Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Flavor Flav Knows Where You Live

January 26, 2011

This would almost be enough to make me want to put a GPS navigation system in my car:

Almost.

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Einstürzende Cosgrove

January 4, 2011

The kids had dueling stereos playing in the living room this morning. In the one corner was Sparks Fly by Miranda Cosgrove, and in the other corner was Halber Mensch by Einstürzende Neubauten.

I swear I am not making that up. They were also perfectly content to have both playing on repeat mode for several hours.

The overall effect of the aural clash was the impression that Dieter from Sprockets had been tapped to run Nickelodeon (which, now that I think about it, would do a lot to explain how much of the humor in shows like iCarly and SpongeBob SquarePants somehow makes it in there).

Dieter from Sprockets, from Wikipedia.

We all know who SpongeBob's real creator is.

The Cosgrove CD was a Christmas present from the grandparents to our three year-old son, while the Neubauten album is something I’ve had in one format or another for many years.

That a couple of preschoolers would enjoy listening to treacly tween pop isn’t the least bit surprising, but their enjoyment of Einstürzende Neubauten is only surprising until you stop and think about it for a moment:

  • What do toddlers and early preschoolers enjoy doing? Banging and scraping stuff together loudly, especially if they’re metal pots and pans, with occasional random screaming.
  • What has Einstürzende Neubauten made a career out of doing? Banging and scraping stuff together loudly, with occasional screaming.

Add the two together, and of course little kids are going to like avant-garde German industrial music from the mid 1980s. They haven’t had the chance to form a preconceived opinion that it’s strange yet; all they know is that it sounds kind of like what they like doing anyway.

Add processed pop music targeted at kids to the mix, and they’re all over it — which is how we ended up with Einstürzende Cosgrove playing in the living room, over and over again, all morning. To them, that isn’t weird at all. I, on the other hand, was ready to curl up into a little ball muttering, “Can’t sleep – clowns will eat me,” by lunchtime.

I can’t help but wonder what a DJ mashup of the two albums would sound like, if only for the entertainment value provided by potential track titles like “Kissin’ Yü-Gung” or “Shakespeare Brennt.”

Anyway, now is the time on Sprockets when we dance.

Kansas City Wizards Rebrand as “Eastern Conference Skinny Puppy”

November 19, 2010
The Kansas City Wizards' latest former logo.

Out with the newest old...

The Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer announced Wednesday that the organization is changing its name for the third time and its logo for the fourth. One of the original MLS clubs from the league’s first season in 1996, the team was initially known as the “Kansas City Wiz” (insert urination-based joke of your choice here), and their logo was the following vomit-inspired motley:

The old Kansas City Wiz logo.

Eew.

The name, which nobody liked, didn’t last long, and the organization eased on down the road to its first re-branding after just one season, changing the name to “Wizards” and exchanging a goofy musical theater reference for a goofy book/movie reference. However, for the next decade, the Wizards’ logo was not the sort-of-tolerable one at the top of this post. Instead, it retained the hideous particolored vibe of the old Wiz logo:

The older old Kansas City Wizards' logo.

Still Eew.

Finally, in 2007, the club changed its logo yet again and addressed a minor eleven-year oversight by including the city’s name for the first time. Also, the color scheme was at last rendered less upchucky.

This brings us to Wednesday, when the club unveiled its new name and logo in a 17+ minute speech by the team’s president, who managed to say next to nothing that didn’t fall into the “meaningless corporate B.S.” category over a tremendous amount of time.

At any rate, the new logo for the prosaicly renamed “Sporting Kansas City SC” is the following:

The new "Sporting Kansas City SC" logo.

Meh.

Others have already pointed out the new logo’s uncanny resemblance the Major League Soccer Eastern Conference logo:

The Major League Soccer Eastern Conference log.

Similar, huh?

There’s one other eerie resemblance in the new Sporting Kansas City SC logo nobody seems to have noticed yet. Take a look at the “SC” in the new KC logo. Now take a look at the following logo for the seminal electro-industrial band Skinny Puppy:

The Skinny Puppy logo.

The other weird similarity in KC's new logo.

I want to know who in the Sporting/Wizards organization is into Canadian electronic-industrial thrash music. It would be incredibly funny if, next year, Kansas City’s team was greeted on every road trip by the sound of “Convulsion” off Too Dark Park whenever it took the field for warmups, although I’m not sure how many people would get the joke.

Bean Fueled Mayhem

September 28, 2010

Rocket Martin flies off into the sunset! What do you run on, Rocket Martin? [Pause. Whispered:] Say, ‘beans.’

[Pause] I run on beans!

— Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica

Album cover for Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band.

From Wikipedia.

Since I began running regularly again a couple of months ago in an effort to get a little more fast and a little less bulbous, I’ve had to readjust to running in the late evening, usually shortly after sunset. I used to run first thing in the morning years ago, but that isn’t possible now with a three year-old and a one year-old who tend to wake up at unpredictable times in the morning.

One of the biggest challenges of nighttime running is that it’s basically impossible to go on a nearly empty stomach like one would first thing in the morning. It can present some, umm, rather unique challenges. Usually I try to avoid them by waiting to eat dinner until after I get back from my run.

Last night was a different story, though. It was a scheduled day off from running for me, but upon looking at the weather forecast for this evening, which called for severe thunderstorms, and the weather conditions last night, which consisted of on-and-off drizzle, I decided to get my run in last night and make today my day off instead.

The problem was I’d already eaten dinner: black beans and brown rice with peppers, onions, garlic, and lots of allspice. A lot of black beans with a lot of jerk-style seasonings were already bouncing around my digestive tract.

Luckily, the worst-case scenario triggered by such a combination of stomach contents and distance running didn’t materialize last night. It was, however, a highly — uhh — musical evening, and quite aromatic as well.

I really pity my wife sometimes.

We Have To Watch Out For That One

September 22, 2010

We’ve been able to tell for a very long time already that our daughter, now 20 months old, is going to be a handful when she gets older. Even when she was an otherwise totally helpless infant, she became surprisingly good at smacking her brother upside the head whenever he annoyed her a little too much. Now that she’s older, she enjoys tackling him, even though he’s three years old and much larger than she is.

Her first word, as far as I can gather, may very well have been “Ow” or “Ouch.” When she was a baby, she would say this and immediately follow it by yanking our hair as hard as she could and giggling. In other words, she knew exactly what she was doing whenever she said “Ouch,” and she thought it was funny.

The instant she was able to crawl, she began breaking into the place where we kept the alcohol, something her brother never bothered trying to do. Her favorite thing was to break in there and try to sneak away carrying the lone single-serving miniature bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed that we had. It was always the hard stuff she’d try to run off with, never the wine.

Now at 20 months old, it’s becoming obvious that she has some very clear tastes in music. She loves stuff like Raw Power by The Stooges, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols, and Let It Bleed by the Rolling Stones. I’m also not sure how she mastered the heavy metal Cookie Monster vocal style, or where she even picked it up, but she did.

We’ve been working on getting her to identify facial features and body parts, but she never made any indication that she was aware of where any facial features were or what they were called — until last night. Then, out of the blue, she jammed a thumb in my eye and said, plain as day, “eye.” She then jammed her other thumb in my other eye and said “eye” again, indicating that it wasn’t a coincidence. She followed that by smacking my cheeks and saying, “cheek,” and then she punched me in the mouth and said, “wouf.”

This is pretty much true to form for her — she’ll demonstrate that she knows something or can do something strictly on her own terms, when and how she wants to do so (usually in the roughest form possible), not when one of us asks her to. Another thing she did completely out of the blue last night was look at the ceiling, say “ceewing,” look at the floor, say “fwoor,” and look at the walls and say, “wall.” We’ve never attempted to get her to identify those things and have no idea where she picked them up. All we can say for sure is that if we’d tried to get her to identify them, she wouldn’t have done it.

Always contrarian, physical, and rough — that’s our little girl . . .

New Pornographers Concert Cancelled Due to Stupidity

September 14, 2010

Calvin College, a Christian institution of higher learning in Michigan, has announced that a scheduled show on campus by indie rock band New Pornographers has been cancelled for no other reason than the band’s name.

Calvin College’s press release, located here, is surprisingly ballsy, saying:

Regrettably, Calvin College has decided to rescind its invitation to the band . . .   After weeks of discussion and consideration, the irony of the band’s name was impossible to explain to many [my italics]. The band’s name, to some, is mistakenly associated with pornography. Consequently, Calvin, to some, was mistakenly associated with pornography . . .  We regret the message we have sent to the band and their fans with this cancellation, and any confusion this has caused generally. We have been in contact with the band to explain this regret and the breakdown in our own processes that led us to first invite them and then withdraw that invitation.

I love that the school is essentially admitting that a significant subset of its constituency has turned out to be too stupid to grasp the concept of irony, and that Calvin has called out that constituency for refusing to change its mistaken opinions despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As a result, the school has found it necessary to apologize to the band and its fans for the influence of those deliberately mistaken many in its decision-making.

Note that there’s no apology at all from Calvin College for inviting the band in the first place to those who still mistakenly associate the band with pornography, and that the school continually points out in the release that those who keep doing so are, in fact, wrong.

There’s a broader — and quite ironic — lesson in here somewhere . . .

The Internet That Was: 1981-82

August 20, 2010

I recently stumbled across an archive of Usenet posts, mostly from around 1981. They’re archived using the Gopher protocol, so you most likely have to use one of the Mozilla-based browsers like Firefox, Seamonkey, etc. to be able to access them. Many of them are incredibly amusing from a historical standpoint. For instance, in the NET.music archive, there’s the following from April 1982:

I came across a record a few months ago by BOW-WOW-WOW.
After an initial readjustment period I became quite
happy with it.  It's name was something like "See jungle,
go ape crazy" (I taped it and lost the title).  Anyone
else hear this album?  Do they have any other albums?
Any of them worth a listen?  I fear that this is the kind
of group that you could get tired of real fast.

I love the assessment of Bow-Wow-Wow as “the kind of group that you could get tired of real fast,” as well as the simple fact that someone once felt compelled to ask of the band, “Anyone else hear this?” Here’s a history lesson for you, kids: once upon a time (when we had to walk eight miles each way to school through ten foot high snowdrifts every day, even in May) we used to buy music on these 12″ diameter things called “record albums,” and then we would make copies of them on cassette tapes to share with people and listen to in our portable Walkmans and boom boxes. It was like the peer-to-peer file sharing network of its day.

There’s also a review of an Asia concert (!) by a Steve Howe fanboy (who wouldn’t be a “boy” anymore, because he’s now 28 years older than whatever age he was at the show), as well as the prices and information you needed back then to subscribe to the Computer Music Journal (Journals Department, The MIT Press, 28 Carleton Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02142 — I dare you to send something there now and see what happens, since the address is different now).

The fact that everything’s archived on a Gopher server makes it even more awesome. I once attempted to explain to my sister, who’s about 10 years younger than me, how during my freshman year of college (1995-96), our whole campus computer network consisted of VAX terminals, and that the Internet as we had it was all text in the form of something called Gopher rather than the World Wide Web as we know it today. She couldn’t fathom how people managed to exist like that.

Random little side note: I still insist on using the Weather Underground website and iCal feed today to get weather forecasts and updates on conditions, mostly because that was what we had available at school through Gopher when I first started using the Internet as a college freshman, and even today getting weather information online through any other venue just doesn’t feel right for some bizarre reason.

Attributive legalese: The Usenet archive stuff linked to and quoted here is from The Usenet Oldnews Archive: Compilation Copyright (C) 1981, 1996 — Bruce Jones, Henry Spenser, David Wiseman

That’s How We Roll Around Here

April 6, 2010

Our two year-old is dancing around the living room like a maniac to Lodger by David Bowie while wearing a steel bucket on his head and talking into the splash guard from his potty, which he likes to pretend is his cell phone.

Look Out Pop Charts

March 12, 2010

Our two year-old keeps standing in front of his toy vacuum cleaner, holding the handle as though it was a microphone stand, and singing “TISSUE SAUCE!” into it over and over. It’s oddly catchy.

Random Promotional Plug: “Ghosthousework”

February 12, 2010

The album cover for "Ghosthousework" by John Henry.It’s time for a random promotional plug — not for me, though. Rather, I’d like to call your attention to an old hall-mate of mine from college. For several years now, he’s been working as a DJ, producer, musician, technological wizard and all-around aural jack-of-all-trades in and around Portland, Oregon. During that time, he’s put together some solo material that he compiled into an album late last year. It only became available on services like iTunes and Rhapsody a couple of days ago, though.

That album is Ghosthousework by John Henry. It’s a little hard to describe, but it’s quite good. “Experimental electronica with an occasional world music tinge coupled with a heaping portion of tasty strangeness” is a little too vague a description for it, but it’s all I can think of right now. Somebody on Twitter dubbed “Crimsontwit” described it pretty accurately as “Loony, unpredictable but quite fascinating.” Some of the tracks on it can be streamed from John Henry’s Myspace site as well as his Facebook page, so judge for yourself. If you like what you hear, you can preview and buy the album and/or individual tracks through iTunes here, through Rhapsody here and through Amazon here.

And if you ever need a recording space in Portland, drop by the Zoppa Room.


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