Thursday, December 02, 2004
glistening by the numbers: TWELVE
Josh White - "The Number Twelve Train"
41: This pioneering black sex symbol right here would appeal to many a classic country and western fan. I enjoy this little number.
Avi: I can totally imagine someone like Hank Williams singing this and turning it into a classic country tune. It's a great song and goes to show that you don't need much more than some rudimentary guitar and a strong voice to make memorable music.
Lee: I have to rant here. Whoever used the noise reduction on this didn't really do it well. Let me hear the record scratches! I love hearing record surface noise on old recordings; it gives them an element of humanity - the timbre of the playing source is just as important as the music itself. The noise reduction is so badly done here, it takes away from my enjoyment of listening....cold computer technology "fixing" the 78 surface noise on the quieter parts takes my attention away from the music. Just leave it alone! Arrgh.
Jamie: Trains, lovers and happiness rarely go together in song and this tune's no exception.The train-like strumming that bookend the song adds to the atmosphere. The guy's got a serious case of the (folk) blues, though one worries about what the next woman in his life will have to go through if she has to do what Papa says...
White was better known for his political folk songs but when he wanted to, he could rip it up like he was straight from the back of a smoky poolroom.
The creeping locomotive guitar and that sweet and wounded hillbilly wail suggest Elvis more than Robert Johnson and Jerry Lee more than Elvis. Listen closely and you can hear the boundary markers between country, rock and blues cracking like gravel under a ten ton train.
Buy "Free and Equal Blues", Smithsonian/Folkways greatest hits album, from Amazon.
Heads with love for Leadbelly or Gil-Scott Heron should ABSOLUTELY snap up this astonishing collection of blues/hiphop/protest music. Brilliant, indispensable and vastly underrated work from an unjustly forgotten hero.
Visit the home page of Josh White's biographer, Elijah Wald.
Listen to this fifty minute program on Josh White, from Boston NPR member station WBUR.
Informative and chockfulla music; the site offers several full-length streaming cuts including the classic "One Meatball", "You Know Baby" and his eerie and beautiful cover of "Strange Fruit".
Explore this beautifully illustrated Josh White discography.
Kokomo Arnold - "The Twelve (Dirty Dozens)"
So much fun that it DEMANDS a Parental Advisory sticker.
Lots of blues wallow in the muck of human sadness but every now and again you find a mad little mockingbird that likes to do the loopdeloop and then you get something like this. It's dirty and wacky and exuberant as all get out.
Definite high point = "Said a'way down yonder, in New Orleans / Wildcat jumped on a sewing machine / Sewing machine, sewing so fast / Sewed 99 stitches up his yass yass yass"
Kokomo's guitar style manages to walk a funky bowlegged tightrope between sloppy drunk and concert pianist. With an uncanny ability to quickchange his picking from honkytonk drawl to jeweler's precision, he's a downright drunken master.
Buy "The Essential Kokomo Arnold", two discs and thirty nine tracks for only fourteen bucks, from Amazon.
Read this brief Kokomo bio or this more extensive AllMusic Guide entry for more information on the man himself.
Not so dirty dozen.
Meeting the Neighbors
SOMETHING I LEARNED TODAY
"Don't trust anyone over thirty" used to be basic punk logic but in an internet world where no one knows you're a dog, who loves you and who do you love?
Young would-be revolutionaries-without-a-cause aiming to take the dangerous leap from sK8r boi to covering themselves in peanut butter and broken windshield could do worse than to visit Something I Learned Today, the self-styled home of "yesterdays best punk, garage and hardcore" and play a few moldy oldies of the skullcracking variety to get into the mood.
And what you got to say about that, Eric?
Not much to say. Mid-thirties, married, soon-to-be father of two; I’m a computer analyst by day, a half-assed music blogger at night. I started checking out some MP3 blogs and noticed that there weren’t any that seemed to feature punk, garage and hardcore music on a regular basis and since I had a pretty decent collection of old punk records that I had been converting to digital format; I figured, “Why not let others hear it?” My first music post featuring MP3s dates from mid-May 2004.
Where did the name of your blog originate from?
I read a review somewhere where the author commented on how it could be taken as a form of ironic wordplay on the current state of radio friendly punk, but really it’s the name of the lead track from Husker Du’s 'Zen Arcade' LP. After bouncing around a couple of other names, this is the one that seemed to stick.
How much does it cost you to maintain your site?
In purely economic costs, it’s nothing more than the five bucks a month I pay for web hosting. I usually spend at least an hour researching and writing each post, not to mention the time spent on upfront artist/track selection. It's not very difficult at all to maintain once you have the storage space and some basic html knowledge. Making time for it is really more emotionally difficult than anything else. I rush so much of what I write simply because I can’t get it done at work and my wife browbeats me for spending so much time at home on the PC. Despite my reassurances, she secretly believes that this is all somehow porn related.
What do you do for kicks when you're not posting?
All of the mundane day to day chores required with career, family and home. It’s quite sad. I’ve really had to carve time out for the blog (usually at the expense of sleep and family)
Do you have a favorite music critic?
I’ve been musically influenced over the years by a variety of fanzine writers. I’ve always been a fan of Suburban Voice, written by Al Quint. He doesn’t have a website but you can listen to his weekly radio show.
I also dig Jay Hinman of Agony Shorthand and his "Superdope" fanzine.
Do you consider yourself a "music journalist"?
Absolutely not and anyone who has read any of my tortured ramblings will agree.
Five desert island discs?
1. Minutemen - "Double Nickels on the Dime"
2. Motorhead - "No Remorse"
3. Husker Du - "Zen Arcade"
4. Poison Idea - "Feel The Darkness"
5. Bad Religion - "No Control"
What was the greatest motivation for you to create your site?
It seemed like it would force me to dig into the backlog of music I had. As any music blogger will attest, there is just so much worthwhile music that goes unheard and I felt I could do a little something to expose an underappreciated genre.
Recommend three other musicblog sites.
1: Vinyl Mine - Jim’s going through his vinyl collection and posting both the highs and lows. Lots of caustic commentary and quality music in the indie/punk/whatever vein.
2: Lost Bands of the New Wave Era - A definite example of quality over quantity. Usually no more than one post a week but each one is researched and well written. The title says it all, a spotlight on some worthwhile music that time has forgotten.
3: Mystery and Misery - I’m constantly amazed at the plethora of all-legal indie gems that Jason unearths. Concise, accurate descriptions and a crisp feel make this a daily check. Plus he’s a fellow upstate NY guy.
Do you hope to someday make a living with something music or internet related?
No and No. I’m too old, and too aware of my lack of ability in the areas mentioned.
What's the best live show you've ever seen?
It’s mostly a fog at this point. The one that seems to stand out is a Bad Brains show from the early 90’s with the HR clone/replacement. I was skeptical given their lineup but the energy, songs and crowd were wild. Bassist Darryl Jennifer seemed to be stoned out of his mind and just kind of leaned against the wall the whole time. He didn’t miss a cue or beat though. Great show, though I wish I had seen one with HR.
Do you have a message for youngsters who'd like to start their own musicblog?
Go for it - the more the merrier. Just have fun and be passionate about the music you are presenting. If you can, try to find a niche. There are a lot of holes in the musical spectrum that aren’t being explored.
Make a ten song mixtape playlist based on the following topic:
FUCK SHIT UP
1. Iggy and The Stooges - “I Got a Right”
2. Jerry’s Kids - “Tear It Up”
3. None of the Above - “Riot Kids”
4. Baseball Furies - “All American Psycho”
5. Social Distortion - “Mass Hysteria”
6. Immortal Lee County Killer - “Let’s Get Killed”
7. Cosmic Psychos - “Hooray Fuck”
8. Nine Pound Hammer - “Outta My Way, Pigfuckers”
9. Dicks - “Kill From the Heart”
10. Dwarves - “Fuck You Up and Get High”
Do you get obsessive about collecting music?
I was a recovering record collector who was doing fine until Ebay popped up. After nearly bankrupting myself, I’ve learned to stay away. I love my vinyl but enough is enough; I don’t have room to store any more of it.
Has meeting with an artist ever left you feeling tongue tied?
I met Ian Mackaye of Fugazi after a show many years ago. Panicking, all I could blurt out was “Great fucking show!”. He looked at me funny, but he still politely shook my hand and said “Thanks”.
Drop on by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.
Les Savy Fav - "We'll Make a Lover of You"
This is from their singles collection "Inches". LSF meld a hypersonic guitar attack to a funk dance beat and ride the groove for all it’s worth. Think Gang of Four’s early stuff with a more soaring, dynamic guitar sound. This is one of the best I’ve heard from these guys.
La Blogotheque celebrates a second month online by releasing a mixtape of "discoveries".
For the last word on the Artest/Jackson v. Detroit debacle, see Wizznutzz Aubernica.
Really though, if you threaten a professional athlete, you get what you deserve.
Sure, I'm a total asskiss for pointing this out, but seeing my website listed over at SFJ was a silly (but real) thrill.
I'm a fan, Sasha! Hi! Hi there! I'm on your dick! How are you? Hi!
Speaking of Sasha (and his interests), the current hotness on the web these days is the much discussed MIA/Diplo "Piracy Funds Terrorism" mixtape that was recently distributed at Hollertronix shows.
I've yet to listen enough to form a real opinion but all the cool kids like it.
Wanna be cool too?
Tofu Hut listeners can get a jump on the mainstream and download a track or two here via the acquiescence and good graces of Dirty Poodle.
I'll give this package of highly hyped tunage a spin in the next few days and report back.
You do the same and we'll compare notes.
Yes, it's a new blogroll collection over to the right.
Certainly go forth and explore, but here's a few that are of especially imperative interest:
Lickety Spit has been so shiny, it's hurting my eyes. How could you imagine that I wouldn't share great gobs of greasy love with anyone who mixes Terror Squad with th' Temptations and Ce'Cile?
And don't DARE sleep on Funky Do Morro, which could easily be gone tomorrow. Where else are you gonna get your Brazilian hiphop fix? Heed a wise old dog: go forth and snag that shit, for tomorrow we lose our bandwidth.
You Don't Have To Entertain Me seems to have found a hazy focus on hazy people; outsider musicians who live and record somewhere on the edge.
I've been eating out at the International House of Pussy a bit lately and although the service is a little spotty, the desserts can't be beat. More syrup?
If you can resist the wonder of Science Groove ("The members of Science Groove have something to prove: science and music can be integrated in a manner that can get right-brained individuals excited about science and shake scientific types out of their left brain and onto the dance floor"), you're a better man than I.
Music From My Loft is offering vinyl in digest collections: obscure, unreissued, desirable and excitable.
Let's get international: Awful Thom's Cabin and ORTF offer a French speaking look at the musicblog genre but you ain't gotta parlez to écoutez.
Aurgasm lights the way to Shystie's "Step Bac" video with this sage note: "keep your ears peeled for the Doom 1 shotgun sample."
A recent comment in the box suggesting some sort of a musicblog hook-up scene tickled my funnybone and inspired me just enough to indulge in some Cyrano-ing that I've decided to give it a shot.
Here's how we'll play: any single women who would be interested in meeting with a like-eared Tofu listener in her immediate area should contact me at the email listed above and to the right. I'll pick one lucky loser and we'll collaborate on a profile written up with your location, description, taste, photo and a musical selection that you think best represents you and then post it alongside your brand new spiffy gmail dating address (provided by yours truly) on th' Hut for would be suitors to reach you. In a best case scenario, we'll play cupid for a lucky match and maybe provide some music for their first date and hear how things worked out.
Location and looks are entirely up in the air; we can get to that in a minute as long as you're of legal age. I'm requesting chicks cuz I have the distinct feeling that single women may not make up the bulk of our audience. If this actually works, we'll try it with a guy.
our man in the field
David Boyle fires off another heatseeking missile to th' Tofu Hut:
I just finished a new song today that I had been trying to wrap in November, the same month Arafat (or at least his mortal body) died, but delays kept coming up. The tune is over seven minutes, which is longer than I meant it to be.
So what? Extensiveness happens.
Strangely enough, there is a psychotic Dennis Prager article "Is it Wrong to Hope Arafat is in Hell?" that came out today. Coincidentally, this is also the very day that Arafat's brother Dr. Fathi Arafat died. Today's news suggests that the Sharon government in Israel seems to be collapsing (although it has appeared to before), so it could be that God itself is telling me to mail you this song today.
Here it is:
David Boyle - "Arafat Will Never Die"
I hope you are well in this dark age, tho it may be less dark because of you (awwwwww-www).
Perpetual Tofu for all.
Cordially as ever,
(Pea S: "Kidz" is not meant to be insulting; I am still a kid myself. If you feel insulted, have your favorite terrorist group send me letter bomb or something.)
Please note that while the Tofu Hut does not necessarily agree with all of David Boyle's politics, we are enamoured with his exuberance and almost irrationally crafted leaps of sonic (il)logic.
We will certainly defend to the death, in the style of Voltaire, D-Bo's right to call Yasser a "Tunisian Tupac" in a Ray Charles themed anti-terrorism eulogy in honor of the late Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini.
We also think that this lyrical thread: "In this peaceful holiday season/let us hope that the whole region/takes up the ballot and forgets the bomb / Peace to Judaism and all Islam / Shalom / Salaam" is fucking beautiful, especially when set over "What I Say".
I like this a LOT more than G.W. Pussy.
The long gap betwixt my pre-Thanksgiving post and this one is due to the death of my grandmother over the holiday and my subsequent trip across the continent to visit her hospital bedside with my moms.
Grandma was a fixture in the early days of this blog; old entries detail some exasperation, love and conflict between us. She really didn't care for th' Hut and was pretty much uninterested in just what I was doing for three or four hours a day in front of that screen. She considered the internet to be a Rubik's cube that she neither needed nor wanted to solve and while I did understand her position, it made her a stranger to a world where I spent much of my own time. Unfortunately, to a great extent, this defined our relationship.
When it became clear that we were unable to help each other, I left her home where I had lodged under the honest pretense of caregiver and struck back out to the city. We found some assumed peace with one another once we attained distance, but conversation was deeply strained.
In retrospect, Grandma's far-too-late diagnosis of leukemia explained a great deal of our troubles; lack of oxygen was leaving her exhausted, grumpy and on the doorstep of occasional dementia. None of us knew this was any more than the rigors of age; in truth, it was disease.
Grandma died only a few days after the 25th. Through some miracle, we talked to one another for the first time in months just before her kidneys failed and said everything that we needed to say in only a few sentences. It took that little to clear the air and I'm heartened by the fact that she knew (if only just this once) at exactly the right time, the exactly right thing to say.
She was an oversized personality and her transition from life to death was fast and dignified. She was lucky enough to have her family by her side and wise enough to raise them so that they would respect her wishes in the end, no matter how hard it might be to see them through.
Grandma was a staunch atheist but even if she has achieved nothing but the void, I honestly believe that she must be happier now than she was in a body that had abruptly abdicated itself from her control. Still, my family and I are left much poorer in her absence.
For my part, I am sad and roughed up and tired and in need of some recuperation but hopeful for better days. This song evokes that mood better than any other I've ever heard.
It is, of course, for my grandmother:
The Dixie Nightingales - "All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life"