Happy almost-September, everyone. I had a whole bunch of folks guessing where I was going to go with the September song challenge, so I’ve decided to throw a curve-ball and raise the stakes. I give you:
THE “NOT FROM THE 80’s” SONG-A-DAY CHALLENGE.
Will this one be more difficult? Probably. For a lot of folks playing along, the 80’s was a unifying time of (some would say obnoxious) monoculture, and honestly, a few of these clues apply to more than one song released during that decade. It was a funny revelation coming over drinks from a former colleague who came of age in the 80’s just how overplayed so many currently-beloved songs were. I mentioned how I had rediscovered Tears for Fears, and she said, because she was a teenager in the 80’s and forced to hear “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” 11 times per day, she can’t listen to them anymore.
The only rule for this month is somewhat straightforward: Your song cannot be released between January 1, 1980 and December 31, 1989. Everything else is fair game. Granted, covers released in a later decade are technically cheating, but I can’t tell you how to live. Save it, share it, and don’t forget to hashtag it #NotFromthe80s. Have fun! Special thanks to Lisa LaDuca for her numerous assists with this one.
I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it also influenced me to revisit REM’s early and mid-era catalog on vinyl, which is always enjoyable. I had overlooked the second side of Murmur for so long! Anyway, here are my song choices from this month’s challenge. The matrix, for reference:
Worriers – “End of the World” (song of 2020)
The Aquabats – “Pool Party” (it was a cool party)
Cee-Lo Green – “The Art of Noise”
Pinback – “How We Breathe”
Herbie Hancock – “Chameleon”
Common – “The Corner (feat. The Last Poets)”
Jessie Ware – “Spotlight”
Mrs. Magician – “There is No God”
Def Leppard – “Stand Up (Kick Love Into Motion)”
Frodus – “The Day Buildings Mysteriously Vanished”
Prefab Sprout – “Moving the River”
Dan Deacon – “Wham City”
Andrew W.K. – “I Get Wet”
Travis – “Flowers in the Window”
Goldfinger – “Superman”
Grandaddy – “El Caminos in the West”
The Dead Milkmen – “Watching Scotty Die”
Orange Juice – “Falling and Laughing”
The Ramones – “Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La)”
Meat Loaf – “Everything Louder than Everything Else”
Snapcase – “Bleeding Orange”
LL Cool J – “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”
Sick of It All – “Clobberin’ Time”
Buzzcocks – “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”
Deftones – “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away)”
The Replacement – “A Little Mascara”
Cock Sparrer – “Working”
Sunny Day Real Estate – “In Circles”
Husker Du – “I Apologize”
Ruth – “Polaroid Romain Photo”
Because I can’t stop won’t stop (procrastinating), you’re all getting a challenge for September, too. I am going to try to keep grinding one out for every month the US is in “quarantine” due to COVID, so you can all look forward to another year or so of these!
[cue bitter sobbing]
Anyway, tune in tomorrow at 9AM Eastern for that, and don’t forget to tell a friend or two or however many the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram algorithms allow to see your posts (probably around 2).
On a related note, here is your Song Challenge for August, everybody.
There’s only one rule, and it’s pretty obvious. Download it, share it, hashtag it #NotbyREM, tell all your Gen-X friends (as well as those from other generations), call me a leper, and have a great time. Bonus points to anyone who still picks a song with Peter Buck on it, somehow.
At the outset, this one got even more traction than the Sonic Geography Song Challenge did when I released it via social media. I’m not sure what they says about the world of Sonic Geography, but I’m willing to accept the reality that Billy Joel’s music has more mass appeal than my research. Crazy, I know (I may be, too).
Anyway, here are the results from my own take on the challenge. In all honesty, I hadn’t queued up so many results in my head as I was writing it as I did with the other one in May.
Pixies – “Tony’s Theme”
The Spinto Band – “Brown Boxes”
The Dismemberment Plan – “Girl O’Clock”
The Afghan Whigs – “Uptown Again”
The Housemartins – “Build”
Descendents – “Weinerschnitzel”
Bill Evans – “Lucky to be Me”
F.Y.P. – “Die Young”
Bob Dylan – “The Hurricane”
Minor Threat – “Cashing In”
The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
Lifetime – “Airport Monday Morning”
Minutemen – “History Lesson Part II”
Jawbreaker – “Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault”
The Ergs – “Books About Miles Davis”
Hunx & his Punx – “You Don’t Like Rock n’ Roll”
Julia Jacklin – “Pressure to Party”
The Jesus & Mary Chain – “Nine Million Rainy Days”
Sick of it All – “My Life”
Sunny Day Real Estate – “Pillars”
The Bloodhound Gang – “Fire Water Burn”
Replacements – “Love Lines”
Misfits – “Bullitt”
Minutemen – “Viet Nam”
Pulp – “Sorted for E’s and Wizz”
Throwing Muses – “Walking in the Dark”
Chumbawamba – “Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire”
Zwan – “Honestly”
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
De La Soul – “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays'”
Thanks for reading and/or playing. Tune back in tomorrow morning at 9am EST for the August Challenge!
Happy Sunday, everyone. This week, I’ve got a handful of food-for-thought type links, but first I’m excited to share an episode of a recent podcast appearance.
I sat down (digitally, trans-Atlantically) with Andrea Cetrulo of Theatrum Mundi, who recently started a podcast miniseries about art created in isolation, fitting in with our current collective situation. I had the opportunity to talk about Jeff Rosenstock, Mike Skinner (aka The Streets), The Mountain Goats, and (by virtue of Powder Burns being a great post-Katrina survival document) the Twilight Singers. I would embed the Soundcloud file, but WordPress doesn’t make it easy to do that, so LISTEN TO IT HERE.
In other content, here’s an article I enjoyed from WBUR (Boston’s Public Radio affiliate) asking serious questions about how long it will take the concert industry to recover from the COVID lock-downs. Hint: It’s a long, long time, and like other sane Americans, I’m okay with that.
In other other content, for those interested in the early history of disco music, a friend from Knoxville recently found out about how Don Fendley returned from New York and founded an unincorporated community called Disco, TN? I may be distorting the reality; the retrospective tribute and story are here.
In other other content, some friends of mine from Ohio staged a live reading of The Big Lebowski (1997) via Zoom recently. It’s nowhere near my favorite Coen Brothers film, but it’s certainly a fun new way to take in the movie.
A mix so good that the algorithm flagged me at least twice while I was broadcasting the records on Instagram Live! My favorite band of all time (depending on the day you ask me), and certainly the band I traveled the farthest (and spent the most money, but that’s beside the point) to see.
This mix includes a few of my favorite deep cuts, a handful of hits (and variations on hits), and interesting b-sides (for being the best British guitar pop band since the Kinks, Blur had a relatively weak b-side catalog). I’d like to think it shows off a solid handful of the band’s eclectic catalog of strengths. Either way, it’s a fun way to spend an hour. I’m kind of amazed I forgot to play “End of a Century,” though.
Happy Friday and Happy May, everyone. I was particularly inspired by the 30 Day Song Challenge that made its rounds on social media over the past month, so I decided to put my own (predominantly) geographic version together. Download the image below onto your phone/computer and post it each of the next thirty days (I know May has 31 days, but there were only room for 30) with a song that each cue brings to mind. Popular formats are via Instagram Stories and via Twitter (sharing YouTube links).
If you’d like, share it with the extensive hashtag #SonicGeographySongChallenge so I can see what you pick! I’ll share my full song list after the 30 days are over. Remember you can start this whenever you’d like and complete it (or not) at your own pace. Most importantly, have fun and let me know how you enjoy it.
Happy Wednesday, everyone, or as they say to the Brits and Americans who consistently flood Paris, Happy Wednesday! This week, we’ll be grabbing our cans of spray paint, hopping on nos vélos, and setting off on a journey of découverte.
This week’s mix is a curious bunch of vinyl I’ve acquired on a few trips overseas, with a few key exceptions of rare finds in the US. I tried to include a multitude of songs sung in French, though it was a challenge since so many punk and hardcore songs are recorded in English. French is a language best suited for hip-hop flow and chansons, where English tends to fit with punchier, more aggressive music. As a linguistics nerd, I enjoy this weird binary.
One of the threads that ran through a bunch of my interviews with French collaborators for Capitals of Punk was how France has always felt “late to the party” within pop music (especially rock and punk) among Western countries. This dynamic is what makes French pop music so interesting to me, especially that which is produced with no consideration of the all-powerful English-language tunes, or even that which is produced in direct resistance to the Anglo-American cultural dominance.
I hope you enjoy the variety of material you’re about to hear! I’m also excited to make an announcement on Your Sonic Sunday this coming weekend that is intimately related to this week’s Sonic Geography Mix. Sorry I missed this last Sunday. Sixteen straight Sundays to kick off 2020 wasn’t a bad run.
Funeral Service (Riems) – “Pills”
Schlitz (Paris) – “Destroy Babylon” (from Wondawful World 7″)
Too Much (I have no clue) – “Silex Pistols” (from the Born Bad French Punxploitation LP)
Kromozom 4 (Paris) – “La Tuture” (from 7″ split with Heimat-Los, which I found in Knoxville, of all places)
Baton Rouge (Lyon) – “D’Année en Année”
Sport (Lyon) – “Eric Tabarly” (LP bought at FEST 14)
Maladroit (Paris) – “She Spent Valentine’s Day on her iPhone” (from 7″ split with Teenage Bubblegums)
Kimmo (Paris) – “Clac Son”
Frustration (Paris) – “Artists Suck!”
Buried Option (Orléans) – “Mandrake Falls”
Sunsick (Marseille) – “Holidays”
Telephone (Paris) – “Regarde Moi”
Berurier Noir (Paris) – “Hèlene et le Sang” (from Concerto Pour Détraques reissue LP)
Computerstaat (Paris) – “Crypt” (some cold wave for your souls)
Starshooter (Lyon) – “Betsy Party”
Thrashington D.C. (Brest) – “Banned in B.M.O.”
Metal Urbain (Paris) – “Panik” (Punk française starts here)
Sherwood (Paris) – “Le Bourgeois”
Watermane (Montpellier) – “Greetings from the Basements”
Ferry “Rock” Berendse (Weird story/Indonesian born) – “Rock and Roll Mops” (off the Born Bad Record early French R&R comp)
Amanda Woodward (Caen) – “Pleine de Grâce”
Edith Piaf (Omnipresent) – “Mon Manège À Moi (Tu Me Fais Tourner La Tête)”
Sooner than later, I will post my third and final update from my Summer 2019 trip to Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand, thereby setting a new record for longest-delayed update from the road. I actually came close a few weeks ago, but I forgot. Maybe I was distracted. Maybe it’s quarantine. But, it’s coming.
For now, enjoy this vinyl mega-mix I did of Australian records that purchased in Australia (with a few exceptions, noted in parentheses).
The Gooch Palms (Melbourne) – “Living Room Bop” (purchased from the band at the Fort Sanders Yacht Club)
Dr. Raju (Sydney) – “Don’t Wanna Know” (found at Toxic Toast Records in LBC)
The Riptides (Brisbane) – “Riptide”
The Hummingbirds (Sydney)- “Blush”
Camp Cope (Melbourne) – “Footscray Station”
Brain Children (Melbourne) – “Future Flights”
Thigh Master (Brisbane) – “Company”
The Eyes (???) – “Get it Strait” (b-side of ‘City Livin’ EP)
The Triffids (Perth) – “Estuary Bed”
Royal Headache (Sydney) – “High”
Pinch Hitter (Sydney) – “Nine to Fine”
Swirl (Sydney) – “People I Know”
The Go-Betweens (Brisbane) – “Head Full of Steam” (I think I found this in Urbana, IL, a week after returning to the States)
The Smith Street Band (Melbourne) – “Birthdays”
Nova Scotia (Brisbane) – “Don’t Forget Your Lunchbox”
Money for Rope (Melbourne) – “Hole Like You”
The Newsletters (Melbourne) – “Don’t Let Me Walk Away”
Hungry Lungs (Cairns) – “A Mile Away”
AC/DC (Bon Scott RIP) – “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” (purchased somewhere in North America)
People enjoy ragging on Florida (often, with good reasons), but I refuse to add fuel to that fire. Now, I’m not defending any of the developmental phenomena behind the state (I caught myself describing the Sunshine State as a “pile of gated communities, plus Lil Jon” in a chat with friends last night, which I know isn’t fair… Lil Jon is more into Vegas these days), but I love it regardless. As a child, I had the good fortune of basking in the dying embers of the golden age of Jewish Miami – I ate at the Rascal House, wandered around South Beach, and if my sister and I were good, our parents would haul us up to the Orlando region for a day with Mickey. Of course, there are so many non-tourism facets to Florida that deserve love and attention – the amazing flora and fauna, the crazy pre-Disney history (including a 1920’s land-grab that culminated with one major developer disappearing), and so much punk rock that’s equal parts scruffy, high-octane, and sentimental.
That latter point informs much of this week’s playlist, which I compiled from a pile of 7-inches and 10-inch records, with an LP reissue or two (plus an indispensable Florida Folklife compilation) mixed in for good measure. I hope you enjoy it and remember, as Radon once said, “there’s unlimited sunshine in a bottle of Tropicana.”
Transmissions from Cape Canaveral (John Glenn’s first manned Space Flight)
Merchandise (Tampa) – “I Locked the Door”
Rational Anthem (Sarasota) – “Just Shrug”
Against Me! (Gainesville) – “Sink, Florida, Sink” (7″ version)
Emmett Murray (Pahokee) – “She’s a Fool, She Ain’t Got No Sense” (Drop on Down in Florida 2xLP!)
This Bike is a Pipe Bomb (Pensacola) – “The Black Panther Song”
Spoke (Gainesville) – “Descant”
Discount (Vero Beach) – “Disappointed”
Less Than Jake (Gainesville) – “Dopeman” (b-side to the “Johnny Quest” jukebox 45)
King Friday (Miami) – “North Carolina” (original No Idea 7″)
DieAlps! (Tampa) – “Invincible”
Torche (Miami) – “Loose Men”
Radon (Gainesville) – “Headaches and Bullshit”
Sloane Peterson (Miami) – “Tired Eyes”
LOAD (Miami) – “Pastor’s Day”
Death (Orlando) – “Mutilation”
As Friends Rust (Gainesville) – “Scapegoat Wets the Whistle”
Pohgoh (Tampa) – “Kandy Koated Cisses”
Hot Water Music (Gainesville) – “Moonpies for Misfits”
The Tim Version (Tampa) – “1916”
Little League (Tallahassee) – “Fuck Off and Write a Song about It”
A New Found Glory (Coral Gables) – “My Friends Over You”
Despite owning this 7-inch, I didn’t play anything from it. Strange.