I was at the record store, and they put on Desesperanza by the Meridian Brothers. ” What the heck’s this? “, I asked. ” Crazy psychedelic UFO music from Colombia “, they said. ” Can I buy a copy? “, I asked. They smiled.
When I’m with people and I play the music ( I got the vinyl record, but it came with a download card, and the album’s on Spotify ), someone always asks, ” what the heck’s this? “
” The party record of the Summer “, I say. No tengo pantalones.
Luang Prabang, Laos, December, dusk. I was walking along Sisavangvong Road, watching the Night Market vendors setting up their stalls and anticipating a visit to food alleywhen a tiny, distant sound caught my ear.
A 2-hour radio show hosted by Henry Rollins, featuring guest DJ Ian MacKaye. I understand why these two often provoke an extreme reaction, but, me, I’ll always listen to anything either man has to say. I haven’t paid any attention to Dischord in years, and I have to say, there are a couple of cool, new-to-me DC tracks on here.
I got my hands good and dirty going through boxes of records in a Malaysian junk shop a couple of weeks ago ( I mentioned that here ), and ended up buying a couple of Singapore-Chinese rock n’ roll 45s – and, ahem, the amount of rocking going on on these discs varies widely – two of them feature sappy Chinese pop songs, dressed up, times being what they were, with groovy cover art, sideburns, and fuzz-wah guitar. All stuff I appreciate, but none of which necessarily makes for kool jamz.
02. Tony & The Polar Bear Five : Quarrelling / Happy Girl / Many Girls / Friendly / I Love You
So, what can we surmise about this? There’s no year of manufacture listed, but knowing what I do about how American electric guitar music made its way to this part of the world via visiting U.S. servicemen and Japanese eleki, and because of the cover of 1968′s Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da ( entitled Bloom And Wilt, for some reason ) I’m going to say that the record dates from quite a while after Beatle boots, matching suits, and The Ventures would have been considered cool in the West.
This is a band who played music for dancing to, probably every night, probably 4 or 6 or 8 sets a night, and they do it here like they did it on stage, without a break in the action, and I decided to leave it that way. The organ gives this material a chaste, roller-rink ( ballpark, even ) feel, but I nonetheless enjoy putting this on from time to time. Verdict : score!
Battambang, Cambodia. I rode a rented bicycle around all day. Returned it to the bike people. Nice kids. I was hot and dirty, and I’d noticed a bar on the corner because of its beautiful tile floor ( don’t let ‘em tell you that Battambang retains some kind of charming sleepy French colonial 1930s vibe; it doesn’t – but if you’ve an eye for the little things, like plaster moldings and floor tiles, there are clues, here and there ) and the sign that said DRAFT BEER, so I went in and sat down.
The soundtrack in this place was straight 1960s Cambodian rock n’ roll, which was already pretty awesome, but when this song came on, I started to hoot and holler a little. The bartender was like, dude, what’s your malfunction? and I was like, this song is about my city! New Orleans is my home! -I think she got what I meant. ” This man is excited because the most famous song about his town is the story of a whorehouse “, she may have been thinking.
Fair enough. In the perfect world of J.Yuenger, the Louisiana state song would be I Walk On Gilded Splinters.
Things about this track : It’s a version of a song you’ve heard all your life, sung in Khmer, which is neat. Also, there’s some very righteous lead guitar here, fuzz-style. Additional to that, this is Sinn Sisamouth, who was one of the biggest stars ( a singer, performer, songwriter, and producer ) of Cambodian music, who was murdered by the Khmer Rouge in 1976. Nearly all of the great musicians of Cambodia were killed during that era, and it’s pretty much certain that everyone playing on this track was later murdered, or endured hardships beyond our imagining.
Lights Outis album number three by Swedish band Graveyard, and it’s a really solid set. There are some speedier rockers on the record, but this is the track I like the best. I got a tiny bit misty when I heard him reach for, and catch, that high note. I did, I did.
A tune which, over the years, would, at various times, pop into my head, dimly remembered from a cassette a Finnish penpal sent me. Originally on a 5-song EP from 1982 so obscure that you had to be a friend of the band to get it, now a fancy white-vinyl reissue with gatefold and liner notes. Remastered, I guess, from the original tape, for what it’s worth :
” An even bigger problem was that ( producer ) Toni thought we were just doing a demo so he chose to record everything on some crappy leftover garbage tape. The tape was so finished there were basically holes in it, that’s why there are weird noises here and there throughout the record. ”
” ( singer ) Jore and ( guitarist ) Make were present when the record was engraved at Finnvox studios, and that’s when it really dawned on us what a crappy deal we got with the tapes. Seriously, it was bad. They did what they could but in some places the tapes were just fucked up beyond repair. “
I saw an article called ” R.A.E.D. Is The Worst Rapper In History “, and I guess maybe he is, and I’m sort of fascinated by how he totally disregards the meter of the track and just barrels through, starting and stopping wherever.
“This is what the radiation belts would sound like to a human being if we had radio antennas for ears,” said Craig Kletzing, a physics professor at the University of Iowa, who was in charge of the team that built the NASA instrument that recorded the sound, in a NASA press release. More here.
It’s almost fall ( I guess it IS fall – somebody somewhere is probably wearing a sweater, but definitely not where I live ), and so my soundtrack skews naturally towards Euro-metal. And behold, there’s a new Witchcraft album!
Today was an all-Asian day. I went to the record store ( it’d been a while ) where I got a cassette called Black Plastic Singing Flats Vol.II ( I was a big fan of the first one ), and then I went out to the Vietnamese market and bought all kinds of weird stuff that you can only get at Asian markets, and then I came home and made noodles and stir-fried big fuck-off chunks of ginger and garlic and red peppers, and then, while I was making Vietnamese coffee, I played the tape. This song is the only one on the compilation that’s sung in English, but it has a perfect 1960s radio sound that really grabbed me. If I could go to a 45-years-ago Singapore nightclub tonight, I would.
There’s this very specific sound that a few ( rad ) Telecaster players in the late 70s / early 80s managed to get – kind of ( if you’re not a guitar player, leave the room now, okay? ) gainy-but-not-actually, not twangy, sort of scooped-but-if-you-listen-to-the-mids-not-really. I don’t know what it is that would make a CBS-era stock Tele sound this way, but I’ve always been partial. Backing off the tone knob? Obsessive multitracking? Radical EQ? Perfect shitty distortion box to vintage amp tube brown-ness ratio? I have a feeling it’s some kind of less-is-more equation I’m not grasping.