


In like a lion...


My roommate has been sick for about a week now, trapped in bed nursing God-knows-what kind of sickness. I hear lots of coughing, some moaning and a lot of PBS.

So, with him trapped in bed (and our TV therefore trapped in the room with him) I'm starting to get cabin fever. It certainly does not help that I have no money right now, so leaving the house is a fincancial decision I can't even afford to make at this point. I already spent what money I did have by forcing myself to leave the house this weekend and see "A Clockwork Orange" and "Paths of Glory" at The Music Box. With no more Kubrick classics or fun money at my disposal, I'm left with one thing to keep my attention:

Hard fucking rock. They say March comes in like a lion, and from the sound of my friend's lungs, they're right. Here's a little hard rock to silence the beast in your lung:

"Inertiatic (demo)" by THE MARS VOLTA: The new Mars Volta record (FRANCES THE MUTE) was finally released today, and I'm saving up some of that movie cash for my own copy eventually. For now, I'm dishing out a couple of demos from the band. "Inertiatic" was -- in different form -- on their debut album, while "A Plague Upon Your Hissing (demo)" was not. Never heard the Mars Volta? Take Yes and mix it with early Santana and some Fugazi, and there you go.

"Brendan #1" by FUGAZI: Since I already mentioned them, here's some classic instrumental Fugazi for you. "Brendan #1" is an instrumental from their second album, REPEATER. This is one of the greatest rock record of all time, and if you don't own it, I cannot stress to you more how much you need to get out and buy this thing immediately. I picked it up as a Freshman in high school and it changed my life and my musical habits forever. Never heard these guys? Here, check out "Arpeggiator" from the outstanding END HITS album, along with a demo version from the soundtrack to their awesome INSTRUMENT DVD.

Fugazi's page of official live recordings
The Dischord home page
The Mars Volta home page
The Comatorium, a MV fan page