Monday, March 30, 2009

The rockist's arithmetic; subtraction, to be specific

2 Live Crew – As Clean As They Wanna Be
AC/DC – Back in Black
AC/DC – For Those About To Rock
AC/DC – Highway to Hell
Agnostic Front – Cause for Alarm
Animal Collective – FEELS
Aphrodite’s Child – 666
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Aretha Franklin – Amazing Grace
Arthur Russell – World of Echo
The Beatles – The Beatles
The Bee Gees – Best of the Bee Gees, Volume 1
Ben Folds Five – The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
Big Country – The Crossing
Bill Fox – Transit Byzantium
Black Uhuru - Showcase
Bob Dylan – Self Portrait
Bob Dylan – Time Out of Mind
Britney Spears – Blackout
Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on the Edge of Town
The Cars – The Cars
The Chills – Submarine Bells
The Cramps – Songs the Lord Taught Us
Crowded House – Together Alone
Cyndi Lauper – She’s So Unusual
Daft Punk – Discovery
D’Angelo – Voodoo
David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Devo – Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
Digital Underground – Sex Packets
Dinosaur Jr. – You’re Living All Over Me
Donovan – Gift From a Flower to a Garden
Drive-By Truckers – Southern Rock Opera
The Drones – Gala Mill
Duran Duran – Rio
The Eagles – Greatest Hits
ELO – Out of the Blue
Emmylou Harris – Pieces of the Sky
Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun
Fairport Convention – Liege and Lief
The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Fugazi – 13 Songs
Fugazi – In On the Kill Taker
Garth Brooks – (in…) The Life of Chris Gaines
Gary Numan and Tubeway Army – Replicas
Gary Wilson – You Think You Really Know Me
Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Girl Talk – Night Ripper
Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun
Grateful Dead – The Closing of Winterland
Hall and Oates – Rock ‘n’ Soul Part One
Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream and Other Delights
The Hold Steady – Separation Sunday
Husker Du – Zen Arcade
The Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
The Incredible String Band – Wee Tam and the Big Huge
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
J Dilla – Donuts
The Jam – All Mod Cons
Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual
Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy
Jefferson Airplane – Crown of Creation
Jellyfish – Spilt Milk
Jimmy Eat World – Clarity
John Lennon – Live in New York City
Johnny Cash – American Recordings
Kanye West – 808 & Heartbreak
Karen Dalton – In My Own Time
Kiss – Destroyer
The Knack – Get the Knack
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen – Various Positions
Lil’ Wayne – Da Drought 3
Little Feat – Sailin’ Shoes
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville
Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music
Madonna – Ray of Light
Main Source – Breaking Atoms
Manu Chao – Clandestino
Massive Attack – Blue Lines
The Mekons – Fear and Whiskey
The Melvins – Lysol
Metallica – Metallica
Metallica – Master of Puppets
M.I.A. – Kala
The Millennium – Begin
Moby Grape – Moby Grape
Modest Mouse – The Lonesome Crowded West
The Monkees – Head
Mothers of Invention – Freak Out!
The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas
Namco – Katamari Fortissimo Damacy
Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
New Order – Power, Corruption and Lies
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Tender Prey
NWA – Straight Outta Compton
The O’Jays – Back Stabbers
Operation Ivy – Energy
Paul Simon – Graceland
Pearl Jam – Vitalogy
Pere Ubu – Dub Housing
Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
Phil Ochs – Rehearsals for Retirement
Phish – Junta
Phish – Rift
Pink Floyd – The Wall
The Police - Synchronicity
Portishead – Dummy
Public Image Limited – Metal Box
Pussy Galore – Exile on Main Street
Radiohead – Kid A
Rage Against the Macine – Evil Empire
Randy Newman – Good Old Boys
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik
REM – Automatic for the People
The Residents – Commercial Album
Richard Hell and the Voidoids – Blank Generation
The Rolling Stones – Some Girls
Rush – Moving Pictures
Sandy Denny – Sandy
Scott Walker – The Drift
Sleater-Kinney – One Beat
Slint – Spiderland
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians
The Strokes – Is This It
Suicide – Suicide
Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden
Talking Heads – Remain in Light
Television – Marquee Moon
They Might Be Giants – Flood
They Might Be Giants - Lincoln
Townes Van Zandt – Townes Van Zandt
USA for Africa – We Are the World
Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
Various Artists – Dave Godin’s Deep Soul Treasures Vol 1
Various Artists – O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
Various Artists – Reservoir Dogs soundtrack
The Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
Warren Zevon – Warren Zevon
Ween – Chocolate and Cheese
The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Woody Guthrie – Dust Bowl Ballads
X-Ray Spex – Germ Free Adolescents
X – Los Angeles
X – More Fun in the New World
XTC – Wasp Star (Apple Venus Vol 2)
Yoko Ono – Plastic Ono Band
Young Jeezy – Let’s Get It
Young Marble Giants – Colossal Youth
The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

170 albums. Ready to be written up (the story behind, that is). And not too bad a range, either. But this is the long short list. We need a short short list. And that's where the trouble begins.

AC/DC - Highway to Hell
Aretha Franklin - Amazing Grace
The Beatles - The Beatles
Bob Dylan - Time Out of Mind
The Cramps - Songs the Lord Taught Us
David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
Devo - Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo
Dinosaur Jr: You're Living All Over Me
ELO - Out of the Blue
Grateful Dead - Closing of Winterland
Johnny Cash - American Recordings
Kiss - Destroyer
Leonard Cohen - Songs of Leonard Cohen
Lil' Wayne - Da Drought 3
Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Lou Reed - Metal Music Machine
Neil Young - Tonight's the Night
Operation Ivy - Energy
Paul Simon - Graceland
Radiohead - Kid A
Rolling Stones - Some Girls
Slint - Spiderland
Television - Marquee Moon
Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
Ween - Chocolate and Cheese
White Stripes - White Blood Cells
Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth

An odd statement from David a while back was about how each of the long shortlisted came with pitches that had "something" about them. "Enough to make me think they'd make a book worth reading." Which strikes me funny, because first and foremost I'd think the record should make you think there's a book worth reading first. But that's not not quite right, either. There's some kind of middle ground behind popularity, critical response, and back story that come together

Are we saying that the only album stories worth hearing are the classic ones? Outsized, with big set-pieces and unwieldy personalities? Because that seems to run counter to the kind of work such slight but focused books these can be. Why not more of the Jawbreaker's and the Fennesz's and the Britney Spears's of the world? The short short list takes a sliver of radio-approved albums for rockin' dads and their college radio sons. Occam's Razor makes the cut based on economics, obviously, but it still smacks of rockism. Insidiously reinforcing and even growing the canon while still locking the door behind.

Untold stories aren't the only stories worth telling. And if you go back through the list, it's a lot of bands and artists at the forefront of pop-consciousness that get diced. Kiss and their painted antics get the nod, but what about 2 Live Crew? I can only hope that it's the writers that were deemed of poorer quality and not the stories. But even then, I have a hard time imagining why some records were eliminated barring complete incoherency.

Is this pitch and refine method the best way to tell the stories of these records? What if the albums were decided first, and then the writers? A little A&R to cure the A&R blues? And does this alleviate the issues of selective rockism, or just exacerbate it? The 33 1/3 series will by no means be the Library of Alexandria for albums (unless it really wanted to), but there's the potential the potential to produce insightful historical documents of musical and genearl significance makes it too alluring to let it slip into a Rolling Stone pipe dream.

These books are something of a niche market unto themselves, capitalizing on vinyl references and a lot of smart music. They've even got John Darnielle in on the act. And yet one of his records didn't make the cut.

This idea of a fractured culture of niche has been under fire for a while, and it's becoming hard to ignore. A monoculture seems to have reemerged, but one this time with two channels that co-exist: the frivolous single culture that is instantaneous, bloggable, and completely detachable, and the traditional album culture that still warrants journalism with a capital PhD. The difference is that what lies out of the mainstream, or recent memory, has become the Holy Grail more so than the establishment's steady release. Yeah, Bob Dylan, U2, and even Radiohead still get a pass, but it's the bedroom history that's growing in appeal. Hidden secrets aren't any good as hidden secrets anymore. They have to be classics, too.

Lode/Load: March 29, 2009

Deadlines. Why won't they shut up?


Little Lungs | Hoist Me Up! | Salinas | Black
Yo Man Go | Life Lessons | Square of Opposition | Black
Marshall Teller/Halftime Parade | Split | Rok Lok | Black

Condo Fucks | Fuckbook | Matador | Black
Emeralds | Solar Bridge | Hanson | Translucent Blue
Mountain Goats & Kaki King | Black Pear Tree | Cadmean Dawn | Black
Pan American | White Bird Release | Kranky | Black
Polar Bear Club | Sometimes Things Just Disappear | Bridge Nine | Translucent Maroon
Sinaloa | Fathers and Sons | Word Salad | Black | Silkscreened Cover, /100
Third Memory | S/T | Rok Lok/React With Protest/Desertion/Petit Chantier/Sadness of Noise | Black
Bail/Kids Return | Konsortium | Russian Folk Stories | Black

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who're the newest kids on the block? And whose block is it?

Kids today. Teenage Cool Kids are just coppin' style from The Cool Kids. That's the legal argument, at least. Who knows how long that document will stick around, but here's the long and short of it: The Cool Kids own coolness. Period. And don't you dare let your name encroach or confuse those poor fans who are looking for authentic inauthentic-eighties rap with your authentic inauthentic-nineties indie rock. (Serious aside: I'm a fan of both).

I don't think this could've come at a more relevant time when you consider Carles' latest post. If you take the thesis statement - Your band is a meme that generates new submemes for people 2 consume on a regular basis [sic] - and start breaking down the sequence of events, you've got some slam dunk evidence to back it up (as if it was needed).


The Cool Kids are coasting along. Teenage Cool Kids do it big at SXSW. The Cool Kids send a C&D. Teenage Cool Kids post to a message board. Media world picks it up. Hilarity and attention-grabbing ensues. By the way, have you heard about our new record? Coming out soon, check us out on myspace! The ecosystem remains balanced.

Reading over that document, you have to wonder who exactly wrote this. It doesn't have the flow of Mikey or Chuck "just tryna let niggas know who I is," and despite the legalese flourishes, it certainly doesn't have the dry, coherent unintelligibility of a real lawyer. From the overdramatics of the unrelenting ascent to the unfortunate band name misspelling (Cook Kids, guys?), this smells of publicist. Or one attention-whoring Loblaw-at-Law. Meanwhile Teenage Cool Kids keeps it D.I.Y. and mobilizes the base. Nods all around.

This whole thing is going to be a non-issue by the time April Fool's rolls around. How can you really "own" that name? What about Black Kids? Cooler Kids? Hell, weren't the Kids pretty fucking cool? It's a good stunt, one that's going to be entertaining for at least another couple of days, but the armchair lawyers are soon going to be out of a job again.

Pro-tip to bands lookin' for an edge: change your name to The Cook Kids and get a piece of the action.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lode/Load: March 22, 2009

New release season is upon us, and it feels good. And on top of that, I'm fillin' in some holes. Good looks.


V/A | No Bullshit Vol. 1 | No Way | Black


Inmates | Assholes Unanimous Presents... | Painkiller | Pink
Jay, Abner | True Story of... | Mississippi | Black
Limp Wrist | S/T | La Vida Es Un Mus | Black
Mt. Eerie | Dawn | P.W. Elverum & Sun | White
Obits | I Blame You | Sub Pop | Black
Spiritual Singers | Ntsamina | Mississippi | Black

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lode/Load: March 15, 2009

Good weekend, good finds, good mail.


Deep Sleep | Manic Euphoria | Grave Mistake | Translucent Orange
Deep Sleep | Paranoid Futures | Grave Mistake | White
Deep Sleep | You're Screwed | Grave Mistake | Translucent Red
Dum Dum Girls | Long Hair | Hozac | Black | Hookup Klub Record 1
Government Warning | Arrested | Grave Mistake | Black
Gun Outfit | S/T | PPM | Black
Idle Times | Million Miles Away b/w Whatever Works for You | Hozac | Black | Hookup Klub Record 2
Mob Rules | The Donor | Zandor/Super Fi | Black
No System | Dead Bands Tell No Tales | No Way | Black
Time to Escape | S/T | Grave Mistake | Black
Time to Escape | Cost of Living | Grave Mistake | Black
Woven Bones | With You Alone b/w Sitting Sick | Hozac | Black | Hookup Klub Record 3


Black and Whites | S/T | Douchemaster | Black
Cloak/Dagger | We Are... | Grave Mistake/Jade Tree | White
Gray Matter | Food for Thought | Dischord | Black
Gun Outfit | Dim Light | PPM | Black
King Tuff | ...Was Dead | The Colonel | Black
Last Priest | S/T | 16oh | Black
Nation of Ulysses | Plays Pretty for Baby | Dischord | Black
Nation of Ulysses | 13-Point Program to Destroy America | Dischord | Orange
Pocahaunted | Passage | Troubleman Unlimited | Black
Scream | Still Screaming | Dischord | White
Tamaryn | Led Astray Washed Ashore | Troubleman Unlimited | Black
Vivian Girls | Live on the Radio | Troubleman Unlimited | Black
Walls | S/T | Iron Lung | Black One-Sided LP
Zola Jesus | Tsar Bomba | Troubleman Unlimited | Translucent Red | Screened Cover
Faith/Void | Split | Dischord | Translucent Purple

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lode/Load: March 8, 2009


Black Randy and the Metrosquad | Pass the Dust, I Think I'm Bowie | Vinyl Countdown | Black 2xLP
Death | ...For the Whole World to See | Drag City | Black
Food | S/T | Molsook | Black
Hostage Calm | Lens | Redscroll | Translucent Blue/Yellow

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lode/Load: March 1, 2009

Today all I did was eat red velvet cake and watch all three original Star Wars in Greenpoint.


Blank Dogs | Setting Fire to Your House | 4:2:2 | Black


Blank Dogs | Seconds | Captured Tracks | Black | 90/150
Brimstone Howl | Guts of Steel | Alive | Orange
Diane, Alela | To Be Still | Rough Trade | Black 2xLP
Dum Dum Girls | S/T | Captured Tracks | Black
Easter Monkeys | Splendor of Sorrow | Hit & Run | Black
Grimm, Larkin | Parplar | Young God | Black
King Khan & BBQ Show | S/T | In the Red | Black 2xLP
Monks | Black Time | International | Black
Mountain Goats | Sunset Tree | 4AD | Black
Mountain Goats | Tallahassee | 4AD | Black
Mountain Goats | We Shall All Be Healed | Black
Mountains | Choral | Thrill Jockey | Black 2xLP
Pains of Being Pure at Heart | S/T | Slumberland | Black
Songs: Ohia | Didn't It Rain | Secretly Canadian | Black
Songs: Ohia | Ghost Tropic | Secretly Canadian | Black
Vampire Weekend | S/T | XL | Black
Waits, Tom | Rain Dogs | Island | Black