Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WHAT'S A PLEONASM?


Pleonasm is new FREE! 'net label of, as it's proprietor C.Cummings says, "outsidery lo-fi obscure no-genre" and, yup, plenty of the recordings (e.g.: Baker & Abel) are in the fine tradition of kids-goofing-off-into-a-tape-recorder, tho some, like that of Beat poet Bill Bissett, verges on respectably high-brow. Their roster spans from New York to California to Canada. Dig:

The Taints: 3 songs in 4 minutes of juvenile Casio silliness; "I Wanna Get In Your Pants" is my pick-to-click.

Carnivorous Birds "Life Metal": a whopping 27 songs, but I was entertained throughout; some songs like "Acid Squirtgun" really had me laffin'!

Dolphin Explosion: Unfortunately only one song from this gang of unruly six-year-old girls, with one of my favorite artists Mike Kelley somehow ending up on drums

Mannlicher Carcano
: pretty intriguing Negativland-ish mix of sampling (inc. a 9 minute meditation on Johnny Cash) and live instrument improv.

Poo Poo Cushion
: A fair amount of futzing around, interspersed with songs like
"I Don't Want To Go To School" that remind me of classic Cali hardcore, which makes me happy.

Sunday Brunch With Stan
: Surprise! Actual pop songs, well recorded and performed - "Juicy" is funky genius.

And there's so much more...
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

...AND IRAN...IRAN'S SO FAR AWAY...

"Raks Raks Raks," which means "dance dance dance," is an outstanding new collection of "Garage Psych Nuggets from the Iranian '60s Scene" (who knew?) that's got 17 songs on colored vinyl, including this completely mental version of Otis Redding's "Respect" by the Persian legend Googoosh. Step off, Aretha!

Googosh: "Respect" - her command of the English language isn't perfect, but it's a helluva lot better then my Farsi (is she saying "take PCP"?)

As with so many international rock scenes, surf music seems to be a big influence. The CD version has extra songs, including this incredible Monkees cover sung in Farsi, re-arranged into an undanceable waltz rhythm:

Zia: "Man Kiam?"
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

POTS AND PANS PERCUSSION (AND PONG)

Would you like to join a percussion group that is equally at home with experimental instruments, traditional Africana and theater? You can! Anyone can join the Temporal Mechanics Union...but there's a catch. They're based in the unlikely town of Arkansas City, Kansas.

But they do cool stuff like accompany silent sci-fi films, build and play on microtonal instruments, and have a song called "Cookin'" that's played on kitchen utensils. Their album "All Hands" really kills when they get down to African business, performing on a variety of ethnic percussives. Some of the tracks have a loose, drum-circle-in-the-park feel, but then they go way out to left field, like on this track, which features a variety of industrial objects and a "vintage video game":

Temporal Mechanics Union "Technocacaphanon"

If you're wondering what all these implements look like, there's a slew of videos on their site.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

RAP IS FOR SISSIES

I was a bit too preoccupied to celebrate New Orleans's Super Bowl win last month, so let's do it now with a bizarre phenomenon that could only have arisen in this mad, mad, city - Sissy Rap.

A branch of the "bounce" style of N.O. hip-hop, these "sissies" are transsexual/gay rappers with a musical style so brutally primitive they make Miami Bass sound like Mozart. They shout more then rap the campy lyrics, chanted over and over mantra-like, accompanied by intensely dense music/noise: crowd sounds, sirens, shouts, beatz, scant traces of
melody, all served with a hyper energy level. The result is an intoxicating party delirium.

Sissy Nobbly
: Knockin At My Door - Attention you nasty hoes: Sissy Nobbly's got your man knockin on his door!

Pictured below are two other sissy stars, Katey Red and Big Freedia.


Katey Red "Been Gone For A Minute"
Big Freedia: "Azz Everywhere" ("grab your ankles!")

Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna make dat azz go?
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SONGS FROM THE SEWER


Teenagers in the '50s were all hip rockabilly rebels, while their parents where strictly squares-ville, daddy-o. Right? Wrong. As evidenced by this stupendous collection, compiled by Windbag, a good friend of this here blog, no-one really knew what the hell rock 'n 'roll was all about when it first hit an uncomprehending public. Was it simply swing aimed at teenagers? Goofy novelty records? Easy-listening songs with "rock" in the lyrics? Many of these tracks, all rescued from 45s, came out on major labels based far from Memphis, desperate to get in on the phenomenon, and willing to throw anything at the teen market to see what stuck. Much of it sounds awfully white in it's attempts to bleach out the whole Negro-ness of rock.

SONGS FROM THE SEWER

Apart from this, miscellaneous exotic/novelty/oddities/atrocities are strewn throughou
t the mix. Windbag's notes [my notes in brackets]:

"Little Blue Man" Betty Everett on Atlantic. Hugh Downs (tv journalist) is the other voice on this disc. Apparently an embarrassment for him. [Classic flying saucer novelty!]

"To Old To Dance The Rock 'n' Roll" Patty Andrews on Capital (of the Andrews Sisters) [Reminds me of Nat King Cole's "Mr Cole Won't Rock 'n' Roll"]

"I Walk The Line" Carole Bennett on Capitol [If Johnny Cash wasn't dead, this woulda killed him.]

"Black Denim T
rousers and Motorcycle Boots" Edith Piaf on Capitol. A Leiber & Stoller song in French.

"The Teenage March" Carlson's Raiders on Capitol

"The Return of a Soldier" Ric King on Capitol. Lex De Acevedo (also k
nown as David Axelrod) on the label credits. A "talky" song along the lines of "Open Letter To My Teenage Son" travesty by Victor Lundberg.

"Cootie Wootie" Tommy Sands on Capitol.

"Tokyo Boogie Woogie" Columbia Tokyo Orchestra on Columbia. I think this song turned up on "M.A.S.H."

"My Baby Rocks Me" Rosemary Clooney on Columbia. This is the "dirty" version before she and Columbia realized that they made a white pop version of a song about f...ing. They re-recorded it after cleaning up the lyrics. Check out the [original] version of the song on the COPULATING BLUES album.

"Song of the Sewer" Art Carney on Columbia. John Lithgow did a passable version of this on a recent CD.

"Rock 'n' Roll Mops" Henri Cording with Big Mike & His Parisian Rockets. A pseudonym for Henry Salvador, well-known French singer (Celine Dion recorded with him not that long ago). Other side of the Columbia 45 is "Hiccough Rock) Rock-Hoquet)" [Aw, man, I gotta hear that!]

"Rock-A-Billy" Guy Mitchell on Columbia. So someone stamped Elvis and all his co
piers as perjorative "rockabillies" and this pop artist tried to cash in with a song title. This is to "rockabilly" what square-dance records are to honky-tonk. I didn't include his later "If You Ever Go Away (I'll Go Out And Eat Some Worms)" 45; I thought this was enough.

"Rock Around the Island" The Lancers on Coral. The Lancers vocal group backed Kay Starr on several Capitol sides. This was a song from a movie "The Lieutenant Wore Skirts."

"Rhythm & Blues" The McGuire Sisters on Coral.

"Teenage Meeting" Don Cornell on Coral. Songwriting credit has Alan Freed as the #3 credit on the label.

"Rock This Joint" Lola Ameche on Mercury. I think this is a pop version of a Bill Haley song?

"The Polka Rock" Angele NcNeill on Prep (Capitol subsidiary label). [Reminds me of Annette Funicello's "Rock-A-Polka"...still think '50s teens were such rockabilly hepcats? They wanted to POLKA!]

"Rockin' Shoes" The Ames Brothers on RCA.

"Pineapple Rock" Claude Gordon & His Orch on Warner Bros. Songwriting credit shows Billy May.

"Ko Ko Mo" Perry Como on RCA. Billboard ad at the time: "He Rocks! He Rolls! Perry Como!" or words to that effect, circa 1954. [Hey, it hit #2 on the charts Jan '55, so plenty of kids apparently thought that he did indeed Rock! and Roll!]

"Bad Bad Leroy Brown" Frank Sinatra on Reprise. 1974-ish, charted around the bottom of Billboard. I like the final gruff Sinatra comments at the end of the song. [There's a great version of Stevie's "You Are The Sunshine of My Life" off that same Sinatra album.]

"Rockabilly Party" Hugo & Luigi on Roulette. These guy's schtick was the "cascading voices..." albums on Roulette and RCA. On this turkey, it's one of those list songs - those 1956 rock 'n 'roll artists. [Ha! Maybe the most ludicrous thing on here - Mitch Miller? Andy Williams? Just what is their definition of 'rockabilly'?!]

"Moscow Cha Cha Cha" Kay Thompson on Signature. I only recently found out this c.1959-60 45 was by THE Kay Thompson, Liza Minelli's godmother and author of those Eloise kids' books. From the height of the Cold War, and the flip was "Dasvidanya."

"I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You") Ray Odom on Torino. I believe an indie vanity record. When you play it, you'll know why.

A million thankyous to Windbag, who has sent plenty of other goodies my way that I hope to get to in the future. (Although you might not want to thank him after you've heard the final track on this collection...)

Friday, March 12, 2010

SPAGHETTI STRANGENESS

A few fascinating artists from Italy have recently come to my attention. Coincidence? Or is there a new Italian Renaissance going on?

k-conjog have a new album entitled "Il Nuovo รจ al Passo Coi Tempi" that I've really been diggin' lately. The tunes range from surf twang reminiscent of his countryman Ennio Morricone to a sad, lovely waltz for ukulele and cello sounds, but the album's bread and butter are funky kooky collages, often with child-like animal themes, that should go over well with any Bran Flakes or People Like Us fans, e.g. this super fun bit of cartoon craziness. Attention all dogs!

k-conjog: Attenti al Cani

§ (I think this is pronounced "section"), on the other hand, have a new three-song collection of beatless electronics + guitar instros that are as intense as k-conjog is whimsical. Imagine an Eno/Fripp project shot full of adrenaline.

§ - C02

I was hoping that Maciste would be more antique-garde then the almost-ska/rock that they are (needs more accordian!), but their circus-like horn-y sound does remind me that they are from the land of Fellini and Nino Rota. Which makes me wonder: why aren't there more Fellini-esque acts out of Italia? (Or are there?)

Monday, March 08, 2010

PATTY SCALA: LIVE FROM JAIL

Patty Scala (aka Eettap) is a 55 year old jailbird, former stripper, drug addict, bulimic, and teen mother who has bounced around the Midwest and West since childhood. At age 30, she got a guitar and started writing country/folky songs, often with lyrics inspired by her tumultuous life. Her daughter Renee has encouraged this, even getting her a four-track recorder and making the tape I'm posting here. And, yes, her first recordings were made in jail.

Renee says: "My mom has always been different and I think that's how she got into drugs...I could never see her fitting in in the straight world. She was arrested for smuggling heroin across the Mexican border. when she was seventeen my grandpa drove down and slept outside her cell until she was released. She's had her throat slit by drug thugs that broke into our house (my brother and I both obsessively check the locks on our doors to this day), been beat up by cops, been beat to hell by boyfriends...To me these are the boring details. But the thing about my mom is that she isn't your ordinary person. My mom used to tell me there were other dimensions, she has said that she feels like she is living in a dream."

Video by Renee of Patty singing a song "about being picked on in prison."

Patty writes that her childhood was unsettled by constant moving and her parent's marital discord, and tho she wasn't around all the time for her kids, she clearly adores them. Renee (who records her self as elevenbrains) says, "I guess I'm sending this [tape to Music For Maniacs] because I'm trying to save my mom in a way. she has lost her apartment and her car, she has no steady place to live, and she is on the verge of losing all her stuff in storage. Once things go downhill they usually keep going until she ends up incarcerated.
so, when I say "save" I'm not talking about money, I'm talking about self-worth, I'm talking about a sense of purpose. I've tried to explain to her that there is a whole world of people that don't listen to the radio, that would appreciate her songwriting and maybe she will see that she is a special person."

Video: "this one is about her boyfriend going to jail."

I love music.....I think music is one of the things that makes life bearable.

Oh did I forget to say that I ended up in prison a couple of times because of my drug use. Second time I had a guitar sent in and spent a lot of time teaching myself guitar.

I wrote a few really good songs during my last stint and I doubt if I would of written them if I hadn't been in prison. So I can say some good came out of that.

What I would really like to do is just write songs and have that be the way I make money...If Willie Nelson walked up to me and said " I really like that song and I want to sing it, but we need to change this, this and that." I would say "CHANGE IT"...Let's do it . How much money you going to pay me? "

PATTY SCALA

I've eq-ed it and corrected the balance, but it's still low-fi, appropriate for such from-the-gut acoustic performances. The last few tracks - the ones recorded in jail - are really low-fi. Not much I could do about those. The jail tape featured a number of covers, and I'm including a version of Neil Young's "The Needle and The Damage Done" - a revealing choice, even if she doesn't know the words. She's quite positive and upbeat, tho, and the videos reveal that she's a bit shy and embarrassed about performing and being recorded.

01 I Can't Take It Anymore
02 Oh Mama (What About Me)
03 Girl In Blue
04 Replaceable Man
05 Pictures in The Clouds [one of a couple songs performed on electric keyboard, giving it an almost circus-like feel]
06 Fonly
07 You Don't Even Know My Name [Renee's favorite]
08 Midnight Revelation [this is one of my fave's: a sweet Jonathan Richman-like love song]
.....from the jail tape:
09 Daddy Please

10 Feel It From Your Heart
11 Mr Right
12 monologue-The Needle and the Damage Done

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A New Class of Paranoia


The Everyday Film's album "The House I Used To Turn Into" was, on first listen, one of the most disturbing things I've ever heard (and maybe on second and third listens as well.) Much of it isn't what most people would even think of as music: a vocoder-ized voice pitched way down loooooow mutters cryptic non-sequiturs, interrupted by brief shards of industrial music-like sounds. "Song" titles include: "The Boy In The Wall," "We Don't Exist Yet," "Budgeted Out The Perverted," and "A New Class of Paranoia." The final track on the short album (27 tracks in 15 minutes) is the sound of some poor soul begging for his life while Mr Vocoder Voice mumbles banalities like "relax in the sun...take a vacation...take a 'me' day..." over unsettling electronic drones. That's entertainment!

Not to scare you all off, but it can be a fascinating,
sometimes funny headphone experience, and a wicked beat even turns up:

The Everyday Film: The House I Used To Turn Into/Record Breaking Coagulation


A 12 minute follow up CD has just come out. It seems slightly less creepy, and the song titles aren't as twisted. It'll still be dismissed as sick shit by 99.9% of the population, tho:

The Everyday Film:
Broken Up Love Channels (excerpts)

But then again, what else would one expect from the land of Jandek, and the Houston Noise scene? The name "Houston" usually only conjures up images of big bland oil industry high-rises, not cutting-edge culture. Maybe all this stuff is a reaction to the city's sterile corporate reputation. I used to think that Austin was Texas' most mental musical city, what with the likes of Daniel Johnston, Roky Erikson and the Butthole Surfers as residents, but I dunno, Houston is starting to make Austin look like Nashville.
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