Merchants of Anger

Merchants of anger

See no color

Hear no melody

Offering immediacy

Gritted teeth

Clenched fists

Ease of blame

Vague contours of control

Outlines of outrage

A road of broken concrete

Leading to a tire fire

In their statements

Evidence a faraway promise

If even thought of at all

Profit and power

Wash over them

When they steal your joy

Hollowness aches inside them

Disdain burns in them

For signs of growth or hope

In any of you

I will let you name them

You don’t need me to

Perhaps you scoff at me

Turn to them and indulge

What they offer for a while

To feel something

To fill yourself with

To provide meaning

Despite its acrid foul flavor

I know though

If you pause

You will realize

You are crying

For what you have lost

It is yours to take back

Your mind is forever changing

But that mind is forever yours

Gene G. McLaughlin 2020

Seussian Panglossian

The best of all possible worlds
Weighed among a universe of many
A world of harsh scarcity
In galaxies of both emptiness and plenty

I will take this
It is all I’ve got
We will create this
From something it is not

My optimistic friend
That’s just
Foolish magical thinking
Caused by too many fairy tales
And excessive drinking

My negative compadre
That’s just
An invasive thought
We can make this world better
If we give it all we got

Oh your dreamy wishes
The tools we have are many
Limited by the willingness to work of few
But a garden never tended
Come spring will not renew

Such fearful attitude
That’s just
Plain wrongheaded
It’s the world we’ve got
Why dread it?

Always over reaching
That just too much positivity
The world is clay and layers
Not just what you can see

So it goes with me
Candide and Pangloss
Fates tied together
Realizing there are more
Storms still to weather

Gene G. McLaughlin 2020

Record of the Day 5/18/2020 – Ocean Beach – Red House Painters

I like many records that Mark Kozelek has done over the years. His career has been varied between band projects he was the dominate force in and completely solo projects. I think think the lovely Ocean Beach record is my favorite though. It is a record that I think reproduces the feels of joy and melancholy on an open beach on a windy week day in early summer well. The first three songs on the record (Cabezon, Summer Dress, and San Geronimo) are a perfect opening for the effect the record is trying to produce. They hook you and show you Red House Painters intentions immediately. I find the record somewhat more sincere than Kozelek’s later ironic or absurdist stream of consciousness songs. I love his record Benji, but this early record seems like it was almost from a different person and I suppose being they are about 20 years apparent he likely was.  It is a record I like to put on for a rainy work day, perhaps a Monday, when you might need some vision other than you office.  In my book a classic.




Sometimes I feel that I’m failing

From the weather or a smell in the air

Sometimes I feel that I’m winning

Despite the score showing I’m far from there

Sometimes I grow stronger

From something I decided not to eat

Sometimes a rock in my shoe

Slows the pace of my gate

Sometimes life seems like a deep woe

That I carry upon my soul

Sometimes I’m light as the wind

Endless days with no tire or toll

Today’s maybe somewhere in the middle

Some coffee and rain and some hope

Success and failure are not for this moment

Both lie out of the present’s scope

Gene G. McLaughlin 2020

Record of the Day 5-15-2020 – Room 25 – Noname

In 2016 I would listen to the record Telefone by Noname when walking in mornings often.  It is an easy smooth rap record, good not great.  It did show signs of greatness though.  Noname has great writing ability and wry sense of humor.  Her rapping and rhyming were solid if not quite great yet.  Her 2018 record Room 25 is fulfills that promise.  It didn’t get a huge amount of notice in 2018 from rap audiences despite her association with mega-star Chance the Rapper.  The content is basically tales of a girl from Chicago living in Los Angeles navigating relationships and the industry.  There is sexual content and imagery which is much different than Telefone.  The guest vocals are timed well and enhance the record greatly.  The music and rapping are purposefully slightly low-key and the lyrics and rhyming are intricate.  It definitely feels like a Chicago hip-hop record, with lots slam poetry style rapping and lots great lush jazz style arrangements.  I know when Noname toured the record she sold out places like the Orange Peel in Asheville, but she expressed disappointment at the audiences being all white and didn’t have a strong desire to ‘dance on a stage for white people.’  She also expressed interest in quitting if this continues to be the case.  I hope that doesn’t come to be and her audience expands and is a broad as she would like it to be.  She is a unique talent and I think many people hope to hear more from her.  It would be a shame to lose her voice in hip-hop.




Record of the Day 5-14-2020 – Schlagenheim – black midi

I guess you would call Black Midi’s Schlagenheim math rock? Maybe noise rock?  I am never sure where the genres cross over and become something else.  Let’s just say it has a lot going on.   They are kind of somewhere in between the howling fury of The Jesus Lizard and atmospheric chant rock of Alt-J with an ever present undercurrent of Don Caballero.  They play fast, well, and loud with tons of percussive elements and tons of atmospheric changes in tempo.  The first time I listened to the record I thought there were barely any lyrics, but maybe the third time through I realized the songs had full sets of lyrics when them some with actual semi-stories to them.  I am not sure the lyrics matter that much, they seem more like an addition of an instruments to the mix than a necessary element, but they are present.  The vocals are well done, but they are definitely secondary to the music.  To describe it in terms of how you would listen to it I would say you would take a walk and listen to something else and then reach a park bench and sit down and watch the world go by and listen to this.  It doesn’t make you want to move as much as ponder.  This not a style of record I would typically recommend to people, but it is definitely one of the best records of 2019 to me and I think people who might not normally enjoy math rock/noise rock might like it.  Some people might find not find enough melody or emotional engagement, but to certain listeners it is relaxing (almost) and compelling.  I think the phrase that describes the record to me most to is thought provoking.  It sends my mind off on tangents.  It is music that makes you neither want to dance or sing along which is sometimes very welcome in life.



Dead Sitcoms Stars Cluttering the Psyche


Ted Knight stares at me

Through the late night TV flicker

His hair is white and bright

It hurts my eyes in the darkness

I am sad to see him on the screen

He exists in some alternate universe

The 1970’s that did not exist

But he no longer exists here


Norman Fell stares back on another channel

He is having trouble

With those cohabiting youths again

His career has not yet faded from one bad choice

At the same time

John Ritter’s face is young

His heart is still strong

This will be the greatest moment for both of them

Their faces show they do not know this fact

I do not know what the moments that flash through the

Viewfinder of my life mean

It is unclear until long after the point

And then it is fogged by judgments of episodes


Andy Kaufman is on

Wild, crazed, and manic

Diamond in the rough never cut to a beautiful gem

His pain on display for posterity


McLean Stevenson is

Forever dying on a plane

Shown endlessly

Once dead in life

Doomed to repeat forever

Across the mindscape they are thrown

Living in a syndicated trans-cosmic-loop

They know nothing of the present

It does not exist

The past doesn’t either

It is

Only an alternative reproduction

Dead sitcoms stars cluttering the psyche

Adrift and floating like out of orbit meteors

Digitally represented

Haunting and false

Gene G. McLaughlin 2020

Ted Knight


Record of the Day 5-13-2020 – Dose Your Dreams – Fucked Up

Fucked Up’s record Dose Your Dreams is sprawling and diverse.  It is a kitchen sink record, they threw everything they could at it.  It keeps all the post-hardcore punk sounds that they had in the past (with some minor flourishes) and adds disco, EDM, indie rock, pop and psychedelic elements.  Unlike their great punk music of the past, this also utilizes what must be 15 to 20 vocalists including most band members, numerous female vocalists, and even inexplicable J. Mascis.  Damian Abraham is still on almost every song, but the songs are much broader and require more types of vocals than his distinctive cookie monster growl.  The record seems to have some of the themes and characters of the great 2011 album David Comes to Live, but from what I can tell it is loosely related.  Musically Dose Your Dreams is a step forward, but I can tell why some fans didn’t care for it as much as previous records.  It doesn’t have the immediate impact of The Chemistry of Common Life and it isn’t quite a cohesive and singular as David Comes to Life.  It is however extremely ambitious and the highlights of the record are about as good as anything from 2018.  I am not sure if I would tell someone to start with this for the band it is almost an hour and a half, but to me it is their best.



Record of the Day – 5-12-2020 – Ocean Songs – Dirty Three

Dirty Three might be my favorite post-rock rock band.  I’ve never been 100 percent sure where the category begins and end or when a band is considered an instrumental progressive rock band instead, but when you category includes Mogwai, Tortoise, and Sigur Ros competition to be the best in the small genre is pretty fierce.  Warren Ellis’s violin is so diverse in it’s sound and range you don’t miss the notion of a vocalist.  His composition skills have been on display on display via his scoring of numerous movies (with Nick Cave with whom he is one of the Bad Seeds) and any given Dirty Three record is pretty cinematic on it’s own.  I’ve listened to the Dirty Three records Horse Stories and Ocean Songs the most and they are both terrific.  I guess I give Ocean Songs the edge as my favorite, but it is close to a draw.   Ocean Songs attempts to evoke of the sounds of water and echos and beat of the Pacific Ocean.  As a band that comes from Australia where almost everyone lives by the water this seems like a task that would be intriguing, but daunting to them as a goal.  The record achieves good results.  I think for me the thing I like most on the record (compared to other Dirty Three records) is Jim White’s (of the currently very popular Xylouris While) drumming. On many of the songs with the looping sounds of the violin and the rhythmic sound of Mick Turner’s guitar the drums come to the forefront as if the ocean were speaking it’s mind through crack of the waves.  Oddly Ocean Songs is in many ways a less calming record than Horse Stories despite it’s approach and subject material.  It makes you pay attention a bit more, is a bit less like a soundtrack and more like the plot itself.  The drums in the forefront make the record a bit more present and a bit less passive than Horse Stories.  I’ve never seen Dirty Three live, but their a band I’d like to.  They seem liked they be the kind of band that was like a storm coming in from an ocean, something that would build up and they drench drench everything with sound.



Record of the Day – 5-11-2020 – Anathema – Distant Satellites

I listened to the record Distant Satellites by Anathema many times in 2014.  I also listened to 2012’s Weather Systems almost as much that year, but Distant Satellites gets the edge for most played I think.  I am not sure how to describe the music Anathema makes.  It is definitely progressive rock, but there is a very romantic melancholy easy listening element to it also.  The music is emotional, but never saccharine.  This record is similar to their others of the past 12 years or so has two lead singers Vincent Cavanagh (male perspective vocals) and Lee Douglas (female perspective vocals).  The song cycle acts a sort of loosely related dialogue between the two vocalists.  The pacing of the record almost borders on rock based musical theater.   I don’t actually know if it a type of music that will work for all listeners, but for some reason it was a direct hit for me in 2014.  I think you could listen to any of their recent work and it might evoke the same experience, but it might just be the familiar case of its what you listen to first from an artist that impacts you the most.  For whatever reason like many Kscope label artists Anathema has never really caught on in the United States.  It is possible the sincere emotional nature of the music doesn’t translate for the American audience.  I hope they are able to continue to grow their fanbase because for a certain type of progressive rock devotee their music is wonderful.