Monday, December 5, 2016

New shit I like

It's worth mentioning since last Friday I did the radio show entirely off the new shelf, that there is new music coming out that I enjoy. Here's a link to the playlist.

Cellular Chaos deserves your attention. Now on their second LP/CD, Diamond Teeth Clenched, this group of people has been bringing the noise for a few years now. WCBN did a live show roughly about as long ago as the last time I posted to this blog (LOL), in September of 2014. If anyone had any energy here we'd have already done another show with them.

Let's talk about Musk while we're here. Gerard is doing great down in Austin with the label 12XU, putting out record after record of fantastic loud rock and roll. Matt Korvette from Pissed Jeans reviewed another 12XU on his blog the same month as this record and this line here says what we were all thinking: "It’s a little strange, living in this modern world where rock n’ roll is almost exclusively the domain of adults, but I think I can learn to accept it." Musk's second record The Second Skumming is a gorgeous record for adults only.

The Useless Eaters have a new record out which I also enjoy. In the past I’ve said they were like an early 1990s punk band, a la New Bomb Turks, and people also like to compare their sound with The Fall. While the new album retains some of those Fall-esque qualities, it is definitely a departure from the rawer early 90s punk rock sound. That’s great, bands shouldn’t always have to sound exactly the same! This is a great new Six Finger Satellite record! Of course, a lot of Six Finger Satellite was really channeling Duty Now for the Future era DEVO (but with MOOGs on wah-wah pedals) so this is kind of a new old DEVO record by proxy!

I'll mention one more in this post. A couple months ago we got Kitten Forever's "7 Hearts". It's the total opposite of the tinny, high-pitched Ty Segall sound that is currently hot in ‘punk.’ Kitten Forever is drums, bass and vocals. The bass is huge. The drums are thick. The vocals are female, similar to Karen O if I had to make a comparison to anyone, distorted as hell, and punk AF. I'm full of gratitude that people are still making records that sound like this today.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I don't have time for this

It's hard to maintain a decent blog when the order of the day is no longer post writing, it is status updates, tweets, and barely-verbal communications like memes and snapchats.

Was it ever really post-writing anyway? The blog basically took the place of the group email, which took the place of the group letter, that thing you sent out once a year to all your friends and family letting them know you got a new dog and the baby is six feet tall now.

Then you also have to consider the overwhelming noise of everyone else's status updates, point and counter point pieces that affirm your already-established opinion about a thing, no doubt heightening the polarization that exists between adherers to different ideologies of all kinds on the internet.

On top of that place the depressing state of the world and the country currently. I can't say 2016 has been the "worst year ever"- that would be 2014, the year I lost my cat Sugarchile- but as far as the nation and the growing list of dead celebrities is concerned it pretty much is.

What electing Donaldt Rump says about our current climate as a nation is being vigorously unpacked on other, more articulate sites, but for me right here I'll tell you it certainly doesn't increase my desire to write a blog. I have said more than once that I should get back to journaling more though.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Unpublished post from February 2016

O hai! It's time again for my semi-annual update to the blahg, not that anyone reads any more. Plus with all the outrages going on - the city of Flint poisoned by the government of Michigan, a methane plume poisoning the air and warming the climate in California, David Bowie dying - who even cares enough to look at a blog. Honestly I'm not sure why I'm bothering to post. You're all either curled up in a fetal position suffering from compassion fatigue or you're numb to everything, preferring to spend your days keeping tabs on your high school classmates on fcebook and posting pictures of your cats.

By the way, here are some things I think are totally stupes:
  • cake pops
  • cupcakes
You think these are cute ways to have your cake and eat it too? LOLOLOLOL I amuse myself. Anyway you'll just eat like 45 of them. Just suck it up and make/buy a proper cake and eat it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

I hate music!

Just kidding! I pretty much hate maintaining a blog. Who does that any more?

It is not that we are all too busy, it is that we are all totally preoccupied with electronics and social media so we think we're too busy for anything else. If I were a wacky conspiracy theorist I'd think it was all part of a plot to keep us placated so we don't notice all the outrageous shit going on around us. That's nothing new though. We're awfully fickle if you think of it that way I guess- religion, sex and TV aren't enough to keep us doped any more, so now we need fakebook, yootoob and listicles.

So anyway here's some shit I really dig right now:

  • Ice-T's "Final Level" podcast
  • METZ - boy, were they hot last Saturday night (4/18) at The Loving Touch in Ferndale, Michigan, which is incidentally possibly the best venue I've ever seen noisy, screamy live bands shred your eardrums while still sounding really good. Props to the people who set up the sound system, the acoustics, and the people who do the sound engineering there
  • Some of the stuff Thrill Jockey has been putting out recently, like Oozing Wound. Especially Oozing Wound. The new Lightning Bolt is pretty rad, too.
  • The new Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. They still got it, baby. Playing this week (4/22) along with Bloodshot BILL!!!! AND Danny & the Darleans!!!!!!! At the Blind Pig, in Ann Arbor

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lawrence of Arabia

June 4 marked the 25th anniversary of China's violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, and sure enough pictures appeared all over people's fakebook pages to remind us if we did not remember. It reminded me that 25 years ago I had a job at the Charles Cinema in Boston, where I worked with a spicy mix of local high school and college kids. Two of my co-workers were Vietnamese from Brighton High who hooted and snorted when they heard about Chinese people being killed. It was still many years before I would go live in Vietnam and realize the deep animosity the Vietnamese have for China, but this naively unexpected response was an excellent introduction.

By the way, did you know that less than one year prior to the Tiananmen Square massacre, as it is called, government suppression of demonstrators in Burma resulted in the deaths of an estimated 3,000 people? That government is also still in power.

Anyway, the movie theater where I worked in 1989. These are the only pictures (taken from a blog called ghostlife) I could find on the entire internet, and they don't do it justice, but there you go. I didn't have a camera of my own until a year later and at the time I never wanted to photograph this sticky, stinky, neglected theater where I got paid $5/hr to loaf around.

On March 17, 1989, the 70mm 6-track dolby restored print of "Lawrence of Arabia" opened at the Charles. We were the only theater in the northeast to be showing it, as I recall, although it's hard to imagine it not showing in New York. It sold out every weekend for three months, with moviegoers coming from as far away as Montreal (an 8-hour drive) to see it. Yes, I'm sure they bought tickets in advance, but I don't remember how. I worked the concession stand mostly, or cleaned up the spilled popcorn and cups in between shows.

Everything about this film was epic (a word that is tattered and overused these days): the all-star early 1960s cast, the massive battle scenes with hundreds of extras, the larger-than-life Panavision cinematography, but most of all, the score. Maurice Jarre's overture begins long before the film itself, signaling the audience that it is time to stop lingering in the lobby and go find their seats. If you only see this film on video, you are missing its tremendous grandeur, but if you have a shitty sound system that fails to convey the soundtrack as it was intended, you just shouldn't bother at all.

A result of working nights at the Charles during Lawrence of Arabia's three or four-month total run is that even now, anytime I hear the music I see the movie in my head. When you work at a movie theater, you have a fair amount of time to peek in- officially, to keep a benevolent eye on your audience- and watch parts of the show, so I would do this whenever I got the chance. The first scene of Lawrence of Arabia I ever saw is the one I watched the most.

Even if you don't know the scenes leading up to this, you can't help but find it thrilling. It is the music which elevates this scene from being pretty cool to stupendous.

The leadup is essentially this: English officer Lawrence has assembled a group of bedouin guerrillas to attack the Turks at the port of Aqaba, but the tactics involve crossing one of the worst deserts on the Arabian peninsula, the Nefud. The bedouins with Lawrence know how dangerous this is and call him crazy; with the kind of naive arrogance you'd expect from a colonialist, Lawrence insists that crossing the Nefud is possible and convinces the group to follow him.

With amazing luck, they succeed by crossing at night, but at dawn they realize one man is missing. Lawrence insists on going back for him under the blazing sun even as the rest of the men tell him he will die trying, and this will be the end of his little war. But he proves them wrong here too, and the scene shows him meeting one of his servants, who has been waiting for him, as he emerges from the desert with the man, Gasim, who is still alive.

Next post: some more babbling about Bobby Kennedy's assassination and the book Slaughterhouse Five, or more likely, me bitching about how cold it is since I only post like every six months these days. It's warm now. It's June.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

JAKS - Hollywood Blood Capsules

There's very little information on Ann Arbor's 1990s "math-rock" band JAKS, and that's a big fat shame. I don't know a lot about them besides that their name was the first initials of each member's first name

Read this blog from 2011.

We have a CD at the radio station that collects much of Jaks' recorded output. It is called Hollywood Blood Capsules.

Wicked high quality no really 320 limited time only.
1. Dumbwaiter
2. Black Paper
3. Cock of the Walk
4. The Conversation Lags
5. Mudd
6. Chimneys
7. Spider
8. Pismire
9. Merrily the Gore
10. Master P
11. Shake

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Amendment: THE GRIND is still on the radio IN KALAMAZOO!

Remember how we said we were bringing back the Grind? No you don't.

Anyway, our old friend, the show's creator, got on the faeboob and said this:

"So... not to split hairs... but The Grind has never stopped being a show. It went on a brief hiatus after I left WCBN and the other DJs stopped doing it. I picked it back up a few years back and it lives on as a weekly program on WIDR fm in Kalamazoo and Core of Destruction Radio streaming worldwide.

Super excited to have the metal show live on at WCBN but please consider calling the show something else as The Grind is not dead!!!"

So never mind!

The show will be called THE SEIZURE EXPERIMENT.

Boy have we had a lot of fun on the WCBN internal listserv discussing this name change AFTER the name had already been changed.


The Seizure Experiment has a dumblr so do not come here looking for archives.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Several events converged to result in the return of THE GRIND to WCBN.

The late-night DJ who followed the one-hour metal show "Odin's Dance Party" vanished in mid-December, necessitating either his replacement or the extension of the one-hour metal slot to three. It was too late to bother adding a new DJ- the schedule change was only a couple weeks away- so we opted for a longer metal show.

Brandok and I covered the first of these three-hour bonanzas and had ourselves a ball. I then polled WCBN staff to see if there was enough DJ interest in doing three-hour metal shows for a whole semester. There was, with the added comments that some of them also wanted to play punk, hardcore, and other loud music. Some of them referenced a long-gone show called THE GRIND, which was such a show. So without further ado...

I recently sent the following announcement to the staff of WCBN:

Poll results indicate that a 3-hour metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show would be warmly received and hosted by enough of you for me to go ahead and make it so.

Some of you may remember a show called "The Grind" which aired Friday nights 10pm-midnight. It started as a metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show that eventually morphed into pretty straight gore-death metal type stuff (just search the old playlists and you'll see.)

So, the Odin's Dance Party name will be retired and we'll be resurrecting THE GRIND.

How you interpret what a metal/thrash/hardcore/noise show would sound like is pretty much up to you; if you're interested in joining a rotation for this show (which will most likely be midnight-3am on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings) please check off Odin's Dance Party on your slotpref.

If you have already turned in your slotpref, email me and Brandok saying you want to join the rotation.

So I'm delighted to announce to you, our listener and sole reader of my blog, that THE GRIND is back and will air Saturday nights midnight-3am with multiple rotating and possibly tag-teaming hosts.

You are so welcome.


Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014! Sex us up, new year.

I could make a best of 2013 list but I don't bother, no I don't bother. I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I--I-I-I-I--I-I-I-I-IYIYIYIYIYIYIYIYII don't bother! Name that tune.

Handily, though, I started dating almost everything I played in the WCBN playlist back in February, so you can at least see ALL the 2013 releases I played on the show from February on. It's magical. Just click on the magical link. You know, if it ever loads.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sodom & Gomorrah

Last Friday's set included a transition (segue, AKA, for those in the industry or who just like using the technical term) that won radio for the day. Maybe even the week.

It was proudly brought to you by COLLEGE RADIO. Nowhere else on the FM dial will you still hear creations such as this. Serendipity was a hefty contributor, as both the disks involved actually fell off the shelves on one or another of our heads so that they could be played.

I'm talking about Diabolic's "Vengeance Ascending" followed by Beth Severe's "Sodom & Gomorrah." You can link to the playlist, and you can listen to the archive.

Friday, November 22, 2013

"Progressive metal" on Tight Pants

Last week A few weeks ago I felt a little sick so enjoyed a very self-indulgent afternoon of mostly 1990s sludgy noise. Selections included Skullflower, Steelpole Bathtub, Union Carbide Productions, Ed Hall and Slughog, to name a few. About halfway through the show I got a call from a listener who professed to be in his early 60s, tuning in online from Florida, and splitting his radio time between us and the Bridgeport CT station WPKN. He did ramble and I had to kick him off the phone but before he went away, he praised me for playing all the progressive metal and mentioned a couple of bands I immediately forgot.

Progressive metal? Is that what they're calling it now? But wait, this guy said he was in his 60s. How could he have made it this far and not know what 'noise' was in the 1990s? Maybe he was busy raising post-punk-era asshole kids like me.

So here are some of my very favorite, uh, "progressive metal" bands and songs. For you.

And speaking of TAD, this quiz circulated the cool corners of the interwebs this week a couple weeks ago- I got it from Mudhoney's facebook- and the results seemed overwhelmingly tipped towards TAD. See how you rate. Then embark on a day-long Tad binge.
Busted Circuits and Ringing Ears (documentary)

Friday, August 30, 2013

The World's Most Interesting Interview with Mark Arm of Mudhoney

On Wednesday, August 28, 2013 I was lucky enough, with fellow WCBN DJ Brandok, to dial Mark Arm on the telephone and speak with him for half an hour about such topics as interesting opening bands, shitty wines, and penis graffiti. Mudhoney are playing at the Magic Stick in Detroit on Friday, August 30 along with Easy Action and Protomartyr.

Fans of this blog- I know you are legion- already know I enjoy Protomartyr. I didn't want to offend anyone on the air, or turd up the interview by talking a lot, so I held back on this commentary: live, Protomartyr are...not thee most interesting band to see. They kind of look like three kids and their pissed-off dad (on vocals) standing on stage practicing. That is fine with me because not everyone can bring the circus to town.

We asked Mark if he would name some bands that have opened for Mudhoney recently that he liked. Here are some of them:

And here is our delightful conversation with Mark, shaved down a little so it sounds almost like we know what we're doing.

Enjoy this built-in MP3 player because it took me about an hour to get one that worked. P.S. It might not work in some browsers. Never mind, I don't have time for this shit.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lizzie Borden!

Did you use to chant this when you were a kid?

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father 41.

Is this just a Massachusetts thing?

Today is Lizzie Borden's birthday, which my good friend Gabrielle pointed out (hi Gab!) on faceboob. This woke up some memories and she posted a video of this Boston band from the 1980s, Lizzie Borden and the Axes.

Well, you know what happens when someone posts a utube video on fartbook. Down the rabbit hole......but before you watch those videos, listen. If you aren't from Boston you might find this interesting.

In the 1980s, at the dawn of MTV, the greater Boston area did not have cable TV for a reason I either don't remember or don't understand. So instead, we had V-66, a local UHF channel anyone with a TV could get, albeit with dreadful reception in some places. What was so cool about having a local music video channel during the time music video was an exciting new art form was that loads of local bands made videos and got airplay.

V-66 only existed for a year and a half, but after local independent commercial radio station WBCN, much of my early exposure to local rock and roll was thanks to this short-lived local music video channel. And now, the rabbit hole.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Art Fair again already??!!

Why hello. It is hotter and damper than a sweaty crotch here in Ann Arbor, and many other parts of this great nation of ours, but will you hear me complaining? No you won't, because I fucking love it when it gets this hot.

The Onion wrote this article today. Look! But for real, some people really have a higher heat meter or something.

Anyway, July in Ann Arbor means seventeen thousand fat sweaty hogs from places like Ohio and Pennsylvania trundle out here in RVs and giant trailers to see and participate in the annual Art Fair that occupies our town at this time of year. Locals mostly hate it- at least the locals I know do.

I'm ambivalent about Art Fair. Of course there's a lot of shitty art, tents selling crap that is not art (electronic cigarettes, cable TV) and an influx of people from elsewhere which pushes up the shitty driver index by a million. But like I said last year, football Saturdays are worse, and they add up to far more days than Art Fair.

Enjoy the hot weather, because it'll be winter again soon. You can dance around your living room to this wearing only your underwear.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Me & You & Ian MacKaye

Ian MacKaye will be gracing our burg with his presence this evening, as half of his current two-piece with Amy Farina.

The Evens at the Dreamland Theater, Friday June 29, Ypsilanti Michigan. 7:30pm

WCBN's friend Mark Maynard interviewed Ian a couple of days ago. (Text & sound.)

I never saw Fugazi when I was a teen and they were a thing but I remember when they played a heavily sold-out, overcrowded, people-climbing-in-the-windows fire hazard show at Mass College of Art. Everyone I knew went. Some got in. I'm not playing Fugazi today. I'll play something else from Ian's (and Amy's) oeuvre instead. Like this:

Egg Hunt "Me and You"
Egg Hunt "We All Fall Down"

And this:

Minor Threat "Stumped"
Minor Threat "Steppin' Stone"

How about some of this?

The Warmers "Beretta USA"
The Warmers "Wanted More"

Maybe some of this:

Teen Idles "Sneakers"
Teen Idles "Deadhead"

But probably not this:

Minor Threat "12XU"
Minor Threat "Filler"

My first year of high school was mostly a horrible experience, but I connected with a kid who wasn't in any of my classes by writing out all the lyrics for "Filler" on a desk and discovering the next day that he had responded with another song which I don't remember now. That's what teens do, they write out song lyrics in places they hope someone else will see and relate somehow. When teachers see, of course, then you get suspended for defacing school property and using profane language, but you can't please everyone.

While we're slamming down memory pit, remember this album? Oh my god it's still so good. Shitty quality upload but oh well. Go and buy one yourself if you still can. Faith (w/ Alec MacKaye) first, Void starts at 12:28.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Blog Post: featuring non-rockabilly, 33 1/3 books, Nice Hooves, and more

I keep starting new posts and then not finishing them because I get bored or too busy. So to summarize:

  • The Beastie Boys' fifth album, "To the Five Boroughs," is an underappreciated masterpiece.
  • Rockabilly is not really a genre of music in its own right.
  • "The Chitlin' Circuit and the Road to Rock and Roll" is a tremendous book that you should read.
  • WCBN is doing the 33 1/3 book reading series again!
  • Some new records I've really liked over the past few months include The Parquet Courts "Light Up Gold," The Hate My Day Jobs self-titled debut, and just this past week, Nice Hooves' self-titled debut.
  • Speaking of Nice Hooves, meet my new favorite band.
  • While we're on the local bands topic, Protomartyr make great records and I'm sorry to admit that I still have not seen them live. WTF???
That'll do for now. Enjoy listening to some music and then support the bands by like maybe paying for some of this booty.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Thank you! Now we're rolling in dough.

We asked, and you gave.
But the real challenge is still before us. Can we succeed in recycling your irritating shekels (a reference to one of our pre-recorded fundraising announcements, not an indictment of shekels) into 3,000 watts of power? We are damn well going to try.

We have paid engineers, lawyers, and engineering firms to do all kinds of studies. We will now begin construction of a new tower, tall enough and large enough to accommodate a new directional antenna, and then place a new antenna atop said tower. We will actually buy a very expensive piece of equipment to replace our current transmitter, which I've heard is the size of a small car. When we're through, they say you'll be able to hear us in Dexter and Saline.

So once again, thank you for your generosity. Without the support of our community, WCBN would be unable to take these steps into its exciting, and increasingly relevant, future. If you pledged during one of my two fundraiser shows, you can expect a personalized thank-you note from me in the next few weeks. For some reason I have always done well during fundraiser- even my first year I am pretty sure I made over $1,000. Thank you.

Fundraiser 2013 was replete with the usual money-making tactics: pyramid schemes, blackmail, extortion, naked photos, and so on. On Thursday afternoon (2/14) David Schlitt of the Emergency Broadcast Hour agreed to have his body hair waxed, for a price. Many of you bought into his pain and exploitation, and WCBN is better for it. Thank you.
Some of us fell back on old favorites: "I will now force you to endure this Steve Perry record until you call. The first $20 pledge makes it go away." Then we responded to your obedience by engaging in three-ways with Van Halen. Thank you.

We really felt your love, way way more than three times.
Tight Pants Fundraiser playlists:
Friday February 15 | Friday February 8
Tight Pants Fundraiser Archives:
Friday February 15 | Friday February 8

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Give Us Some Money!

WCBN's annual fund drive starts tomorrow, Friday February 8, and that means it is time again for you to mug the little kids on your street and send us the money! To get you all pumped, here are archives of shows I have done during fundraiser.


Friday, February 17. SECOND SHOW OF WCBN 2012 FUNDRAISER. PLAYLIST! This 150 minutes brought in $800.
Friday, February 10. FIRST DAY OF WCBN 2012 FUNDRAISER. PLAYLIST! This 150 minutes brought in $500.


Friday, March 18. Give us your money, 2 More Chuck Berry!
Friday, March 11. Give us your money, 1 Chuck Berry!


Friday, March 19 Listen
Friday, March 12 Listen


Friday, March 13 Listen
Friday, March 6 Listen


Friday, February 8 Listen
Friday, February 1 Listen


Friday, February 16 Listen
Friday, February 9 Listen

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock out with your _ock out on WCBN
Saturday nights at midnight

WCBN has a heavy metal program again. Now in its second semester, Odin's Dance Party is probably a little different from your average college radio metal show and it's definitely nothing like The Grind, which used to air on Friday nights for a long time before its mainstay host left us and the show was retired.

DJs who want to play METAL
We have a lot of DJs interested in playing an hour of heavy metal, and all of them have been granted at least one chance to fill in each semester. Some (myself included) are doing it less because we know anything about metal and more because we think a lot of it is kind of hilarious. I pick stuff based on appearance and title. Segues are organic and are done primarily by sound alone and always will be, so after picking a bunch of records based on their names and covers, I let the show go where it takes me.

Die-hard metallurgists surely would beg to differ, but I think the songs go well together whether they are black metal, death metal, thrash metal, speed metal, and so on. In fact I pretty much couldn't tell you the difference between these.

Spinning the Kreator
I never cared much about metal beyond Master of Puppets as a teen, because I was punk and metalheads had too much fucking hair. Now that I care less about hair (unless you are a hippie) I can enjoy this genre of music without taking everything so seriously.

Music for puking on tilt-a-whirls
Speaking of not taking things seriously, the last song I played was courtesy of Dragonforce. Thirty seconds into it I already felt like I was going to puke on a bad carnival ride. By the time is was over I was suffering from shaken baby syndrome.

Links to the shows I've done.
February 3, 2013.
October 7, 2012.

Links to the playlists of the shows I've done.

February 3, 2013.
October 7, 2012.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wow, it's been a while since I put new links to new archives up here. So long that many of the new links will be to old archives. Oh, well. What the hell. Here comes about six months' worth. Maybe after that I will actually write you a new post not to read. It will be about choosing records based on their appearance.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Twenty Years - Part II

San Francisco was a cool place to go, but not in 1992. They say there was a recession going on in California then, and I barely knew how to land a job even in the best conditions. So I stumbled through babysitting, landscaping, graffiti removal, and other bullshit, and in between I wandered the streets of the Castro imagining I had enough money to get a slice and go to the movies. The thing that sucked the most was that nearly every club was 21+, so I couldn't even go to any shows, and with the famous (and all-ages) Gilman St a hefty train fare across the bay, I never made it over there.

A couple good things did happen though. LIAR came out and I bought it, on cassette, at some place on Haight Street. Not Amoeba. I think it may have been Rough Trade.
And two days before The Jesus Lizard played a 21+ show at the Kennel Club, I ran into an acquaintance from home who just happened to work the door there. My outlook transformed from despondent to ecstatic in mere minutes as he casually said "sure, just come to the door and I'll let you in. We'll tell'm you got mugged and lost your ID if anyone asks."

Actual Flier, Savaged by a Cat.

Here is actual live footage of what might actually be this show.
Do you want to know who opened up that show? None other than the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Vaguely aware of Pussy Galore, I nevertheless had no idea I was about to see a band that just might blow the Jesus Lizard right off the stage. Boy did they get my attention. I guess they must have been touring on their first album which is sort of the same as but different than their second album, and then Extra Width came out the next year and this pace of record-releasing is similar to the way they play shows like where no song ends or begins and the whole thing just kind of runs together and at the end you are like "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED TO ME."

Eventually, the euphoria of seeing these two amazing bands on the same stage in the same night wore off. San Francisco was cold, lonely and unforgiving, so I went home.

Sometimes I can't believe any of these bands are still putting out records and going on tour. But here we are, more than a decade into the new millenium, and there's a brand new JSBX record out and a JSBX show in Detroit next Friday. They may be getting old, but they can still cut a bitch, so you can bet I'll be there with my fucking walker and my orthopedic shoes.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twenty Years - Part I

Me and my driving companion at Niagara Falls

Twenty years ago I drove cross-country from Boston to San Francisco, where I had decided to live with some friends. My driving mate and I had brand-new driver's licenses and some foolish company called All America Auto Transport let us take this poor lady's Nissan Sentra for the conditionally refundable fee of $150.

NOTE: Not actual car

Me and my driving mate, whose new license was even newer than mine, did not want to pay tolls so we took US route 20 for the first two days until construction diverted us through LaPorte, Indiana, where we rear-ended a pickup truck and nearly destroyed the front end of the Sentra. After this we got on the interstate. At least it corresponded to the map.

The car had a cassette deck. 1992 was my year of cassettes, since it suddenly became very difficult to find new albums on vinyl and then I moved far away and left my turntable behind. My plan had not been to leave it permanently. I figured we'd get settled in SF, I'd get a job and save some money, and then have the rest of my shit sent out.

There are only two tapes I remember distinctly from this road trip. They were the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "BloodSugarSexMagik" and the Beastie Boys' "Check Your Head." Both albums still remind me of fall 1992, San Francisco, and all the accompanying ups & downs. No I'm just kidding actually. They both would if I still listened to the Chili Peppers album.

NOTE: Not actual cassettes from road trip. Those are long, long gone.

Even now, anytime I hear Robin Zander saying "this next one is the first song on our new album" and the opening beats of "Jimmy James", I can still picture our descent out of the Sierra Nevada with crystal clarity. There was a significant amount of traffic, and everyone else was hauling ass down the tight, curvy highway that winds down through the mountains. I clenched my new-driver teeth and grew some brass balls and kept up the pace all the way down. I probably left a stain on the driver's seat.

NOTE: This picture doesn't do any justice to what I'm trying to tell you. Just take my word for it.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How to get on the radio

Hello students. Hello non-students. Do you love the musics? If you enjoy serendipitous discovery and you need a way to blow off steam after classes/work, then get involved with WCBN.

You have a couple options.

  • You can come to a Sunday orientation session. These occur at 4pm every Sunday. You'll get a tour and then your guide will get you started on volunteer work, as well as show you how to make an audition tape.
  • You can also come visit us on Fridays at 6pm, for a program we call The 6 O'Clock Shadow. It's not a training or orientation session; rather, it's simply a chance for you to have a look around, pick out a few songs and play them with the DJ's assistance. When you're done, we hope you'll be interested enough to come back for a Sunday orientation session.

Look at some of these pages to pique your interest.
The WCBN homepage.
The 6 O'Clock Shadow.
The WCBN Blahg.
WCBN on Facebook.

Look at our gallery of awesome fliers and think about how if you were one of us, you'd create such better ones we'd weep with admiration.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We love you, Adam Yauch.

Fuck Cancer.

I've spent a lot of the last few days in the zone, which means wearing the can headphones at work to shut out my co-workers, shooting baskets alone at lunch hour (which is "very zen" if you know what that means) and in general struggling with how to articulate my feelings about losing Adam Yauch last Friday. In a place as potentially public as this blog you can be sure I'll still only scratch the surface. The obvious things that everyone can relate to are (1) he was a tremendous entertainer who enriched millions of lives and (2) cancer claimed him at 47 which is just so fucking terrible.

All the internet is on fire with reflections- most of them sloppy and sentimental like this will be- but the LA Times article and the Onion A/V Club thing were good, and there might have been one or two others I read before I stopped reading that I should be mentioning but you don't really need to read more and more about it. In fact it is taking me days to write this, so let me add the Free Music Archive post, and the one on Trust Me I'm a Scientist. Blake Madden really hits the nail where the other posts seem to have shied away, in a paragraph that begins with, "Personally, I’m pissed off."

For me, and a lot of people my age, if I may be so presumptuous, losing MCA might as well be the same thing as losing a friend from high school or young adulthood. Sure, maybe we haven't seen each other in a long time, we haven't hung out in forever, we may have only a vague idea of what each other is really up to day-to-day, but we still care and cherish the times we had together when we were reaching adulthood. We partied together every night of the summer between junior and senior year of high school, drinking cases of beer in places like unused playgrounds and riverbanks.

We were city kids who went to integrated public schools and we loved both hip-hop and hardcore equally, so to us it was a logical progression when the Beastie Boys came along doing both and combining their sensibilities. Right around the same time as Licensed to Ill exploded, I had a copy of the cassette-only "New York Thrash" on ROIR which is now available on CD and vinyl and includes two early Beastie Boys hardcore tracks. There's a lot of stuff on that cassette that's better than the Beastie Boys' two songs (Bad Brains! False Prophets!), but there they are in 1982 being very fucking punk.

As predicted, I can't really go on. I'm not deluded that the masses are flocking to read my blahg, but it's still the same as putting your words up on a telephone pole. A lot of what I'm thinking is still too personal to share, but I'll close by quoting myself from an email I sent earlier this week and then recommend you listen to the archives of my friend and fellow radio host Paul Simpson, this Grand Royal mixtape, and the first hour of my archive from last Friday. Having a trainee with me in the studio helped me keep it together, or else I would have been a sloppy mess and that's totally unnecessary.

Quoting myself:

"With one paragraph, he [Blake Madden] approaches one of the thoughts I keep having, which none of the other articles I've read (not that I've read more than 4 or 5) have dwelled on. The brutal unfairness of it. How come we get to hear every day about disgusting monsters like octomom and the tanning mom and whoever else, murderers like Dick Cheney who get to live long lives, all the useless pieces of shit in the world, but a righteous dude like Adam Yauch doesn't even make it to 50? This is why people invent religions, to cope with crap like this. "Oh, God needed him in heaven" or some shit."

Paul's amazing three-hour tribute show
The Grand Royal Mixtape
Tight Pants, May 4, 2012

Goodbye, MCA. You were always my favorite.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let's Trade Tapes!

I'm spending a lot of time lately with cassettes. This isn't because I'm a neo-hipster (I'm too old for that) although I have heard that cassettes are trendy again for them. It's actually because I've got a new old car! It has AM/FM/cassette so now I don't have to drive around wearing headphones!

Recently - really, really recently for this blahg - I explained to you how playing records on the radio every week was not necessarily a great boon to my music awareness. Well, this is a continuation on that thought, to some extent.

Being a radio DJ has also made it dramatically harder to create a good old mix tape. There's more than one reason for this so let me see if I can explain. In a sense, I make a mix tape every GD week, on the radio. I guess some people plan extensively for their shows and then of course there are commercial radio stooges who don't get to plan at all because a robot is doing it for them, but I don't plan at all beyond taking a few records from home and maybe thinking of what I'm going to play first.

I arrive about 30 minutes before the show, pull out a bunch of things I think I want to play, and with that stack, whatever I've brought from home, and listener requests (if I can get to them) I do the show. I've gotten really good at flying by the seat of my pants to a point where if a song is longer than four minutes and I have something in the queue after it, I feel bored and over-prepared. Describing it makes it sound like every show must be a total trainwreck but I listen to my archives every week and seldom gasp in horror.

With a mix tape you have the luxury of time, and also to go back and record over "She Blinded Me with Science" when you realize that hearing it once every ten years is enough. Futhermore, you are presumably creating something that you or a special someone will listen to more than once, whereas a radio show airs once and is then forgotten. It should be anyway. Unless you save archives. Anyway, they're different. Which is why it's ironically so much harder now to make a mix tape.

Perhaps this is all complete bullshit. Making a mix tape is a skill and an art. If you don't do it for ten years, you're going to be out of practice, just like the time last week when you tried to play "Michelle" on the recorder for your special someone but you couldn't do it because you hadn't played recorder since second grade. The more you do it, the better you'll get. So if you also have a car with a cassette deck, or you're a neo-hipster on the 'tapes are cool again' bandwagon, then let's make each other some tapes. I like ones I can sing along to while driving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Being a radio DJ has kinda ruined how I listen to music.

I am old. I have been buying records for a very long time. Before I became a radio DJ, I used to bring records home and listen to them, the whole things, over & over. I could pull out any record I owned and know what all the songs were by name. If they didn't jive over time then I would get rid of them, mostly.

This is because duh, we listen to music because we enjoy it, right? I mean you kids today don't have any concept of an "ALBUM" but humor me for a minute. The bands work very hard on the package, including the song order and artwork, so out of decency you need to listen to the package as it was intended. Back in the mix-tape days, getting to know an LP intimately would help you make tapes no one would ever want to record over after you gave them to them.

These days it's totally different. Thank god a lot of record stores let you preview records at least, and I do. I play a couple seconds of a few tracks to see if they get my attention enough to play once on the radio. Sadly, this is frequently where my attention ends. I play the record on the radio a few times but once I stash it in my stacks, I forget about it.

Of course the record gets rediscovered every so often. I may stumble upon it while looking for something to play and I go "oh yeah, I forgot about this!" Like the proto-Birthday Party Boys Next Door record I keep forgetting I have.

Or I'll be listening to an archived show (this helps us become better DJs) and have to check the playlist and be reminded of something I played once that was awesome, like the Plungers "Let's Get Twisted" record.

The good thing about this is [re]discovering awesome stuff in your collection. Remember Rye Coalition? When they first stepped on the scene I gobbled up their early 7" records and the split 12" with Karp. Then they put out their first LP and I left Amerikkka for an overseas adventure which lasted almost 10 years. I guess they're still making records, but anyway, right now I'm rediscovering "Hee Saw Dhuh Kaet."

Tell me what you've [re]discovered lately.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tight Pants Obsession of the Moment: Franz Ferdinand

I was toiling away at work today when I got a sudden earworm. I just had to hear the first Franz Ferdinand album, but I didn't have it with me because duh, I was at work, so I was reduced to playing youtube videos. They actually got the job done pretty well.

I realized that I know almost every word of this album, but not proudly because it's one of my guilty pleasures. As if I need to care what anyone thinks. As if I'm somehow losing punk cred with myself for being in love with this record.

So for the record, I'm in love with Franz Ferdinand (the record.)

I used to think sheepishly that it was pop bubblegum and was apologetic for liking Franz Ferdinand, but this is a genius album. Today I realized it not only is kind of like a Gang of Four record for the aughts (ahh, well, before Gang of Four actually made a new record for the aughts), it is also like a Talking Heads '77 album for the aughts. I'm making this parallel mainly based on lyrics and therefore attitude.

Plus I really enjoy saucy, fuckoff lyrics like "come on home, but don't forget to leave" and "I know I won't be leaving here with you." A girl can sing along with this record from start to finish. That is why I never take passengers in my car.

There aren't many albums I can remember hearing for the first time. By this I do mean a song on the radio or friend's house or whatever, not literally the whole album, but the implication is you hear the song and then you procure the album that comes with it, unless it is a single. What I also mean is the details are clear: not only do you remember hearing it but you remember where you were, what you were doing, maybe what year it was.

I was in Prague the summer of 2004, hanging around a friend's apartment and thought it would be neat to turn on a radio and check out some Czech radio and maybe discover some Czech bands but of course pretty much every station was playing English language pop or rock. It was under these conditions that I first heard "Matinee."

Do you think the nice Czech DJ came on the radio like we do at WCBN and clearly announced the name of the band and song? It was weeks before I heard it again, and I'm lucky it was a huge smash because it did reappear by way of Asian MTV. I used to live in a faraway land, you see, and I was in Prague on holiday from my Southeast Asian residence where I lived for six years.

So thanks to MTV and Asian CD piracy I bought my first copy (a burned CD in a plastic envelope with a shittily computer printed album cover and song list) of Franz Ferdinand and listened to it quite a bit for quite a while. Next six Tight Pantses, you're going to listen to it too.

...but if you're still looking for punk cred, how's this: drummer Paul Thomson was also in the wicked awesome Yummy Fur, although he wasn't on their incredible first album Nightclub. (See how uuhngschpugg can't admit that Franz Ferdinand is a good record.)