Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grand Nutz Da Ladies Man

Our friends at PlusTapes sayeth:

"Here’s the story:

I was working at a record store on the south side of Chicago a few years back, and this kid walks in and asks if we sell local music. So I try to point him towards our local section, but he’s like “naw…I make music.” So I ask him “Oh are you a rapper? Do you make beats?” He replies…”No, I sing R&B.” And he hands me a 90 minute Maxell cassette tape with a photo of himself on the cover and the words Grand Nutz Da Ladies Man on the cassette label. With that, he walked out of the store. So, of course, I immediately put it on.

What happened next was something magical. All the crusty jazz dudes perked up their ears and came up by the counter and listened with me as we heard this cacophony of failed R&B acapellas sung by someone who is most obviously tone deaf. But the thing is….he’s 100% committed. There’s Boys II Men harmonies, ad-lib rubber duckie rip offs, scat sung TV theme song flubs (Flinstones, Scooby Doo) and even a few moments of Karaoke style bliss as he puts on a boombox in the background and attempts to sing along. It’s unbelievably precious."

The pressing is already sold out, but thanks to the generous folk at PlusTapes, we have a copy of it for y'all here:

Grand Nutz Da Ladies Man

It really is as wonderful as that description. Apart from serving as a peek into one bedroom superstar's dreams, the 40 minute collection also dredges up memories of half-forgotten '90s r'n'b stars like Guy, Adina Howard, Boyz II Men, and Luther Vandross. He also throws in oldies like "Money (That's What I Want)", and yes, cartoon themes.

PlusTapes is an awesome cassette label. Yep, some folks are still making tapes. You will definitely want to dig out that old boombox because their catalog is spectacular: early '70s Korean funk, '60 French groovy girls, Singapore surf, Chicago improv craziness, Chris Connelly from Ministry...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Yes folks, this weekend in Los Angeles it's a steel-cage death-match between two California prize eccentrics whose idiosyncratic music is performed on theatrical home-made instruments.

In this corner: Harry Partch, dead, former hobo who spent the '30s and '40s hopping trains, traveling around the country in pursuit of a buck and a meal, composer of songs that sometimes reflected this background, creator of fantastical micro-tonal instruments, the subject of a concert this Fri and Sat downtown at the REDCAT performed on said instruments, lovingly restored.

Harry Partch: "Barstow: Eight Hitchiker Inscriptions"

from the out-of-print '60s classic
"The World of Harry Partch," tho a remake from 1982 by his ensemble can be found on "The Harry Partch Collection, Vol 2."

And in this corner, Llyn Foulkes, alive, one of the "Visionary Artists From L.A." featured at the Hammer Museum in Westwood whose non-conformist attitudes have kept the art-world from embracing them, who will be performing original songs inspired by his Spike Jones and swing-infused youth this Friday night on his "Machine," a one-man band riot of honk-horns, percussion, organ pipes, and a bass string.

Llyn Foulkes: "Top of Topanga"
from the mini-album "Lyn Foulkes and his Machine Live!"

"Barstow" is a classic gateway-drug to strange music: catchy melodies, fascinating lyrics and back-story. Play it for your Top 40-brainwashed loved ones.

So, now you know where I'll be this weekend. Who will be the winner? You!

Monday, May 25, 2009


Here's a great big ol' mess of 'tard-tronica that no dj who wants to keep his gig will ever play:

British nutters History of Guns have a new 3-song download EP that features a hilarious, profane, totally uncool, possibly litigious mugging of the Spice Girls' "Spice Up Your Life":

History of Guns "Slice Up Your Wife"

Brooklyn's The Gregory Brothers have made a bit of a splash on the intar-webs with their video "AutoTune The News," which makes good use of that plague of contemporary hip-hop, AutoTune. The Katie Couric bit at around 1:22 is particularly successful. Their website also sports mp3s of Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King getting similar treatment. Funny, irreverent, and surprisingly musical. Maybe AutoTune has it's uses after all...

The Gregory Brothers: "AutoTune The News"
The Gregory Brothers: "Lift Up your Hearts"
The Gregory Brothers: "MLK"

The Walkie-Talkie Monster's "Pink Noise" EP is yet another free download release, from Hamburg, Germany this time, and features a wonderfully charming tune scored for what sounds like a Casio drum machine set to "Latin," sweetly funny lyrics, and a winning melody. Yay for free music!

The Walkie-Talkie Monster: "When I Think Of You"

Dynamo's free "Let Us Explore the Starz" EP is a low-down & dirty DIY affair from Winnipeg that features a member named Sam a.k.a Fidel Astro a.k.a. Urethra Franklin performing "weird space music about evil robots, the future," and a dance called the JFK: you move "back, and to the left." I would say crank this noisy little number up, but its rinky-dink drum machine and video-game bleeps probably wouldn't sound appropriate on a boomin' system.

Dynamo: "Madness"

Thanks to Tim, and Joshua!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sounds For The SWING-Set

RIAA's 16-song mashup collection takes you on a hallucinogenic trip thru vintage Vegas, timewarping into the Now:

"Sounds For The Swing Set"

1. Meet The Swingers
2. Bring the Strippers
3. Makin' The Love Scene
4. Skinatra
5. Hellvis
6. That's a-Funky
7. Poker Samba
8. superSPYtious
9. Secret Agent's Weapon of Choice
10. Hideaway Moog Souffle
11. No Lies
12. Puddin' On A Ritz
13. Just A Timewarp
14. Hookers For Liberace
15. Nutty Squirrels and Rappin' Rabbits
16. sseexx bboommbb

1. Perez Prado: "Exotic Suite," "Psychedelic Circus" radio ad, Camerata "All Day & All The Night," Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin (Rat Pack live), Sammy Davis Jr "Begin the Beguine," Cornershop "Brimful of Asha," Rusty Warren "Bounce Your Boobies," "c'mon" from Public Enemy "Bring The Noise," Frankie Valli "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," various tekno beatz

2. Public Enemy "Bring The Noise," vs Sandy Nelson "The Stripper"

3. Tony Bennett "Love Scene," Pere Ubu "On The Surface," Tom Tom Club "Genius Of Love," Bob Thompson Orchestra & Chorus "Playboy," Bobby Darin "Beyond The Sea" (live and studio versions)

4. Von Bondies "C'Mon, C'Mon," Sinatra "I Got You Under My Skin," Elizabeth Berkley interviewed by David Letterman

5. RunDMC "Back From Hell," Elvis Presley: dialogue from live bootleg, "Ol MacDonald" and "Little Less Conversation," Mojo Nixon "Elvis Is Everywhere," "Night of the Living Dead" soundtrack, Arrogant Worms "Santa’s Gonna Kick Your Ass," Carl Douglas "Kung Fu Fighting," Bugz In The Attic (feat. Wunmi) "Zombie (Part One)," The Ventures "Man From "UNCLE"

6. Dean Martin "That's Amore," The Meters "Good Ol' Funky Music," intro: Vicki PeopleLikeUs' aunties

7. Lady Gaga "Poker Face," World Series Of Poker ads, "One Note Samba" Walter Wonderly, Perrey & Kingsley

8. Stevie Wonder "Superstitous," "James Bond Theme" Moby, John Barry

9. Mel Torme "Secret Agent Man," Fatboy Slim "Weapon of Choice," Shirley Bassey "Goldfinger," EU "Da Butt," Dennis Coffey "Scorpio," Ricky Martin "La Vida Loca"

10. Enoch Light & His Light Brigade "Hernando's Hideaway," Fatboy Slim "Big Beat Souffle," Perrey & Kingsley "Strangers In The Night," Magnavox stereo checkout record

11. Led Zeppelin "No Quarter," Nancy Sinatra "Lies," Vox wah-wah pedal ads

12. Ella Fitzgerald "Puttin' On The Ritz," Claus Ogerman "Stingray," KXXK jingle

13. Stagga "Timewarp Dub," numerous Louis Prima songs, e.g.: "Just A Gigalo," Hunter S. Thompson "One Toke Over The Line: Abbe Lane at the Desert Inn. Louis Prima, Stardust," "Surreal Vegas" video by

14. NPR radio: "Behind Closed Doors - The Reality of Prostitution," Liberace "Arruba Liberace," George Liberace "George Liberace Mambo," Liberace Christmas message, "Surreal Vegas" video -, Da Lata "Ponteio (Bonus Beats)"

15. The Nutty Squirrels "Uh Oh! pt2," Jurassic 5 "Lesson 6 - The Lecture," "Oswald The Rabbit" (old kiddie record), bits of: Led Zeppelin "Whole Lotta Love," Frank Sinatra "New York New York," Bonzo Dog Band "Jollity Farm" (piano intro), KRS-ONE "HipHop vs Rap," Bob Thompson Orchestra & Chorus "Playboy"

16.Flipper "Sex Bomb", Tom Jones "Sex Bomb"

And remember: the password is "beatnik."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Pete Warren & Matt Samolis' album "Bowed Metal Music" does what it says on the tin. The two Bostonions apply heavy-duty bows not to violins, but to cymbals and metal rods, creating a loud powerful strain of ambient music that wouldn't be out of place in a David Lynch soundtrack.

The whooshes, screeches, and hypnotic drones suggest a decayed "Blade Runner"-esque urban wasteland - somewhat dark, but fascinating and quite beautiful. T
he soundscapes on the dynamic duo's album, which features no other instruments besides the bowed metal, are accessible and highly listenable even to those not usually inclined to listen to industrial "noise" music.

Pete Warren & Matt Samolis:
"Bowed Metal Music (excerpt)"


Saturday, May 16, 2009


The late, Los Angeles-based composer Ron George recorded one album before he died in 2006. It features his own invention, the Tambellan, which, as this article says, " a modular percussion instrument that consists of a large array of tubular keyboards, disc gongs, tam tams, bell plates, bells of various sizes, bamboo keyboards, tunable tube drums and an assortment of Western percussion instruments."

Damn, which I could have seen this wondrous-looking contraption in concert, especially since I live here in LA where he occasionally performed. Well, at least Innova Music has released "The Floating Bubble," the title track of which is George's own composition which beautifully showcases the instrument. This excerpt begins with shimmering angelic bells tolling across an alien landscape, before becoming increasing energtic, melodic, and hypnotically rhythmic.

Ron George: "The Floating Bubble (excerpt)"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


As we continue our survey of releases on the Innova Music label... New Yorker Judy Dunaway makes music with balloons. If you're like me, you're first response to that might be: "Huh, wha...?" whilst cocking your head like a confused puppy. But, as Dunaway's liner notes point out, balloons have been used in music since at least the '60s. Avant-jazz cat Anthony Braxton even wrote a piece for 250 ballooons divided among 15 musicians.

Dunaway's album title could describe her as well: "Mother of Balloon Music." Throughout it's six pieces she not only rubs ballons, but she releases air from them, and
"prepares" other instruments by placing them under the strings. It's all quite wonderfully weird, playful, and funny, in stark contrast to her dead-serious political justifications for using balloons, somehow relating her choice of musical instrument to fighting off oppression and sexism. What?! I read her notes thinking: "You gotta be kidding. 'Take that, Mr. Misogynist Slave-Master Pope, I've got BALLOONS!'" She also claims in her notes that Joan of Arc was transgendered (?!), and challenges the Western classical music hegemeny, even tho she acknowledges that the post-Cage music scene has thrown off that mantle long ago.

And yet every thing about her music career suggest classical orthodoxy, from her academic background, to her choice of writing for string quartets, and compositional modes like "etudes," to her intellectual theorizing. Come on Judy, lighten up - they're balloons! Making music with balloons is silly, in the best possible way. They make funny, flatulent sounds. If you really want to throw off the oppressive Dead White European Male traditions, you should have fun with this. Call yourself Balloonzo The Clown or something. Perform on a unicycle. Anyway. Very inventive stuff, recommended, and dig this wild and woozy mp3 that sounds like the chugging strings from Hermann's "Psycho" soundtrack goofed up on cough syrup:

Judy Dunaway: "
For Balloon and String Quartet - Second Movement" (excerpt)

Friday, May 08, 2009


In the '60s and '70s, an old-time-radio enthusiast with a thick New Yawk accent named Judson Fountain almost single-handedly created audio dramas (or "drammers," as his announcer/co-star Sandor Weisberger would say.) Using a variety of voices (old hag, insolent young punk, cranky old man), and frequently helping himself to sound effects records and canned music, Fountain spun tales of terror that weren't very terrifying. Actually, they were often hilarious, as well as providing a fascinating peek into one man's obsession.

His private-press records were sent out to radio stations across the country and, incredibly, got some airplay, despite the non-existant production values, amateurish acting, and simplistic stories. Heck, I'd have played 'em. They certainly have plenty of entertainment value, and thanks to reissue co-producer Irwin Chusid of WFMU you can play 'em too: there are two CDs of his collected radio "drammers." These excerpts are taken from the album "Dark Dark Dark Tales (and other Dark Tales!)." Outsider-art essentials.

Judson Fountain: "The Gorgon's Head " (excerpt)

No, I don't know why one character has a German (?) accent, but no-one else in the family does...

Sadly, after Judson (with Sandor) made an appearance on WFMU in 1996 (documented on this album), he disappeared, never to be heard from again. A suitably mysterious end to a life dedicated to mystery.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Dutch composer Jacob TV writes brilliant original music based around the sounds of human voices. On the album Pitch Black, performed by the all-sax Prism Quartet, samples of interviews with jazz giants Chet Baker and Billie Holiday, an angry street preacher, an 18 month old girl, and an actor reading a Blake poem all help to create energetic, tuneful, Steve Reich-ian music, inspired by jazz, rock, and hip-hop as much as by Minimalism.

He doesn't just drop samples over the music willy-nilly, but rather writes melodies around the contours of the human speaking voice, reminiscent of
Scott Johnson, or (again) Reich works such as "Different Trains."

But I was especially excited to see that he sampled "Scared Straight." Hell, yeah! Anyone else remember that show? Real incarcerated criminals screaming at wayward kids about the harsh realities of prison life. Swearing on TV! And our mothers let us, wanted us to watch it.

Jacob TV/Prism Quartet: "
Grab It! (excerpt)"

The only non-sample based work is a somber, moving, anti-war elegy. Top-notch stuff, all around.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


I've reviewed many releases on Mullatta Records, "Purveyors of the Unique and the Bizarre," but for the next week or so I'll be aiming the spotlight on Innova, a label that should be of intense interest to anyone with an interest in unusual non-mainstream musics. Having spent a lot of time with Innova releases recently, I can tell you that the high quality level is matched only by the fearless originality of it's music.

I love it when someones breathes new life into an antique "obsolete" instrument or musical form, and that's exactly what John Morton does on his 2001 debut "Outlier." It's subtitle tells all: "New Music For Music Boxes." Yep, music boxes - those wind-up tinkly-sounding things your grandmother has in her living room. Maybe with a twirling ballerina doll atop.

Morton breaks into music boxes and messes with the machinery, creating a surprising variety of sounds and moods. Sometimes they plink and plunk like an African "thumb piano," sometimes they're electronically treated to create abstract ambient, sometimes they're put thru distortion, suggesting grandma is a headbanger. One piece "White Tara," for sax, upright bass, and music box, is a gorgeous melancholy jazz ballad. In all these pieces, the wiff of haunted memories and childhood nostalgia is never far away.

This excerpt suggests a music box that has been dropped, and stepped on by the grandkids, it's lopsided rhythms creating compelling, somewhat spooky melodies that dramatically build.

John Morton: "A Delicate Road III (excerpt)"

Morton's follow-up
"Solo Traveler" features an instrument described as "a set of 17 recomposed and altered music boxes." Needless to say, I have got to hear that one as well.

Friday, May 01, 2009


...the debut album by Holly Yarbrough,

Mr Rogers Swings!"

Yep, jazzy versions of the songs from America's most beloved kiddie show host. Lovely. Quite funny, of course, but very nicely done.

Holly Yarbrough:
Won't You Be My Neighbor

Actually, Ms Yarbrough has sung with her father Glenn, the famous '60s folkie, but this is her solo debut.

And for a fascinating blog dedicated to all things Mister Rogers, proceed immediately to
The Neighborhood Archive.

Thanks again to solcofn!