Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Brief Music Items (w/ many links)

So, the Vivian Girls came up right after the Detroit Cobras on my iPod recently.  It was just a single track by each of them, and I realize these bands are pursuing two very different aesthetic agendas, but the back-to-back comparison was not flattering for the poor Vivians. (I haven't hear their latest stuff, but apparently it shows some development in their sound.) On a positive note, it was good to be reminded that The Cobras' Rachel Nagy is one of the flat-out greatest rock'n'roll singers of our time (right up there, I'd say, with Lisa Kekaula of the Bellrays).

All signs have been pointing me to Mal Waldron this week. Well, two signs: the Oliver Lake Organ Quartet's version of his "Fire Waltz" at Roulette over the weekend (here is Lake playing it with a different group), and rereading Frank O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died" with its image of Billie Holiday whispering "a song along the keyboard to Mal Waldron" at the Five Spot.  So, I listened to Waldron's The Quest, which turns 50 years old this year.  The whole thing is highly recommended, but I'd like to direct your attention to the track that really grabbed me on these most recent listens, "Warm Canto", featuring the sublime combination of Eric Dolphy on clarinet and Ron Carter on cello. Also, if you're at all interested in Waldron and haven't read Ethan Iverson on the subject, you should do so immediately.

Check out this video, featuring the great Marc Ribot playing some Sabbath-y but thoroughly Ribot-ized doom blues with the whimsically-named but not whimsical-sounding trio Whoopie Pie.  Help, what's the incredibly familiar theme Bill McHenry is playing in this clip??? It's on the tip of my tongue... [Update 3/16/11: Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" is what I was thinking of.]

Bonus Update Item (2/25/11)
This little addendum is my way of comforting myself for my utter failure to score tickets for the NYC and Jersey City Jeff Mangum shows that went on sale today. Instead of getting into a predictable rant about shows that go on sale nine months in advance and sell out in (literally) seconds, I'll simply remind myself how lucky I was to have been in the right place at the right time to see Neutral Milk Hotel at their peak, when none of us at the 40 Watt Club could've suspected that we were witnessing something that was about to go away for the better part of a decade. On stage, Mangum burned with a riveting, even frightening intensity in those days. Living in Athens then, I had a few chances to say something to him, tell him how much I was enjoying the then-new Aeroplane, but after seeing him play I was frankly too intimidated, even though he cut an unassuming figure around town.

I don't know the answer to the mystery of Mangum's post-Aeroplane semi-silence. Maybe he was close to the edge of some kind of precipice and was smart and self-aware enough to pull back from it.  Maybe he'd used up his allotment of inspiration and knew it.  In any case, I'm glad he's decided to play some shows this year, and I hope he can give those in attendance a little taste of what I saw on those nights at the 40 Watt. [Update to the update: Ignore the nostalgia-tinged self-pity above. By means of precision timing, I managed to get tickets on the second day of the Jersey City sale (versus the first day "pre-sale"). PATH train, here we come...]

Monday, February 14, 2011

Scattered Thoughts on the Grammys

Or at least the parts of the Grammys I saw:

I know she sings and has her own records and played at the White House, etc, but jazz fans, try to wrap your head around the fact that the person who was playing bass with Joe Lovano at the Village Vanguard a couple months ago beat Justin Bieber for Best New Artist. And would it have been too much to ask to see a Grammy-style over-the-top spectacle in tribute to Lifetime Achievement honoree Roy Haynes?  Maybe a Boredoms-style thing with 85 jazz drummers (one for each year Haynes has been alive) playing simultaneously.

Gwyneth Paltrow + Cee-Lo + a "muppet" band = much better than I could've imagined.  I have no doubts about Cee-Lo's talent, but Gwyneth brought some game, showing herself to have a considerably better sense of pitch than some past Grammy winners I could name (*cough*Taylor Swift*cough*). GOOP on, soul sister!

Dylan striking some poses during "Maggie's Farm"! I love this guy. And I loved the reaction shot of Neil Young simultaneously cheering and sort of waving to Dylan. Cool to see Neil in the position of a genuinely excited fan.

Did I really see a Target commercial for wigs? I had the TV on mute at the time, but I'm pretty sure that's what it was.  How long has Target been in the (non-Halloween) fake hair business?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Most Fascinating Cultural Figure of Our Time

Isn't James Franco amazing? He's in something like four different degree programs and he's hosting the Oscars and he played Allen Ginsburg (pretty well, actually) and he does weird art videos, etc, etc, etc. 

Well, you know who's more amazing? BILL M****RF***IN' MURRAY, that's who.

So Franco's way into poetry.  Well, so is Murray

Franco was on a soap opera. Bill Murray signed on to be the voice of goddamn Garfield because he thought the script was by Joel Coen! (Turns out it was Joel Cohen.)

And let me ask you this:
When was the last time you heard about James Franco winning a major professional golf tournament, LIKE BILL MURRAY JUST DID?!?!?!?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Three Sides: One Too Many?

I haven't watched all that much soccer in my life, but the other night's Arsenal-Newcastle United match was one of the wildest, most improbably entertaining I've ever seen.  3-0 Arsenal after ten minutes, 4-0 at the half, and it ends in a draw?!?!  The shots of Newcastle fan reactions at the high and low points (including some early, thoroughly disgusted walkouts) were priceless.

As great as that match was, my main reason for posting about "the beautiful game" is my discovery of something called "3-sided football".  According to the Wikipedia entry, this three-team, three-goal variant is associated with situationists and psychogeographers and, while theoretically interesting, is perhaps a bit less than beautiful in actual practice. You can read a very fine account of a match here, including a description of an "orgy of free-scoring libertarian collectivism".

Monday, February 7, 2011

Put This Baby in a Super Bowl Commercial

This is approximately 10,000 times more enjoyable than the adult-talking baby in those online stock trading commercials.  Also slightly NSFW.

Somebody at Slate Thinks Green Bay is in Florida

...and doesn't know how to spell Pittsburgh.  From this morning's Slatest newsletter roundup of the day's top stories:

Green Bay Packers Triumph at Super Bowl
The Florida team took down the Pittsburg Steelers 31-25.

Both errors have since been corrected on the site, but fortunately the newsletter made it to my inbox in its original, much more amusing form.  To be fair, I'm sure this is someone working very early in the morning for very little money.  Still funny, though.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I don't know much about the electronic musics, but I'm enjoying this guy's crazy sounds (scroll down for player).

One of the most amazing things I've learned recently:
Many of the nests for bird's nest soup are "produced" in "factories".

One of the other most amazing things I've learned recently:
David Allan Coe cut a record with Dimebag Darrell?!?!?