Sonic Geography Episode 1 (Free for All)

I did my first Instagram Live DJ set last night, and shockingly, the feed didn’t go down once. Thank you to everyone who tuned in, and if you missed it, here is the audio mixdown and the playlist. It was clearly a directionless free-for-all while I was working out the technical aspects of the “show,” but I’ll still include places of origin and any ancillary notes in the playlist.

Sonic Geography Ep. 1 [03.25.20]

  1. The Housemartins (Hull) – “Anxious” (from NME giveaway 7″)
  2. Ernie K-Doe (New Orleans) – “Mother-in-Law” (Allen Touissant song from a 1986 Minit Records comp)
  3. The Bartlebees (Munich) – “Holidays at the Zoo”
  4. Booker T. and the MG’s (Memphis) – “Hip-Hug-Her”
  5. The Wildweeds – “No Good to Cry” (original, dusty 7″ I found at the Porte du Montreuil flea market)
  6. Gin Blossoms (Tempe) – “Hey Jealousy” (jukebox 7″, dedicated to all the 90’s kids)
  7. The Go-Betweens (Brisbane) – “Right Here” (12″ single)
  8. The Clash (London) – “Bankrobber” (7″ version)
  9. Lord Antics (Montego Bay) – “Split Me in Two”
  10. Ron Holden (Seattle) – “My Babe”
  11. The Jesus & Mary Chain (East Kilbride) – “Everything’s Alright When You’re Down”
  12. The Ambulars (DC) – “Marielle and Ferdinand”
  13. White Murder (Long Beach) – “The Tell-All”
  14. Unrest (DC) – “Make Out Club”
  15. Radon (Gainesville) – “Facial Disobedience”
  16. Pohgoh (Tampa) – “Tired Ear”  (clear reissue LP by New Granada)
  17. Suede (London) – “Hit Me” (from 2x 7″)
  18. Black Kids – “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You” (original 10″ demo version, aka the good one)
  19. The Strokes (NYC) – “12:51”
  20. The Vitreous Humor (Topeka) – “Why Are You So Mean To Me?”
  21. They Might Be Giants (Lincoln, MA via NYC) – “Why Does the Sun Shine?” (7″ version)
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The Vitreous Humor (via Danny Pound’s bandcamp)

Stay-Home Sonic Sunday II: Whatever Did Happen to Your Soul?

When I resolved to start weekly entries built mainly around web clips, I assumed I (and humankind) would have a lot more going on. Fortunately,  the internet is a gift that keeps on giving. Here are some good corners of it:

To wrap this up, I’ll share a song that helped me out a lot earlier this week. It’s the second track (and possibly my favorite) on The Afghan Whigs’ 1965, one of my favorite albums of all time. I was sitting at home for what was going to be the first of an indeterminate number of nights at home, feeling a bit of anxiety, when this came on, and put me in a better place. Hopefully it does the same for you. Talk to you all soon.

 

 

Your Sonic Sunday Clips 01.19.20 (Vaporwave, Media Geography, Zombies, a Wurlizter Jukebox)

Happy Sunday! Here are a few items of interest to end your weekend and start off your week.

  • evolution__and_life_in_vaporwave_flavours._48475685782Vaporwave
    A widely enjoyed (for good reason) yet little documented (for various reasons) internet subculture gets an in-depth interview in ASAP Journal. Ross Coll (University of Cambridge) chats with Strawberry Illuminati. I learned a lot. I also learned that Grafton Tanner wrote a whole book on Vaporwave recently.
  • Media & Communication Geography Group Paper Awards
    I’m happy to share an announcement on behalf of my friend Emily Fekete, who was chair of the group when they sponsored my Q&A session with Ian MacKaye last year. They just opened submissions for the AAG 2020 paper awards for students (undergrad or grad), and all the details can be found on their wixsite. Deadline 3/1/20.
  • The Sanity Assassins
    Over the years, I’ve discovered my cousin’s old band The Sanity Assassins on a litany of cassette comps in Europe and split 7″s records scattered all over the US. They existed for much of the 80’s and 90’s in various incarnations, all based in the Hartford area, before retiring and reemerging as The Atomic Buddha sometime in the early 2000’s. Somebody has posted a compilation of their 90’s recordings on Bandcamp, and it’s available as a free download. Highly recommended for fans of Naked Raygun, D.O.A. and other thrash-infected punk.
  • Sonic Scope (New Student Journal)
    Via Kimi Kårki: We invite students to join our online community by submitting papers for peer-review (any length up to 12,000 words), video essays (up to 15 minutes) and practice-based research (in any form), but also to participate in interactive discussion spaces and blog debates. Each issue will begin with a Call and Response. Our first question has been proposed by Henry Jenkins and we invite students to respond in any form: text, drawing, animation, sound, video, performance, poetry, comic-strip, anything!
  • New Academic Pub: The Zombie Reader, Kieran Murphy (Ed.)
    This looks fun.
  • Wurlizter Jukebox for Sale! (Knoxville)
    That’s right – a true legend, the Wurlitzer 1050, with a refurbished amp, is on the market, in case any of you are having a good year wallet-wise and also live on a first floor or have an elevator! Also, if you have the means to transport the thing safely from downtown Knoxville, TN. I would absolutely jump on this if I could. Contact my friend Julie if you’re interested, and tell her I sent you: 608-432-JUKE.

The Decade in Music

In case anybody cares…. [deep breath]:

SonicGeography: 10 Favorite Records of the Decade

MY 10 FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE 2010’S

  1. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2011, Swami)
  2. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  3. Daddy Issues – Deep Dream (2017, Infinity Cat)
  4. Daughters – You Won’t Get What You Want (2018, Ipecac)
  5. Suede – Night Thoughts (2016, Warner Music UK)
  6. Touché Amoré – Stage Four (2016, Epitaph)
  7. Makthaverskan – II (2015, Run for Cover)
  8. Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City (2012, Top Dawg)
  9. Rival Schools – Pedals (2010, Photo Finish)
  10. Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (2012, Fool’s Gold)

(And While We’re Here… my REDUX Top Ten Albums of the Century)

  1. Good Luck – Into Lake Griffy (2008, No Idea)
  2. The Twilight Singers – Blackberry Belle (2004, One Little Indian)
  3. Frodus – And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea (2001, Fueled by Ramen)
  4. Blur – Think Tank (2003, EMI)
  5. Mrs. Magician – Strange Heaven (2012, Swami)
  6. Turnover – Peripheral Vision (2015, Run for Cover)
  7. The Ergs! – dorkrockcorkrod (2004, Whoa Oh)
  8. Piebald – We Are the Only Friends That We Have* (2002, Big Wheel Recreation)
  9. Sondre Lerche – Faces Down (2002)
  10. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound* (2008, SideOneDummy)
*This album was released between 2000-2009 but did not appear on my ’25 Albums of the Decade’ list in 2009. I love it now, though.

60 TOP SONGS OF THE DECADE

(Arbitary Rules: One Song per Artist, Nothing from my Top 10 Albums. I linked a bunch of them but I got tired, and I have confidence your collective ability to google.)

  1. Mitski – “Your Best American Girl” (2016)
  2. Robyn – “Dancing on my Own” (2010)
  3. BIG HUGE – “Carnal Pleasure” (2015)
  4. Taylor Swift – “Style” (2014)
  5. Basement – “Crickets Throw Their Voice” (2011)
  6. Ash – “Annabel” (2018)
  7. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Your Type” (2015)
  8. PUP – “DVP” (2016)
  9. The Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” (2010)
  10. The Smith Street Band – “Ducks Fly Together” (2013)
  11. Future Islands – “Vireo’s Eye” (2010)
  12. Swearin’ – “Just” (2012)
  13. Blur – “Ong Ong” (2015)
  14. Bob Bucko Jr. – “Heavenly Routine” (2015) – top instrumental
  15. Ex-Gold – “I’m a Man” (2014 technically)
  16. The Varsity Weirdos – “No Life on Planet Mars” (2015)
  17. Ex Hex – “Waterfall” (2014)
  18. White Reaper – “Pills” (2014)
  19. Teenage Bottlerocket – “They Call Me Steve” (2015)
  20. Suede – “It Starts and Ends with You” (2013)
  21. Gorillaz – “On Melancholy Hill” (2010)
  22. Big Boi – “Shutterbugg” (2010)
  23. Merchandise – “True Monument” (2014)
  24. Aesop Rock – “Kirby” (2016)
  25. Direct Hit! – “Werewolf Shame” (2012)
  26. Radon – “Headaches and Bullshit” (2017)
  27. Kanye West – “Runaway” (2010)
  28. Foxing – “The Medic” (2013)
  29. Billy Cobb – “1955” (2018)
  30. Smidley – “Power Word Kill” (2017)
  31. ALVVAYS – “Lollipop (Ode to Jim)” (2018)
  32. The Gaslight Anthem – “’45” (2012)
  33. Kacey Musgraves – “Space Cowboy” (2018)
  34. Jason Derulo – “Want to Want Me” (2015)
  35. Loud Boyz – “4 the Ladies” (2014)
  36. Nothing – “Blue Line Baby” (2018)
  37. Pinback – “Proceed to Memory” (2012)
  38. Mogwai – “We’re Not Done (End Title)” (2018)
  39. Royal Headache – “High” (2016)
  40. Saves the Day – “Beyond All of Time” (2013)
  41. Alex Cameron – “Candy May” (2017)
  42. FIDLAR – “No Waves” (2013)
  43. Paramore – “Rose Colored Boy” (2017)
  44. Teenage Exorcists – “Love Buzz” (2010)
  45. Danny Brown ft. Purity Ring – “25 Bucks” (2014)
  46. Drug Church – “Tillary” (2018)
  47. Against Me! – “Crash” (2016)
  48. Walter Schriefels – “Open Letter” (2010)
  49. The Rentals – “It’s Time to Come Home” (2015)
  50. Sorority Noise – “No Halo” (2017)
  51. Weezer – “California Kids” (2016)
  52. The Sidekicks – “Everything in Twos” (2014)
  53. AJJ – “Kokopelli Face Tattoo” (2014)
  54. Plow United – “Bright Eyes” (2016)
  55. Cullen Omori – “Cinnamon” (2016)
  56. American Football ft. Hayley Williams – “Uncomfortably Numb” (2019)
  57. Hot Chip – “One Life Stand” (2010)
  58. Tender Defender – “FEFE” (2015)
  59. Bleachers – “I Wanna Get Better” (2015)
  60. Post Malone – “Sunflower” (2018)

TEN BEST LIVE PERFORMANCES I SAW THIS DECADE

  1. Davila 666 (Alex’s Bar, Long Beach, 09/09/11)
  2. Lipstick Homicide (Media Club, Vancouver, 07/20/13)
  3. VOIID (The Tote, Melbourne, 7/13/19)
  4. King Kong (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 11/12/2016)
  5. Merchandise (Ace of Cups, Columbus, 6/7/2013)
  6. Direct Hit! (Surprise Gig, Allston, MA, 4/6/17)
  7. The Dismemberment Plan Weekend (Washington, DC, Jan. 2011)
  8. Mdou Moctar (The Pilot Light, Knoxville, 1/13/19)
  9. Hot Chip (Coachella, April 2013)
  10. Ex Hex (Athens PopFest, May 2018)

THREE FAVORITE MUSIC VIDEOS

Dan Deacon – ‘True Thrush’ (2012)

Suede – ‘Life is Golden’ (2018)

Julien Baker – ‘Sprained Ankle’ (2015)

 

 

 

“13” Turns Twenty

13_28blur_album_-_cover_art29Happy Friday, everyone. I recently noticed that Blur’s everything-falls-apart masterpiece “13” came out twenty years ago today (March 30 in the States, to split hairs). I’d be remiss if I let that landmark slip by without mention here, because I completely missed the anniversary of their self-titled album (my entry point as a fan) two years ago.

Blur’s mid-90’s rivalry with Oasis (manufactured as it was to sell copies of NME), formulates one of my favorite lectures I include in my European Geography (GEOG 371) course. Popular culture reinforces geographic assumptions, especially the sense of place that permeates any discussion of “the North” and “the South” in England. Not since The Beatles vs. The Kinks had there been such a raw encapsulation of that dichotomy. For the record, I do prefer The Kinks, too (and not because of any predilection for Southern England; I just enjoy their music more than most bands in the first place).

Anyway, in 1997, Blur were shedding their Britpop skin and embracing Graham Coxon’s love of American indie rock, perhaps best manifested as the wonderful “You’re So Great.” As I said, Blur was my entry point as a fan, so I didn’t fall in love with the band’s foppish (in a self-aware way) era. Like many of my friends who were listening in this era, I remember being less enthused at 13 when it landed in 1999. “Coffee & TV” felt like the only marginally accessible song on the album, which didn’t matter much to critics, but to a teenage American, it felt like a bit of an affront. I recall putting the CD on at some friends’ house in Syracuse while we sat around as a party dwindled; by the time “1992” got to it’s third-level of noise, walked over to the boombox and turned to me and said “I’m, uh, gonna change it.” If you want to get a decent impression, feast your brain on this:

Knowing what we know now, though, makes the accomplishments of 13 all that more remarkable. Namely, the band had long since shed any sonic accouterments of what had ostensibly made them huge, defied every music writer in the UK, and more or less entered into the worst collective period of their lives. Again, I was too young and under-educated in life to recognize half of this album as a heady mix of cries for help and the other half as gleeful conflagration of their rental castle-mansions. I’ll never forget reading a story on Blur in SPIN in the wake of the trans-Atlantic success of “Song 2” that really harped on how much the members hated one another. It seemed pretty sensationalized (because it was), but I can only imagine how much resolve it took the four of them to remain a band. In 1997, Graham Coxon sang that “DT’s [delirium tremens] and coffee helps to start the day,” and in 1999 he sang “sociability is hard enough for me” to chronicle a years-long battle to overcome alcoholism. “Coffee & TV” sounded convincing enough, and one of the all-time great videos to dramatize his ‘coming home’ certainly helped this case. Stateside, it remains in contention against “Girls and Boys” for the vaunted title of ‘Blur’s most successful single that doesn’t go “WOO-HOO.”‘

Anyway, since it’s 2019, there are a multitude of ways to hear 13 in its entirety if you’re interested in doing that today. Twenty years ago, Blur played most of the album live at the Hippodrome Theater in London, and a fan named Claire Welles taped the gig off the radio. A little over a year ago, she digitized it on YouTube. Considering the teeming oceans of Blur material on the site, it’s only accrued 556 views so far. I’ll embed it here if you’d like to add to that count.

One dynamic that I can’t get out of my head while listening to this was how so many of those cheering fans, like so much of Britain on BBC1, were hearing songs like “Trailerpark” and “Battle” for the first time ever. I believe that Napster, Limewire, and Kazaa were all active by this point, which had fundamentally changed the lifespan of anticipated music’s release. Gone were the days of that hot new single arriving at the BBC on a CD encased in some briefcase with a combination lock.

Damon Albarn, right on brand, didn’t sound too enthused to be performing these songs, but again, the fact that the band still existed in 1999 was remarkable. Considering the worldwide success Albarn had waiting in the rafters with James Hewlett at this point, it’s even more understandable that it feels like he’s punching the clock here. Still, you can’t help but imagine he begrudgingly knew how insane and special this new album was. And no matter what your feelings are on Albarn, he headlined Glastonbury two years back-to-back (2009-2010) with two different bands.

Alright, I’ve said enough. Happy 20th anniversary to 13, hope you all have a great weekend, and if you’re anywhere near Oak Ridge tomorrow night (Saturday 3.16) come see me and Nina Fefferman (UTK Evolutionary Biology) talking science with comedians Shane Mauss and Dave Waite at the Grove Theater. It’s close to selling out, but there may be tickets for sale at the door!  More info in my previous entry or at Shane Mauss’ site here.

Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

It feels strange to be posting this so far away from the land of Norman Rockwell (Western Massachusetts, where I traditionally spend this holiday), but I’m grateful nonetheless to be able to spend the week with family and friends. No matter where I am in the country, this is always my favorite part of the year.

Considering how 2018 has been a tragic year for so many and difficult for most, I hope that this holiday (still my favorite one) gives you all an opportunity to take stock of everything good in your life and prepare for whatever you have coming up in December. At the very least, I’ve got a few posts sitting in my drafts that I’ll hopefully get up before the Winter break.

Take care of yourselves and each other!