Wednesday, December 08, 2004
glistening by the numbers: FOURTEEN
Lynda Barry - "Soul Mama Number 14"
41: Ooh, this is tasty. classic, interesting, humourous, spoken word loveliness. Unexpected fascinations abound throughout the experience. Truly lovely. I might just call this Lynda Barry.
Avi: I can't really explain why, but Lynda Barry sounds exactly how I imagined she would. My favorite creation of hers: Fred, the beatnik poodle.
Lee: My first reaction was to laugh, but by the end of the track I found it incredibly sad. Blame numbers...everytime you bring numbers into anything, things get messed up. This piece also reminded me of a record I grew up listening to: "Free To Be, You and Me" (the one from 1972). I would highly recommend it for anyone, especially for younger kids. It really embraces equality on issues like gender and race, and blows away any social stereotypes, all without being preachy.
Jamie: This reminds me of situations I encountered in university, running into peers who took their sympathies for the oppressed over the line, to absurd extremes... like the classmate who argued in a Native American lit class that only Natives should study and understand the subtexts of the books we read - but she was as Native as I am; so why did she take the class if that's how she felt?.
David: Ah, teenage confusion - is their anything finer in the world? It always seems to me that spoken word is some of the hardest things to get right. This does get it right. Excellent, engrossing, powerful and odd.
I'm gonna ignore the VERY interesting themes this track explores in favor of waxing rhapsodic about how much I like Lynda.
I can't say enough good things about Lynda Barry and this is as good as anything she's ever done. It achieves her specialty: clothing the exquisitely deep and meaningful in easy, almost vulgar vernacular that o'erleaps the sublime. Sista brings the funk!
That amazing jive-gal american voice of hers kills me. It's so expectant and juvenile and exciting and open.
I love her stuff. Right on Lynda! Yeah!
Buy "The Lynda Barry Experience", a fabulous collection of Barry's NPR work and answering machine messages, direct from Lynda Barry! Just click the second link down! Hand lettered track list and autographed! What are you waiting for?!?!?!
This is a treat from start to finish. "Naked Ladies" is particularly good; it's truly one of the all-time great spoken word tracks.
And hey, while you're at that site, don't forget to:
Explore "Marlys Magazine", the home of Barry's long running strip "Ernie Pooks Comeek".
Listen to this NPR interview with Barry, focusing on her excellent book "One Hundred Demons".
Her "YEAH!" at 11:27 absolutely SLAYS me! Lynda sounds SOOOOO cute and is totally DIY inspirational. I just wanna put on some Prince and boogie with her.
Read this CNN interview with Barry or this one via The Onion.
Buy Barry's novel, "The Good Times Are Killing Me", which expounds upon the themes forwarded in "Soul Mama #14".
Her other book, "Cruddy" is one of my all-time favorite reads. I wish she'd write another one. Like, yesterday.
Enjoy David Kelly's "Lynda Barry Experience".
I've yet to read or hear anyone say ANYTHING bad about Lynda. All signs point to her being a total sweetheart of ginormous proportions. I have such a crush. Is it obvious?
Beck - "Fourteen Rivers Fourteen Floods"
Yeah I know, but just forget that it's a Beck track before you queue it up and then listen to that dirty steel slide guitar. Did you know he could do that?
Beck doesn't get in the gutter that often unless he's wearing his suit of irony and spangles, but when he chooses to the man can wallow in the blues with the best of them. Is it simply convincing mimicry or does an old and lonely heart beat under that bird's chest?
Does it matter?
Buy "One Foot in the Grave", Beck's underrated ultra-lo-fi diversion from his faux disco-carnival, from Amazon.
Visit Beck's official site.
Meeting the Neighbors
While the rest of us drone on about our obsessive and obscure musical tastes, E.K. just stays on the grind. She's knocked out tunes for a year and a half and is still treating her readers to a diverse mix of styles and sounds on the daily. At no extra charge, you can follow her as she engages in the artist's life and points out spiffy linkage.
Tracks fly up and come down fast, so you'll want to keep a finger on her pulse.
Recent offerings include music from Au Revoir Simone, Yoko Kanno, Pharoahe Monch and John Lee Hooker.
Blah blog blarg.
I apologize in advance for the poor writing - I finished filling these out while a head cold was pulling me under. I am a 27 year old Earth lifeform by the name of E.K. By day, I am an illustrator and graphic designer; by night, I am a professional sleeper. This is my main site; I use the hosting for MP3 storage, but if you visit the site you will see my design portfolio.
I've had an LJ account since March of 2002, but I've only been using it for music for about 18 months. I didn't really intend for the journal to become a music blog; I just enjoy sharing songs with folks.
Where did the name of your blog originate from?
"Blarg" is the onomatopoeia that my boyfriend and I use to describe something dull, unappetizing, ill or just generally unappealing. On the day that I decided to start regularly posting music, I was a bit under the weather - feeling "blarg".
What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it's post-worthy?
I don't hate the song. Or I really, REALLY hate it. I'll put up anything, really.
What do you do for kicks when you're not posting?
I have a pretty dull life, really. I work full-time as an illustrator and do freelance work on the side. On any given day, I'll be in the gym, out running with our two dogs, biking or working/doodling in front of the TV. I also volunteer at the local SPCA cattery, which is fun (and noisy).
That old chestnut dinner party is at your house and you can invite three musicians living or dead. Who are you inviting?
David Byrne, Henry Rollins and Laurie Anderson.
I'd just sit back and listen to the conversation.
Is there any genre of music that you dismiss out of hand?
Oh man, I'm going to get hated on for this, but... hardcore punk. Or really, any music that involves guttural, throat-ripping lead vocals. I just really don't like that sound. Of course, I make exceptions when it's done lightheartedly.
Are you much of a dancer?
I can waltz and two-step passably, but if I try anything else I am promptly mistaken for a drunken camel, tranquilized, and dragged off the premises.
Recommend three other musicblog sites.
1. 3Hive: Updates very frequently, featuring one artist per update, with a nice sampling of their work.
2. Aurgasm: Unusual or obscure music - one or two tracks at a time, with a short description. I also really like the layout here - very easily understood, without being graphic-heavy.
3. Benn Loxo do Toccu: Tracks from all over Africa. I love African music of all stripes, so this one is a real treat.
Do you really think that posting music effectively promotes sales of the album?
Oh, definitely. Because of music blogs, I've bought more CDs in the past three years than I have during the entire rest of my life. There's so much good music out there and without the Internet, I think we wouldn't be aware of a lot of it. I found out about Stellastarr, Elbow, clouddead and a lot of my current favorites through various music blogs.
Can you list a few bands that you enjoy listening to that might surprise your readers?
I like a pretty broad spectrum of music. One advantage that comes from not listening to the radio is the fact that I have no idea what's overplayed, what's popular or what's obscure. Hell, I still like "Hey Ya". I've got shameless cheesy love for Journey, Foreigner, John Denver, Judy Collins... I also dig a lot of 20th century Broadway and film composers.
Are you a proud member of the iPod Nation?
Nope. Money issues aside, the only times I'd want a portable MP3 player are the times I shouldn't be wearing headphones at all - jogging, etc (I need to hear cars coming). I'm also not much for gadgets; I was probably the last person in Austin to get a cell phone.
Make a ten song mixtape playlist based on the following theme:
1. Candidate - "Circle of Ash"
2. Susumu Hirasawa - "Run"
3. 1 Mile North - "Parents Arrive"
4. 7% Solution - "Blindshore"
5. Air - "Alone in Kyoto"
6. Marta Sebestyen and Muzsikas - "Harom Arva"
7. Claude Debussy - "Clair De Lune"
8. Interpol - "NYC" (coloured, I'm sure, by listening to Turn on the Bright Lights nearly non-stop during an ice storm in early 2003)
9. Lanterna - "Sands"
10. Crooked Fingers - "A Little Bleeding"
What makes you so goddamn smart?
Drop by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.
Valley of the Giants - "Westworld"
I decided to choose something by a band I'd never heard of. I'm usually not much for breathy female vocals, but this one really grabbed me. Gentle but persistent, airy but firm. The vocals and guitar snake around each other gracefully... it feels like drifting off to sleep on a foggy afternoon.
our man in the field
David Boyle can't stop till he gets enough:
Thanks for posting my Arafat lyrics and for comparing me to Enema (isn't that what they called him in the last "Scary Movie" installment?) By some odd Police-like Synchronicity, the broccoli/garlic/oil-and-sausage spaghetti I ate two nights ago inspired me to start writing a dis song about Mr. Mathers called "Eminem Means Masturbating Monkey". I am not done yet, but we'll see; I may instead, for various reasons, call it "Eminem Is My Monkey". If I write songs dissing certain people, perhaps I could expect threats of violence, but I suppose that's what the police are for.
It's not that I hate Slim Shady, but if he's supposed to be the world's best rapper (or even the best _white_ rapper), we are in real trouble. Not to go on too much about my Yale bachelor's degree or University of Michigan law school degree, but I should think that I should be able to write better lyrics than _that_ guy. You put up some of his 1996 stuff yesterday and, not to boast, even though I've only been recording since April of this year, I think my "learning curve" seems to be a little bit faster than his.
I don't have as much "street" or "trailer park" in me to draw on as Eminem has, but I can live with that. I also refuse to use obscenities in my songs and videos; pussy only means cat and an ass is just a donkey. I also don't talk about being a pimp or raping my relatives or dissing my ex-wife or beating gays so I know that my material is necessarily limited. ...or should that be "liberated"?
I've never really listened to Jay-Z or 50 Cent either but since I know their vile subject matter (pimping/drug dealing/whatever) all too well, I know I don't have to take them entirely seriously because they're too corrupt to be taken seriously. It's the same with Eminem; I don't own any of his work. I wouldn't waste the money. I can't really respect much of any rap done after 1988 or so; really anything after "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back".
As for "Arafat Will Never Die", it's just gotten a sort of endorsement from Baruch
Kimmerling of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem. I mailed him a copy of the tack and he replied:
So that's good.
On an unrelated note, I thought you might like to read this interview with Richard Gephardt that ran in the New York Times over the weekend:
NYT: What else have you been buying?
RG: I did get an iPod. Oh, I love it. It's the best thing that ever happened to me.
NYT: What are you listening to -- political speeches?
RG: The collected speeches of Newt Gingrich. That would be NO. I like Josh Groban. I like Tony Bennett. I like Nelly. He's from St. Louis. He's a very good rapper. I like Eminem. I have his album.
NYT: Some of the lyrics are a little hard to take.
RG: Oh, I don't listen to the lyrics. I just like the music. I like the beat.
Maybe I should send the Dick some of my work? Word.
I have no expectation of ending up as the Dante of rap. I certainly wouldn't mind if that somehow happened.
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.
Also, please note that although I've been pretty tough on Em in these pages lately, I really DO consider myself a fan. His verses on the Lil' Jon remix of "Lean Back" absolutely kill it. I only wish he'd leave off his work on his production and focus more on his direction.
For more of Em's celebrity fan mail, check out Stephen King's commentary in Entertainment Weekly:
The prodigiously talented Eminem delivered two great tracks, one sacred and one profane — ''Mosh'' and ''Just Lose It.'' If any two songs have ever done a better job of marking the two ends of hip-hop's playing field, I don't know what they are. Some critics have spanked ''Just Lose It'' for its silliness (the song's high point is a fart noise). My response: That's right, fool, it's silly. Now you silly too. ''Mosh'' is angry and adult. That doesn't make it better than ''Just Lose It,'' just different. The two together show how much running room hip-hop affords a fleet-footed lyricist. Em takes advantage. Good for him.
"Now you silly too"?
I read EW over three bathroom visits and it IS good for keeping up with the Joneses but WOO-BOY if King's regular column isn't sub-sub-blogger trite and opinionated nonsense. If you're gonna play THAT game, get Fred Durst to do the job, eh? Go right to the source.
Chantelle on the right, Lady Sovereign on the left, You wish you were in the middle
Some days you just get lucky.
It was only my last post that I hyped the remarkable and informative Chantelle Fiddy's World of Grime, noting that the ONLY thing that blog was missing was music to listen to.
Axe and ye shall be relieved.
Chantelle and I swapped a few emails and I discovered that she was willing to drop some knowledge and a few tracks for my American listeners. This is, I hope, the first of many posts from our girl abroad.
I could not be more happy to welcome Chantelle Fiddy into the Tofu Hut as our new resident grime expert and guest contributor.
Here she is in her own words. Make her welcome; she brought music and she wants to play.
Chantelle Fiddy is a freelance music journalist who has been writing about UK street music and more specifically grime (from way back when it never had a name). Her work has appeared in publications including Deuce, i-D, Touch, Tank, Blues & Soul, Tense, and Muzik amongst other. She also acts a consultant to record labels and management companies while attempting some serious moves into A&R.
Read this excellent piece by Chantelle on the UK hip hop movement.
DJ Target & Riko - Chosen One from Aim High, Volume One
After a spell at her majesty's pleasure, Riko, now a firm favourite in the Roll Deep Entourage, returned in early 2004 with 'Chosen One'. A far cry from previous outings such as 'Cock Back', it saw Riko dabble with his conscious side and more articulate word play, something he does remarkably well when he chooses to. Touted recently by Simon Reynolds (in The Observer's Music Monthly) as the stand out track on the forthcoming 679 compilation Run The Road, I'm not about to disagree.
Read the letter Riko wrote to Deuce Magazine while waiting to stand trial.
He also found time to knock out a collabo with Lady SOV. Speaking of whom:
Lady Sovereign - Little Bit of Shhh! from the White Label single
Although perhaps not her best piece of work to date (be sure to keep your ears open for new track "Random"), on it's release earlier this year, the Medasyn produced "Little Bit of Shhh" firmly placed her on the grime map as the alternative mic vandal to be watching. Played on every specialist Radio 1 show as well as garnering massive support from the usual urban suspects such as 1Xtra and Channel U, it showcases both her potential and appeal.
Visit Lady Sovereign's official site.
Wiley - Ice Rink Freestyle from Creeper Mixtape Vol. 1 (EXCLUSIVE!)
One of the godfather, Wiley's, biggest beats to date gets the verbal once-over from Will himself who draws in assistance from co-d's Trim, Breeze, Riko et al. Although Creeper Vol. 1 boasts many-an-R&B influenced number, this serves as a perfect reminder as to why grime, and Wiley, are as important as they are.
Read this '03 interview with Wiley Kat.
Fiddy returns this Friday with music from Bruizer and Lethal B. Show her some appreciation; drive by her blog and leave a message to tell her how rad she be.
With Chantelle and David on board as (sorta) regular Hutsketeers, are we witnessing a step into the new Terrific Tofu Future Wonderland, where multiple Hut Cadets tease your soft earholes with a vast variety of wild and wonderful aural pleasures?
Signs point to yes.
Yesterday's Faces Today fulfills your inner nostalgia whoring and celebrity stalking in deeply sick and utterly gratifying fashion.
File under "Things that Make You Go 'Well, Duh'":
Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.
The King of Audio is just one of the amazing characters by Japanese artist Hiroshi Araki.
Even though she got fired for this, you've got to believe that it was worth it.
Local enfant terrible 'Heraclitus Sayz' engages Arcade Fire member Richard Parry in a combative, lengthy and nutty interview.
Via Unguent: Conservative journalist and essayist WILLIAM FUCKING SAFIRE explores the world of (guffaw) kiduage, where he informs us that (snicker) " logic has no place in the coinage of neologisms" (hee hee hee) and that "Frankly, if I were to accost a young person and say, ''What's the current term among your contemporaries for 'desirable, attractive'?'' the likely response would be," hahahahaha "'Filthy, Gramps.' This would follow slang's frequent linguistic pattern of semantic reversal, with ba-a-a-d meaning 'superb,' with shut up meaning 'tell me more'"hahahahahahhHAHHAHA "and junk no longer pejorative, instead updating the meaning of 'awesome.'" And heee hee hee also ha ha ha says "The word" HAHAHAHAHA "'sexellent'" BWAHHAHAHAHA "for 'awesomely sexy,' strikes me as a strained coinage"
Tell ya what, Will, you old pedant; call me back when you can follow peabs, alright?
I like my sugary pastry iced with sugar and then filled with more sugar (mixed with lard). And that is some serious medicine for some serious PMS, my friends. Just be glad we have these options. Lives are saved.
Kimdog offers her top five Pre-Period Pastries.
Nate P. takes a step into the realm of musicblogging at The Cool Out and an angel gets its wings.
After much thought, I've decided to restructure the Hut's posting schedule for the foreseeable future so that there will be BIG new posts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That's when you get fed, so don't come begging for scraps on a Tuesday. I'll let you know when and how this changes; there'll likely (hopefully?) be a pause in the Hut's publishing status when I make this move at the middle of this month.
And incidentally, doesn't anyone want to get an apartment with me in Jersey City? Let a brother know.