Monday, December 06, 2004

Thirteen! Thirteen Fabulous Blackbirds! Ha ha ha ha ha!

glistening by the numbers: THIRTEEN

Johnny Cash - "Thirteen"

41: Love Cash- anything sounds good sung by him. This one's a tad bit dark and loathing. I've never heard this song of his before - were folks freaked by the spooky number thirteen?

Avi: I was kind of hoping you'd put Cash's version of "One" by U2 on this mix, but I'll gladly settle for this. It's a shame that Danzig is so obviously capable of writing great material but somehow continues to release nothing but crap albums these days.

Lee: The Cash-ster always had a knack for delivering a story that made it sound it was his, and I always enjoy that aspect. I was kind of expecting it to be the Big Star version.

Jamie: Few could sell spare, grim tunes better than the Man in Black. The American albums provided a great service in letting friends admit they liked ol' Johnny (though he should have thrown the Fiona Apple duets in the dumpster).

Rosecrans: I'd be a lot more into this song if I hadn't listened to a lot of Johnny Cash recently and gotten sick of his voice. Something about his inflections gets tiring after too many listens in a row and stands in the way of appreciating the singing.

David: I've never really liked Johnny Cash. His voice is, obviously, just amazing, but his songs don't really connect with me at all. This is alright, I suppose, better than most of his stuff, but mainly it just drifts by unnoticed. It keeps threatening to get really good, but doesn't, which is pretty disappointing.

I certainly don't need to sell you guys on Johnny Cash, do I?
One assumes that your mother taught you better than to question the Man in Black.

Buy "American Recordings", the first in the series of Rick Rubin produced cover albums that restarted Johnny's career, from Amazon.
Plenty of good material on here; "Tennessee Stud" is one of my favorite Cash tracks, period.
Visit Johnny's official site.
Read this '93 interview with Cash.
Play along with Johnny.


Eminem and Eye-Kyu - "313"

Early Em. Awwwww. He's just a baby. Still got styles: "I shout with a slang simple as ABC's / skip over the Ds and rock the microphone with ease", "You couldn't make the fans throw up their hands if they swallowed their fingers" and "Your ass forgot / so just in case you don't remember me I run your brain around the block to jog your fuckin' memory" are pretty nice.

I am hardly a fan of the new album (The painfully autobiographical "Yellow Brick Road", the mindbogglingly juvenile "Big Weenie" and the ASTONISHINGLY gay "Reign Man" are about as much as I can really recommend). I just wish the guy wouldn't sound so goddamned lackadaisical in the studio.

This quote is from Mass Appeal magazine, 2002: "I spend my time and I build my rhyme until it's dope. If it's wack, I scribble it out. You can tell when an MC spends a lot of time on his shit and is really trying to craft his form. You can tell when somebody's in the studio writing two-minute rhymes and doesn't really give a fuck."

This one's from the Rolling Stone, 2004: "The hook for 'Just Lose It', I probably wrote in about thirty seconds as soon as the beat came on... A lot of times I'll be short a couple of bars and I'll have a couple of lines wrote down and then I just go in the booth and try shit and see what I'll say. I'll lose my space on the paper and just start blurting out and it'll just come out."

Em. What happened?

98 percent of "Encore" sounds like exactly what it most likely is: Em fucking around. Only a fool would doubt the man's skills; I'm of the opinion that he's a strong a rapper as Rakim was. The problem is that he gets bored and squanders his ridiculous skills with bathroom humor (though I must admit the vocoder MJ skit is vaguely amusing) and overwhelmingly idiotic D-12-ish bullshit (if you can sit through 'Puke', 'Ass Like That', the Elton John inspired 'Spend Some Time' and the Heart(?!?) inspired 'Crazy in Love', you're a more patient man than I am). "Encore" is unnecessary except for completists.

I'd stick to the mixtapes if I were you.

This fairly obscure cut hails from Em's '96 debut album 'Infinite'. That disc is out of print and unlikely to see re-release until the inevitable posthumous box set but you can easily and cheaply buy a copy through E-Bay.
Visit Em's official page.
Play "Eminemania".
Watch the infamous 'Mosh' video.
Read the recent Rolling Stone interview with Marshall.
Cop the infamous Shady Mugshots.

Say as long as we're talking about Em, why don't I take this opportunity to drop a long hoarded Bonus Track on ya'll?

Roza Eskenazi - "Eminem"

It's not often that you get a song that can be appreciated on so many levels, the least of which is Eskenazi's repeated cry of "Eminem!"

Will someone PLEASE use this beautiful track as a base for either an Em dis or appreciation song? It's all Timbo'd out and good ta go!

Buy "The Women of Istanbul", a compilation disc of classic Turkish delights from the 1930's to the 50's, from Amazon.
Visit the Roza Eskenazi home page for more information than you thought you needed.
Read about the Greek/Turkish tradition of the indigenous blues called Rembetika.

Meeting the Neighbors

It's a Trap

Oh sure, ANYBODY can do a massive, fanatically updated, beautifully designed, content-rich musicblog filled with tons of new dl-able music about Scandanavian pop music and use it as a hub to build a record label around, but could you do all that AND take the time to fill out a form interview?

Avi can. Plus, he was nice enough to do this month's CD review for us. The man knows no boundaries.

So, who's a 26 year-old dot-com survivor living in the small town of Albany, CA, just north of Berkeley in the beautiful SF Bay Area?

That's me. I've been married for just over one year and share the house with our dysfunctional family of three dogs and three cats. Even though I run a website wholly devoted to Nordic music, I'm not actually Scandinavian myself. I can't even speak the language. I guess I can probably read enough Swedish to get by but I'm sure I mangle pronunciations all the time. I'll take classes someday, I swear!
IAT went online as a full-time musicblog on September 30, 2002. My first release as a record label was on March 23, 2004.

Where did the name of your blog originate from?
It's definitely not from Star Wars, I'll tell you that. I'm no fan of the old movies and I have no plans on seeing any of the newer ones. 'It's a Trap!' first came to me as a name for a music project I was working on that never went anywhere. I registered the domain mostly because I was surprised that it was free and figured why the hell not? It wasn't until at least a year later that I finally decided to start the whole music blog thing.
What are the criteria you judge a song by to decide if it's post-worthy?
It's fairly arbitrary. I often go for whatever new thing is on my heavy rotation list but there are also times that the new thing is actually an old thing. I try to select tracks that are both immediately gripping and representative of the band's material as a whole, but tend towards the former when it really comes down to it. I know that when I hear new music, if they don't have me by the first 30 seconds or so they probably never will. Now that the site is getting bigger, I find that I'm getting more and more offers to post solicited material from labels. I think it's great that more and more labels are embracing the idea of mp3 blogs and I'm glad to help out when I'm already a fan of the artist. On the flipside of that, the more attention I get from labels and industry-types means I have to also watch what I post as to avoid anything that might piss off the copyright holders. I've been very lucky so far but the last thing I need is a lawsuit, so I'm starting to get official clearance for almost everything I do.
What do you do for kicks when you're not posting?
My life revolves around entertaining, feeding and exercising my three pups: Samosa, Parker and Cooper. Without them, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Otherwise, my wife and I are both fairly serious foodies (we met while working at a gourmet grocery) so we cook a lot. Oh, and I brew beer too.
Five desert island discs?
01. Black Sabbath - "Master of Reality"
02. Black Sabbath - "Vol. 4"
03. Black Sabbath - "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"
04. Black Sabbath - "Sabotage"
05. Black Sabbath - "Never Say Die!"

There is only one band I can never get tired of and that's Black Sabbath. I actually made myself listen to them exclusively one summer while working graveyard shift at a tech support job and proved it to be true. And yes, I happily admit to being partial to the later-era Ozzy years.
Do you consider yourself a "music journalist"?
Unlike a lot of music bloggers, a lot of what I do really is music journalism. I don't necessarily adhere to the same standards that most journalists do but I try to keep most of my posts opinion-free. My mother taught me well: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
What was the last track you heard that really changed your life?
When I downloaded the mp3 for "Kann ingen sorg för mig Göteborg" by Håkan Hellström over Napster way back when, it opened up a whole new world of Swedish music to me. I was browsing the files of someone who had similar tastes to me and selected this track knowing absolutely nothing about it, I just knew it was Swedish. I still have no clue what most of the lyrics mean beyond the chorus, but wow - the song and the entire album it comes from are just irresistible. Proof that great pop music works across all language barriers.
How much does it cost you to maintain your site?
I easily spend a couple hours each day doing the news updates and dealing with email and mail-order stuff. The longer I do the site, the more acts and labels I find myself covering and the more time and energy I need. I also do almost all of my own coding which is both a blessing and a curse. It's good in that when I want something to get changed I just go ahead and do it. On the flipside, I also have to deal with it when it breaks. Now that I've started the label, I'm thousands in the hole. Of course, the dream is to figure out a way to make everything pay for itself or maybe even generate additional income but it's quite a ways off.
That's every blogger's goal, right?
(ed. note: And how, pal.)
Describe the space you do your writing in.
My home office is in a dingy, yellow nook attached to the kitchen. The computer is on an Ikea Ivar-system desk/shelf-unit piled high with boxes of CDs, press materials, pet hair and all sorts of other junk.
Is there any genre of music that you dismiss out of hand?
There's nothing worse than the kind of person who will say something like "I listen to every kind of music 'cept country." Obviously if they really actually tried to listen to country, I find it very hard to believe they couldn't find something they like. I don't write a lot about hip-hop or techno simply because I lack the proper vocabulary and familarity with the genre to do it justice, not because I have any sort of bias against it. Music is music and it's good if you like it. That's all there is to it.
Which critical darling do you find most overrated and who's the most overlooked genius in the music industry?
There's a lot of hype in Sweden right now around Service Records and their acts Jens Lekman (on Secretly Canadian in the US), Embassy and The Tough Alliance. I really struggle with trying to understand their appeal. I've grown to accept Jens and his place in the music world but the others continue to confound me. Anyhow, I'm a firm believer that hype almost always exists for a good reason.

As for overlooked and underappreciated acts, there's so many: Breach, Him Kerosene, KVLR, Moonbabies, Kayo Dot, The End Will Be Kicks, Logh, Beyond Dawn, etc. I could go on and on. The fact that David Eugene Edwards of 16 Horsepower/Woven Hand has to tour Europe in order to find an audience receptive to his version of Americana music is absolutely criminal.
Are you much of a dancer?
My crazy dog Samosa is nicknamed "The Reverend" because he absolutely hates dancing. You even so much as tap your foot a little too enthusiastically in my house and he'll charge you.
So no, no dancing.
What was the greatest motivation for you to create your site?
To be honest, I was surprised that no one else was already doing it. The more time I found myself spending tracking down information about various Scandinavian artists, the more I figured there ought to be single site to find it. I knew there had to be other people out there with similar musical interests and I was right. I know it's ridiculous that I'm just some kid from California doing this site, but it's really satisfying to know I fill a much-needed niche.
Recommend three other musicblog sites.
1. DJ Martian: This site is a great inspiration to me, both in style and in substance. We share a lot of similar interests and tastes and will often be reposting links and news items back and forth.

2. Coolfer: Industry news is just as essential as artist news in my book and no one covers it as well as Coolfer, especially when it comes to the ongoing digital music revolution.

3. Largehearted Boy: There's a reason this site regularly tops so many other people's blog lists and that's because it's indispensable. I wish that David included his own personal quips more often, but it's really not my place to complain when he does everything else so right.

An honorable mention has to go out to Simon at Fat Planet as well because there just really aren't enough people covering international music.
Are you a proud member of the iPod Nation?
Nope, not yet. They're still just a bit too expensive for me to take the plunge, but man do I feel left out. Even my librarian mother has an iPod for crissakes. But hey, the holidays are just around the bend, so who's in a giving mood? I've been good this year, I swear.
Do you have a message for youngsters who'd like to start their own musicblog?
Unless you really, truly have something new and original to offer the world, don't bother. It's probably a lot more work than you think and the rewards are few. Beware.
ed note: Obviously, I disagree on the former note, but the latter is pretty accurate.
Make a mixtape playlist based on the following topic:

Wedding Day

1. Dolly Parton - "Marry Me"
2. Billy Bragg & Wilco - "Hesitating Beauty"
3. BR5-49 - "You're a Hum-Dinger"
4. Guns n' Roses - "Sweet Child O' Mine"
5. Cheap Trick - "The Flame"
6. Billy Holiday - "What a Little Moonlight Can Do For You"
7. Caesars Palace - "Candy Kane"
8. Johnny Cash - "Flesh and Blood"
9. Johnny Paycheck - "The Lovin' Machine"
10. Foreigner - "Waiting For a Girl Like You"
11. Lefty Frizzell - "Give Me More, More, More (of Your Kisses)"
12. Merle Haggard - "If I Could Only Fly"
13. Nicolai Dunger - "Soul Rush"
14. Patsy Montana - "Cowboy's Sweetheart"
15. Red Meat - "Lolita"
16. The Blasters - "I'm Shakin'"
17. Travis - "Flowers in the Window"
18. Weeping Willows - "I Give You the Morning"
19. Scorpions - "Still Loving You"
20. Ann Wilson & Mike Reno - "Almost Paradise"

Marriage should be both serious and fun, so there's plenty of selections here that reflect both. I cheated a bit and selected a single CDs worth of material from the quadruple disc set I made for my own wedding reception. It's meant to be played on shuffle.
Who's your favorite producer?
I used to buy anything that had Pelle Gunnerfeldt's name on it, but since he's become so in-demand (and burnt-out, from what I hear), he's not as reliable as he once was. He does the best he can with the material he's given, I guess. Otherwise, I've been hearing promising stuff from both Mathias Oldén of Logh and Daniel Berglund of Isolation Years.
What makes you so goddamn smart?
It's not so much that I'm smart, it's that I've got this goddamn overactive puritan work ethic that makes me obssessive about every single thing I do. Combine that with the fact that I can't help but retain almost every single little tidbit I've ever posted and I'm a certified genius. Well, a walking encyclopedia at least. But seriously- my brain is a steel trap and I can't do anything to help it. It's not my choice, I swear. Otherwise, I just make sure I come across self-assured enough that everyone knows damn well they better not question my authority.
Who's the man?
I am.
Drop on by betterPropaganda and pick out a track to hype.

Mare - They Sent You

They might not be as orchestral as my pals Kayo Dot, but they still go way beyond the sonic boundries of the standard trio. The only other three-piece that even comes close to challenging these dudes are Switchblade and they've got an ocean between them. This song has all of my favorite elements: it strikes the perfect balance of the epic, heavy and melodic, all at the same time. To think that this is just a demo that Hydrahead repackaged for wide release is ridiculous. Given a real budget for a proper full-length, they'll be unstoppable.


Oh lord, even MORE musicblogs to wade through? Yep; we update like that.
Here's some high points from da newbies:

Blow Up Doll just made my top ten list.
Nonstop bubblegum girlie-girl action that snaps when ya chew it? All day? Just show me where to sign.

Grape Juice Plus offers excellent eclectica from Nancy Wilson, Felt and Crispin Glover.

If you visit only one website dedicated to Dutch indie rock, make it Think Small.

Hip hop musicblog Popadopalis is where we headed: read the review, then listen to the song. Drop in a link to buy the album and the future is now.

Marissa Marchant will likely be the subject of an more in-depth review upcoming; hustle over to beat the crowds. One of those type of things you best experience yourself.
Chantelle Fiddy is a serious cutie wot loves da grime. If I can talk her into posting music on her blog, life will be complete. Start a letter writing campaign, folks.
Fans of the Fug owe it to themselves to indulge in the celebrity trainwreck of Oh No They Didn't.
Bumrocks debuts a guest post today from Pablo Clements of the Psychonauts. Checkacheckit.
Am I to believe that there is a genuine American market for erotic furry anime computer games?

Because it's dorky enough to like computers. And anime. But if you get your rocks off to 'Do You Like Horny Bunnies', 'Let's Meow Meow' or (god help us) 'Water Closet: The Forbidden Chamber'... well, maybe it's time for help. Or a Fleshlight.
Those of you who want to sing along to David Boyle's triumphant Arafat May Never Die will find the lyric sheet here.

Watch ya back, Em':
"In the end, you looked fatigued in your fatigues / Looking a little bulldozed like Rachel Corrie / But yo, yo don’t forget the triumph at Oslo / Or your Nobel Prize, that's a way to go-go"
David Guy's 100 Songs on One Disc.
Waxy is, as always, on point with this astonishing portfolio of cartoon skeletal systems.

Meet my new desktop.

tofu luv

Not to start sucking each other's dicks quite yet, but when the Anti-Dubya calls you Mayor McCheese how do you keep from cryin'?
I appreciate all the well wishes from folkses about my grandmama. Your kind words are heard and hugged. Thank ya kindly.
By the end of the day, we'll have broken over two hundred thousand unique page views for the last ten months or so. Not bad for a country boy in th' big city. Will somebody please go ahead and PAY my ass now?
And what about that Tofu Luv feature I mentioned last post?
If you forgot:

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. I'll pick one lucky loser and we'll collaborate on a profile written up with your location, description, taste, interests and photo and then post those alongside a song that you think best represents who you are. Would be suitors will reach you at your brand new spiffy gmail dating address (provided by yours truly). When the lady picks a boy (or girl) she likes, the Hut will post a report on their first date and keep all ya'll up to date on the budding romance.
Legal age of consent contestants only, please.

Think of it as 'reality blogging'.
Come on. Entertain us.