Tuesday, October 25, 2011

90's Hit Parade #18

Cypress Hill - Hand on the Pump

"Hand on the Pump" is designed for lowrider culture, for driving slow down the boulevard, but it's not the relaxing, good time music like, say, William De Vaughn's "Be Thankful For What You Got" or War's "Lowrider." Instead, it has a sinister sound. It's hard not to think of the scene from Boyz in tha Hood where a carload of gangsters ride down a street brandishing a shotgun. The foundational sample is a scratchy record of "Duke of Earl," a classic lowrider anthem, but an odd sample to base a hip hop record on, even beyond the vinyl noise. The hook on the chorus is much more melodically developed than you get with most rap songs. My favorite bit is when the "Lalalala lalalala" hook appears in the middle of the last verse (followed by "Look at all of those funeral cars"), showing up on a different beat and sounding even scarier. Just a perfect record.

Friday, October 21, 2011

90's Hit Parade #19

Sleater-Kinney - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

The great Sleater-Kinney album is, of course, 1998's Dig Me Out, but "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" from their second album, Call the Doctor (1997) is probably their strongest single (stiff competition from "Your No Rock-n-Roll Fun"). The great strength of the band has always been the way Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein's voices and guitars interact. Here, Carrie sings the verse in her scruffy pop-punk style, Corin belts out the chorus, punctuated by Carrie's screams, which function something like a horn stab. The two singers examine the intense passion of rock fandom from both sides, the verse sung by the kid in the audience, the chorus coming from the star on stage (or maybe the kid projecting herself into the star's spot). There are so many little bits you could unpack in these lyrics. Like "It's your-our-ours/Now I'm so bored." Is that about how corporate cooption makes music less "special?" Or "Invite you back after the show." Is that in an indie rock sense (I'm going to be one of those cool rock stars that hangs out with the kids afterwards and offers words of encouragement so they can fulfill their own dreams") or the arena rock sense ("What's yo name, little girl, what's yo name?")? I mean, all the context clues tell me it's the former, but it's kinda hot to imagine those lyrics being sung as a sexually predatory rock star.

Monday, October 17, 2011

90's Hit Parade #20

Justin Warfield - Fisherman's Grotto

Justin Warfield was an interesting guy. He was basically one of those college acidheads, obsessed with Burroughs and Phillip K. Dick and gangta rap, who happened to be a decent rapper himself. The track I really liked back when was "Drugstore Cowboy," which took the premise of the movie of the same name and went nuts with it. Now, this is the conundrum for the modern druggie: acid is awesome, but heroin has the hipster cache, so they get mixed up in Justin's mythology: he's knocking over drug stores for heroin, but I guess this is the 60's, and you can also steal LSD from psych wards.

"Drugstore Cowboy" is a cool track, but the amazing horn riff, sampled from some old Chicago record, and frantic beat on "Firsherman's Grotto" sound as fresh as ever. This is one of my favorite party cuts, makes me want to just start jumping around the room whenever I hear it. There was a bunch of videos of remixes out there, but none of the original version, so I uploaded the mp3. Then I found a video of the original song, but I kept the mp3 up, who knows how long the video will last. After this, Warfield made a stoner metal record, which I've never heard.

Friday, October 14, 2011

90's Hit Parade #21

Bahia Black - Retrato Calado

A bit obscure--in fact, it doesn't seem to be in print--but this is one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard. My friend Sam, who turned me onto it, told me (with characteristic hyperbole) "it's so good I can't even listen to it." Makes me think of a quiet morning on the river in Florida, perhaps watching a single pelican glide low over the water. Can't find it on YouTube, but the second track, "Capitao Do Asfalto," (below) is also quite brilliant. After that, the album becomes less interesting, basically a bunch of percussion workouts, but these two tracks are both amazing in their own way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

90's Hit Parade #22

De La Soul - A Rollerskating Jam Named Saturdays

1991 seemed like a disappointing year at the time. A lot of new albums from bands that had put out really hot albums in the previous year or two that failed to live up to expectations. What was interesting was that they all failed in such similar ways. Long, sprawling, directionless albums whose momentum was held up by countless skits and filler bits. Everyone was making their "White Album." I remember hanging with my friend Ric, and he put a bunch of new CD's in the CD changer, and somehow they all kept landing on the skits and intros and outros, for like 15 minutes. Needless to say, I was not entertained.

Well, De La Soul is Dead gets better with a little perspective. In fact, a lot of what I disliked about it initially is what I like about it now. The skits, digressions and seemingly unfinished songs add to the album. Recurring bits, like the samples and bites from Slick Rick's "La Di Da Di" that turn up throughout, serve the same role as recurring themes in classical compositions. Once you get your head around it, it's actually a very cohesive work of art.

The standout, of course, is "Saturdays." I've put it on almost every party mix I've ever made. Constructed from at least half a dozen disco samples, it's as perfect a party track as has ever been recorded, a pumping, danceable record but also loose and relaxed.

Psychedelicatessen Radio, Season 2, Episode 1: Horseplay

Download the motherfucker

NOW HEAR THIS! This Tuesday, October 18, Bobbie Oliver and Sally Mullins (the two funniest daughters o' bitches in L.A.) will be taking over the Flappers main room. Sally will do at least 30 minutes of comedy, followed by an hour of Bobbie! It's free, and we're taping to make DVD's, so come on out and lend your support while enjoying a great show. Flappers has really good food and drinks, too, by the way.

In preparation, here's the latest episode of Psychedelicatessen Radio, where you can hear Bobbie and Sally (and Chris Schumacher and myself) talk about deep topics like horse porn and ass-to-mouth. OK, it gets a little intense, but worth it to hear Sally's theories about KISS and Chris' feelings about the Valley. While we're at it , here's some Bobbie and Sally:

Friday, October 07, 2011

90's Hit Parade #23

Guided by Voices - Weedking

So we've determined that Smashing Pumpkins are my favorite big-time 90's rock band, which begs the question, who are my favorite small-time 90's indie band? At the time, without hesitation, I would have chosen The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, but now, for the band that really stuck with me through the years, I gotta give it to GbV. The bottomless well of amazing pop songs, the experimentation with tape noise and other "lo-fi" sounds, the haphazard way there albums are seemingly slapped together, all give them a mysterious aura. When you listen to a GbV album, it's easy to fantasize that you're listening to some mysterious relic you found on a dubbed cassette that was for some reason in the bin at Goodwill.

"Weedking" is not what I think of as a typical GbV song. What most often comes to mind are straightahead pop songs with tight Buzzcocks-like harmonies: "Hardcore UFO's," "Quality of Armour," "Echos Myron," "Game of Pricks," "My Impression Now." "Weedking" is more of a heavy psychedelic rock thing. Like a lot of their songs, rather than a verse-chorus-verse structure, it cycles through phases, new hooks being introduced every few bars. It begins with heavy mystic shit: "Long live rockathon/Offspring and Tagalongs were finding/The history book has lost its binding/Pages everywhere/Two Titans without care will read them/We conjure ghosts and then we'll feed them." Is it just babble? Probably, but it sure sounds like it means something, the images possessing a powerful, mythical iconography like Tarot cards. The song builds, then abruptly cuts off, leaving the listener to imagine the brilliant guitar solos that fill the rest of the missing tape.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

90's Hit Parade #24

The Breeders - Cannonball

Jesus, this whole thing is starting to wear on me. I'm starting to get the temptation to just quit. But we're almost done. Past the 3/4 mark! So this song is like the archetypal 90's "alternative rock" hit, innit? Its' fantastically catchy, it ROCKS, but it's also quite weird, with all these odd elements that cycle in and out. It's structured almost like a hip hop track in that respect: you could imagine putting this together out of samples in Vegas or Acid or whatever you use. The guitar comes in for four bars, disappears for four bars, comes back again for four more. Crank it up, dude!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

90's Hit Parade #25

Luscious Jackson - Strongman/Energy Sucker

Funny how I can generate so many paragraphs on Smashing Pumpkins, who, as awesome as they are, I never really thought about a lot, but I'm not sure what to say about this pair of groovy tunes that I included on about 75 mixtapes in the late 90's/early 00's. Mostly, I find myself just wanting to talk about how hot the two singers are: gorgeous Jill Cunniff on bass and sassy Gabby Glaser on guitar. I always loved how their two voices interact. These two funky feminist joints are by far the highlight of their debut album, Natural Ingredients. I especially love the slinky groove on "Strongman," with bongos and flute providing the 70's sabor. Then that weird stretchy noise (could be extreme whammy-bar manipulation on guitar, but sounds more like a record being slowly "scratched" back and forth, or a reel-to-reel tape being manipulated) on "Energy Sucker" over the hard drums. They had some other great stuff to. The album started off with a good single, "Citysong," which had a nice video, and ended with this cool dub track called "LP Retreat" (not on Youtube). But the one other real killer they had was off their first EP, In Search of Manny. The video below is poor quality (probably off an old 120 Minutes VHS), but behold the greatness of "Daughters of the KAOS," below. P.S. the only video of "Energy Sucker online is this Power Rangers fan vid. The comments are hilarious. Apparantly, people have very strong opinions about Power Rangers.

Bonus Beat: