my other web poo:      my Pinterest       my flickr       my Delicious       my Twitter       my Spotify       my YouTube faves      my GoodReads      

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mother told me, yes she told me, I’d meet Shuffle-a-gogoers like you

Once again - it's shufffle time. MP3 player device of choice set to random and the first ten songs...

1. the ROLLING STONES - Sympathy for the Devil (Beggars Banquet 1968) I love absolutely everything about Sympathy, from the "whoo woo" backing vocals to Keith's cool-as-shit guitar to Bill Wyman's fabulous maraca shaking.

2. JERRY REED - Guitar Man (the Essential Jerry Reed) Jerry's semi-autobiographical 1967 single, which was later appropriated by Elvis.

3. the TEARDROPS EXPLODES - When I Dream (Kilimanjaro 1980) I'm pretty sure that this was the first Julian Cope song I ever heard and it's still my favorite. The song clocks in at over seven minutes, but the last four minutes are really just an incredibly gradual fade out. And I wish it sent on for ten more minutes.

4. the RAMONES - I Don't Care (Rocket to Russia 1977) I love Joey's faux aristocrat vocal. He's trying to sound snobby, but he still sounds like he's from Queens.

5. the POGUES - Boat Train (Peace and Love 1989) This is one of my favorite Shane MacGowan vocals and about the point that I sort of gave up on him. Everything after this seems a bit uninspired.

6. the BEATLES - You're Going to Lose That Girl (Help! 1965) The Beatles were contemporaries of Freddie and the Dreamers and the Hullaballoos and are probably best remembered today for having Barbara Bach's husband on drums.

7. the WILLIS BROTHERS - Alcohol and # 2 Diesel (24 Great Truck Drivin Hits) Take a truckful of oranges and truckful of watermelons and add alcohol and you end up with a great country song.

8. ELVIS PRESLEY - Clean Up Your Backyard (Elvis at the Movies) From the 1967 film the Trouble with Girls, this Mac Davis/Billy Strange song was the song that brought me back to Elvis. I was sick of Elvis kitsch by the time I got to college and broke bad on the king, but at my college radio station I randomly played this cut off of one of the many suspect Elvis comps that came out in the 80's and was absolutely floored.

9. CROWDED HOUSE - Pineapple Head (Together Alone 1993) Neil Finn's overdue for another album, right?

10. JACCO GARDNER - Watching the Moon (Cabinet of Curiosities 2013) This will most likely be a 2013 top 20 album for me. Jacco is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist that plays chamber pop ala the Left Banke or Sagittarius. Or, in the case of this song, Syd Barrett.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A book I enjoyed: Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible by Jim Steinmeyer

Lately most of the books I've read have been about rock music or books about creative inspiration and motivation. I wanted a break and decided to read a book about something I don't follow as avidly as my other interests. In my long list of books to some day check out I had  Hiding the Elephant by Jim Steinmeyer, which I think I added to the list after seeing Teller (of Penn and Teller) reference it in article.

I'm interested in magic, but never really followed it enough to call myself a fan. Other than fumbling through a trick or two in grade school, I never went through a magic phase growing up. When I went to Marshall Brodien's Magic Shop at Old Chicago it was to buy novelties and pranks, not magic cards or props. Itching powder and the fly in the fake ice cube were more my speed over a trick I'd have to practice over and over again. But the review of this book looked promising, and with an endoresment (and introduction) from Teller I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did! A wonderful read.

A fascinating walk through the history of magic and the showmanship that went with it from the late 1800's through the end of magic's golden era in the 1930's. Although the book explains the mechanics of many great illusions, it's much more than just a "how they did it" book. There are compelling character studies of magicians and the entire magic community as well as an in-depth look at European and American theater of the era. The magicians' stories intertwine as illusions evolved and theater goer wants changed, all done with the unfolding narrative of a good novel. Author and illusion designer to the stars (including David Copperfield, Siegfried & Roy, and Doug Henning) Jim Steinmeyer also injects the mystery of an elusive trick throughout the book, explaining how the illusionist works and thinks. This is a book about people, history, and creative thinking as much as it's a book about magic.

FOUR and HALF STARS (out of five)

Friday, July 19, 2013

SHUFFLE-A-GOGO - MP3 player randomness and unchecked music nerdage

MP3 Shuffle-a-gogo: Set your MP3 delivery device of choice on shuffle and post the first ten songs. Simple as that. Here's what I got:

1. BUZZCOCKS - Palm of Your Hand (Trade Test Transmissions 1993) Buzzcocks show up on my shuffles all of the time. I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm bragging.

2. CHUCK BERRY - Rock and Roll Music (the Chess Years box) Other than WLS, most of the music I listened to in grade school came via my older brother's surf and drag 8-tracks or his multi tape Wolfman Jack oldies collection. When I hear this I still hear the Wolfman Jack intro - "It's Chuck Berrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry, baby!"

3. MARVIN GAYE - One For My Baby (Moods of Marvin Gaye 1966) My favorite version of the Arlen/Mercer classic, and one of Marvin's best early vocals.

4. OIL TASTERS - Emma (Oil Tasters 1982) If I could only have one Milwaukee bass/saxophone/drum trio it would be Oil Tasters. This was one of the records I bought strictly because it was pictured in the International Discography of the  New Wave (aka Volume), which, along with the Trouser Press guide was my bible during my formative music years. This is a fabulous version of the Hot Chocolate song.

5. VAN HALEN - Where Have All the Good Times Gone (Diver Down 1982) I think out of all of the original DLR Van Halen albums Diver Down is the one I play the least. I forgot about this song. I might have to go back and put the album on again.

6. the dB's - Far Away and Long Ago (Falling Off the Sky 2012) A nice quiet Chris Stamey number from the band's excellent comeback record from last year.

7. the REPLACEMENTS - Waitress in the Sky (Tim 1985) "Big deal you get to fly". Makes me laugh every time.

8. KIRSTY MacCOLL (with the Pogues) - Miss Otis Regrets (Galore 1995) A lot of artists I love have died, but Kirsty MacColl is one of the few that years after their death I still get sad thinking about every time one of their songs comes up on a shuffle.

9. BEE GEES - Turn of the Century (Bee Gees' First 1967) If you like 60's pop and don't own Bee Gees First you should do yourself a favor and go pick it up right now. This album plays like a singles collection, with several of my favorite songs from the whole decade appearing.

10. PETE SEEGER - Summertime (American Favorite Ballads) A Cole Porter cover from Kirsty, and now Gershwin via Pete Seeger. Such a great, mournful version with just Pete and banjo. And some whistling. Even though he still makes an occasional appearance, I think I missed my window to see him live, which kind of bums me out. Until recently I took Pete Seeger for granted.

Monday, July 8, 2013

My picks for Slicing Up Eyeballs’ Best of 1985 Poll

Slicing Up Eyeballs is currently in Part 6 of their Best of the ’80s, Poll: 1985. Being Slicing Up Eyeballs, the list focuses on new wave/alternative albums. From their guidelines: "the albums that made the ballot are limited to those that fall within the very loose and ill-defined “alternative” banner, generally titles from the punk, post-punk, goth, college rock, indie, synthpop, industrial, New Wave and related genres". All ten of my picks came from their ballot. I made a quick look at the 1985 albums on my MP3 player and didn't see anything else that needed to be added (although I almost added APB's Something to Believe In before remembering it was actually a compilation).

1985 didn't have as many life changingly great records for me as as 84 did, but it was still a pretty great year for music. This Is Big Audio Dynamite, Throb Throb, Tim, and Rain Dogs are all guaranteed spots on my all time favorite albums list, so putting them up here was a no brainer.

Here are my ten picks in artist alphabetical order.

  • Big Audio Dynamite - This Is Big Audio Dynamite
  • Game Theory - Real Nighttime
  • Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians - Fegmania!
  • Hüsker Dü - New Day Rising
  • The Jesus and Mary Chain - Psychocandy
  • Naked Raygun - Throb Throb
  • R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction
  • The Replacements - Tim
  • Tom Waits - Rain Dogs
  • Yello - Stella

Alright, bring on 1986.

Friday, July 5, 2013

New beer arrivals at the Agogo household: Summer Edition

We finally whittled down our beer inventory enough to merit bringing in a new selection. The focus this trip is on Summer beers.

Restocking beer at the Agogo Household: Summer edition

Left to right:

Rosa Hibiscus Ale from Chicago's always reliable Revolution Brewing Company. I didn't expect to care much for an ale steeped with hibiscus flowers orange peel, but the Mrs is a fan and I've got to admit it's quite refreshing.

Three beers from Chicago's first Latin American-owned microbrewery (maybe even the first in the US, but I'm sure on that) 5 Rabbit Cerveceria. Initially their beer was contract brewed by Argus and then Minhas, but I think everything is now done in-house at their new facility. I don't see anything on their website about an open taproom, but I'm hoping to get there in person sometime soon. 
5 Grass is their hoppy American Pale Ale. According to their website: "5 Grass is not exactly a pale ale; its malt profile is smoother than the classic style, and the hops are neither British or Cascadian in character."
5 Vulture is a Chile Beer/Oaxacan Style Dark.
5 Rabbit is their flagship American Blonde. 
Haven't tried the 5 Grass yet, but I can vouch for the wonderfulness of the other two. 5 Vulture is a treat, but it's distinct taste makes it more of one "have one and move on" beer for me. 5 Rabbit I could drink all night and be happy.

Sol and/or Tecate are our traditional house beers for the Summer. Opted for Sol this trip.

Shuffle-a-gogo: some random MP3 player action

SHUFFLE-A-GOGO: Set your MP3 delivery device of choice to shuffle/random and write down the first ten songs.

1. the STRANGELOVES - I wan Candy (Best of the Strangeloves) 1965 single from some New Yorkers pretending to be Australian, including future Blondie producer and Sire records co-founder, Richard Gottehrer.

2. ECHO & the BUNNYMEN - the Idolness of Gods (the Fountain 2009) An enjoyable later Echo cut, but by this point  Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant seem to be coasting.

3. the KINGSTON TRIO - Corey, Corey (At Large 1959) This was in my parents record collection, so it was one of the first albums I ever played. Other than the Kingston Trio and Bob Newhart the options were limited; my other choices were the Ben Hur soundtrack or Banjo at the Gaslight Club.

4. SMASHING PUMPKINS - Here Is No Why (Mellon Collie and the blah blah blah 1995) Pumpkins are one of the most bands I skip when they come up on a shuffle, yet I still can't bring myself to just pull them from the player.

5. TOM ROBINSON BAND - Better Decide Which Side You're On (Power in the Darkness 1978) Tom Robinson is due for a resurgence - he made some fantastic records.

6. GO HOME PRODUCTIONS - Work It Out With a Foxy Lady (GHP Complete) A mashup of Beyonce vs Hendrix. Like many modern mainstream pop artists, I think the only Beyonce songs I actually know are from mash-ups.

7. the TING TINGS - Day to Day (Sounds from Nowheresville 2012) I loved their debut We Started Nothing, but this second album was an incredible disappointment. Time to delete it from the library.

8. LEO SAYER - I Think We Fell In Love Too Fast (Endless Flight 1976) Yeah, that's right. Leo Fucking Sayer.

9. PORTER WAGONER - Nothing Between (Rubber Room comp) - I'm always amazed at how twisted and messed up Porter lyrics are. Seems too weird to get mainstream attention, which makes me miss the country music world of the Sixties even more.

10. DOVES - The Sulpher Man (Best of the Doves) I think the Doves are going to be the band I play rest of the morning.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Are We Not Polyresin Throbblehead Figures? We Are Devo!

I've gotten away from buying cool little tchotchkes and knick knacks, but this Devo Energy Dome Throbblehead from Aggronautix is making me reconsider that stance. I kind of feel like I need to own one of these. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

QUOTENERD: "We need more impossible in our culture."

"We need more impossible in our culture." - Lisa Carver

Over the past few months whenever I need a bit of inspiration I keep coming back to this quote from Lisa Carver. The line comes from a fabulous piece she wrote for the New York Times last October called Yoko Ono: A Reconsideration. The piece has also inspired me to go back and give Yoko Ono another try, which I'll be doing soon. The article is a segment from her book Reaching Out with No Hands: Reconsidering Yoko Ono. I had never thought I needed to read an entire book about Yoko, but this article makes me think otherwise.

Monday, July 1, 2013

2013 Half Way Point - My Top 20 Albums So Far

We're six months into the year, which is officially start working on my ever evolving list of favorite albums of 2013. At this stage the numerical rankings are VERY fluid, but these are the records I've gone to the most so far during the year. There will be a lot jockeying for position over the next six months as I relisten to albums and reevaluate.

This has been a good year for music so far. Not great, but pretty darn good. In 2012 my Halfway Point list had twenty albums that I would have been happy to have in my Year End Top 20. This year the list isn't as strong, but there are still plenty of good releases.

  1. JOHNNY MARR - the Messenger - My most played album of the year so far. After more than two decades of side projects and hired gun sessions Johnny Marr finally steps into the frontman role with a diverse collection of songs that showcase his guitar and songwriting chops.[ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  2. WAVVES - Afraid of Heights - The San Diego band's fourth album is an adrenaline rush of angsty guitar charged beach pop fun with hyper melodies. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  3. EDWYN COLLINS - Understated - A wonderfully strong British pop record filled with Northern Soul goodness from the former Orange Juice frontman’s eighth solo album. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  4. BLEACHED - Ride Your Heart - Bleached's punked up take on 60's girl group pop is loaded with sugary pop goodness, making it a perfect soundtrack for a Summer road trip. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  5. OMD - English Electric - For their second album since reuniting the classic line-up, OMD deliver a very likable collection of songs recalling some of their best work of the 80's. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  6. WIRE - Change Becomes Us - Using unfinished 30 year old snippets as the starting point, the post-punk legends make their most rewarding album since reforming. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  7. PALMA VIOLETS - 180 - Much buzzed debut album from a London four piece is a raucous blast of organ heavy garagey fun. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  8. JACCO GARDNER - Cabinet of Curiosities - Baroque pop debut from a Dutch multi-instrumentalist and home studio wizard that conjures up spirit and sound of the Zombies, Left Banke, and Sagittarius.[ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  9. SUEDE - Bloodsports - Brett Anderson and company are stunningly strong on their first album in over a decade. I love a lot of Suede songs, but this is the first time I've loved an entire album from them.
  10. BAD RELIGION - True North - On album number 16 Bad Religion proves to still be one of the most vital and engaging punk bands making records, with more power and relevance than band's half their age. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  11. SMITH WESTERNS - Soft Will - I've only listened to this a few times, but it sounds really good and Dye It Blonde topped my 2011 list, so I wanted to make sure this got represented since I'm confident I'll be listening to it many times rest of the year.
  12. HOUSE OF LOVE - She Paints Words In Red - House of Love deliver beautiful jangly psychedelia with rich pastoral melodies and their best album since the 1990 self titled album (aka Fonatana/Butterfly) [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  13. DAVID BOWIE - the Next Day - David's not in innovator mode here, but he has made a solid album right in his comfort zone.
  14. the WOGGLES - Big Beat - Supercharged party rock from one of the most reliable garage revival bands working today. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  15. SAVAGES - Silence Yourself - Exciting post-punk like an modern indie take on the Siouxsie sound.
  16. the RESONARS - Crummy Desert Sound - Swigning power pop with loads of Merseybeat energy.
  17. CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING - Chelsea Light Moving - With his new band Thurston Moore delivers a sludgier and much looser back-to-basics take on the Sonic Youth template. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  18. NOAH & the WHALE - Heart Of Nowhere - The Twickenham band continues in the same light-pop-meets-arena-sing-alongs of 2011's wonderful Last Night On Earth, choosing not to vary the sound much. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  19. the OBLIVIANS - Desperation - After 17 years the Memphis trash garage ne'er-do-wells pick up right where they left off. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  20. VERONICA FALLS - Waiting For Something To Happen - Spry pop goodness from the band's second album.
UPDATE: As happens with every Half Year update, as soon as I post mine I remember a release that I had forgotten about. Looking at a friend's list I realized I had forgotten Off the Record by Krafterk's KARL BARTOS. That would definitely be on this somewhere. Here's my full review of the Karl Bartos album.

As I said, the actual rankings are pretty loose at this stage, but this is at least a rough idea of where some of my preferences are so far. There are still a bunch of other albums in contention as well that aren't represented here because I haven't spent enough time with them yet. And there's a slew of good stuff on the horizon, so I'm looking forward to a fabulous top twenty at the end of the year.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER ALBUMS IN VARIOUS STAGES OF EVALUAATION THAT ARE CONTENDERS: !!! - Thr!!!er, BEACH FOSSILS - Clash the Truth, BOMBINO - Nomad, MIKAL CRONIN - McII, DUCKTAILS - Flower Lane, the DUCKWORTH LEWIS METHOD - Sticky Wickets, GIRLS NAMES - the New Life, EMMYLOU HARRIS and RODNEY CROWELL - Old Yellow Moon, ROBYN HITCHCOCK - Love From London, JAGWAR MA - Howlin, the LITTLE ONES - Dawn Sang Along, PRESTON LOVINGGOOD - Sun Songs, MY BLOODY VALENTINE - mbv, the NATIONAL - Trouble Will Find Me, PARQUET COURTS - Light Up Gold, PHOENIX - Bankrupt!, POPSTRANGERS - Antipodes, and RICHARD THOMPSON - Electric. Plus I haven't even gotten achance to check out these records that I'm aniticipating good things from: CHARLIE BOYER and the VOYEURS, BILLY BRAGG, CERAMIC DOG, PRIMAL SCREAM, QUEENS of the STONEAGE, and SPECTRALS.