Record of the Day 5-9-2020

In the 1980’s I liked rap, but it was one of those things I didn’t pay close attention to until the 1990’s when a friend gave me a tape with the with Tribe Called Quest, Black Sheep Squadron and Main Source on it.  I realized there was more to the genre than just Beastie Boys, Fat Boys, and Run-D.M.C.  There was the top selling tier of rap royalty that was on MTV, but there was a second tier that was maybe better than the first (although not much is better than King of Rock or Paul’s Boutique).  I woke up to the idea that rap was record based art form succeeding on a broad scale.  The 2019 record Psychodrama by the rapper Dave (full name David Orobosa Omoregie) is a concept album and it is a good as any of the classics I loved in 1991.  The concept is a man facing down his demons in London talking to his therapist for one hour.  The record follows the trajectory of a therapy session with intros and segues from the psychotherapist and is broke up in sections Environment, Relationships, and Social Compass.  Some of the songs are searing, some are introspective, and some are just realistic depictions of the life as the child of Nigerian immigrants in modern London.  The poetry and flow of the record are amazing.  Dave is an eloquent and insightful MC.  The music is low key, more constructed to match the lyrical content than vice versa, but Fraser Smith’s implementation of it is perfect.  For me, the highlight of the record is the 11-minute rap epic Lesley a sorrowful tale of domestic violence, but almost every track is great.  Dave is a rapper at the height of his powers and this record is a window into him working on growth as a man and self-awareness of the world around him.

BearededRiffRaff

Dave_Psychodrama

Record of the Day 5-8-2020

Bars of Gold record Shelters is a straight up rock record.  There is no cleverness attempted and no frills.  It is definitely a record that is in the tradition of Detroit rock legends the MC5 and the Stooges.  I like to listen to it when I move because the record itself never stops moving.  I find it even encourages dancing while walking down the street.  Luckily I trained in Russia at the Bolshoi in the 90’s so it looks really good when I get down on the sidewalk.  I don’t know too much about the band aside from some articles online.  The drummer and lead singer were in a band called Bear vs. Shark and the other members were in an instrumental rock band called Wildcatting and they united to create this band 10 years ago.  Apparently in 2018 before making this record they thought they might drop one of their three guitarist, but instead decided it would better to add a fourth guitar instead.  That direction is represented in the record.  They are all in with a big sound and big songs. Honestly it is record you probably know if you like immediately from the first song.  Shelters might not be the best record for sheltering in place though.  Maybe take a run or walk if you listen to it.  Maybe even dance a bit while doing either.

Bars of Gold Shelters

Record of the Day 5-7-2020

If you were to recommend the record Ys by Joanna Newsom to someone they might ask you to describe it.  You would say, well it is folk music with lots of harp and orchestral arrangements by Van Dyke Parks.  That might not convince them.  You might say there are only 5 songs, but the record is 55 minutes and one song is 17 minutes, but it all seems compact and not too long at all.  That definitely might not sell them on it.  You’d tell them the vocals might be considered odd by most people, but they fit the music perfectly.  That probably would not work either. You could also tell them that maybe it was the most compelling record of 2006.  That there was nothing else like it put out that year or in the years since even by Joanna Newson.  That she has put out good records since, but nothing quite as otherworldly or ethereal as Ys.  Maybe that would peak their interest.  You could get more specific then and tell them when you listened to the record many times over one winter and you used to think it sounded like a fairy tale put to music.  That it sounded not like a child’s fairy tale, but one about the realm of the fae where the stories are about when someone’s husband disappears and comes back after 10 years and looks exactly the same, but has purple hair and speaks a different language.  That you used to wonder while listening to it on the train who around you might be one of the fair folk trying to trick you.   The tales where the world is shown to you by one of the fairies through a door that is in the middle of a forest and the world you see is beautiful and glimmers brightly.  It pulls you toward it.  Yet you can tell everything has sharp edges and just going through the door might cut you and you’re allergic to the most beautiful of the flora and if you go there you better bring your EpiPen.  You are glad you can see it through the portal, but you don’t really think you want to go there.  You’ll just sit back and admire from a distance.  After that they might want to listen to it or maybe not.  I suppose it all depends on well you sold it.

Ys_cover

Record of the Day 5-4-2020

The last concert I saw before everything shut down was Hiss Golden Messenger. Over the last twenty years I have always had a southern rock band that I went to see a bunch of times over a few years. Some years it was Drive By Truckers, some years Gov‘t Mule, some years Lucero. Whiskey drinking bands where you sit outside the club after the show with your new best friend from West Virginia or South Georgia. The last few years it has been Hiss Golden Messenger. MC Taylor writes Americana songs at a high level like Jerry Garcia or Will Oldham. The songs are evergreen. Folklore anthems in the present day. Phil Cook can play just about any instrument well and the rest of the band is always excellent They also have a devotion to the cause of public education which is a soft spot to me. I like all their records, but I think my favorite by them is Heart Like a Levee. It is full of sing along’s and crowd pleasers. For whatever reason they play small venues like Cat’s Cradle or Orange Peel still, but so do Drive By Truckers and Lucero so what do I know. Go see them when it is possible to see anything again.

Heart Like Levee

Record of the Day 5-5-2020

There were many Elephant 6 records that were popular in the late 90’s and there were a bunch I listened to on heavy rotation. Apples in Stereo, Beulah, Elf Power, Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control all made great pop rock records. There is only one that is as perfect and odd as any ever made that is Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The lyrics of the record have been interpreted by obsessed fans for years so I will not bother. I know after a while Jeff Mangum got sick of talking about the record and what the meaning was behind it so I will honor him by saying I am not interested. I just went to genius.com and there are 7 people mulling over the lyrics right now. Good luck tireless annotators! The lyrics are beautiful no matter what they mean. I have no idea what the song Two Headed Boy is actually about, but damn does it pack a wallop. Jeff Mangum sing marvelously. Scott Spillane’s horns are perfect. Julian Koster makes random sounds with various instruments which seem completely necessary. Like many Elephant 6 records it is under 40 minutes and they didn’t need a minute more to make a classic record.

In_the_aeroplane_over_the_sea_album_cover_copy

Kendrick Lamar – DAMN

I am not a music critic and don’t have the best language for this, but I am going to attempt to tell you why the new #KendrickLamar album is so remarkable. Imagine when you are 16 years old you try something. You are a natural and over 10 years you become the best in the world at it. At some point in the future you are 29 and you learn all the success in your life is based on one choice made 25 years ago. This choice had nothing to do with you. It was arbitrary. You realize there were different possible versions of you based on this choice. Permutations that existed, but didn’t come to be. You decide to undertake an exercise of extreme empathy and make a record based on a version of you who had to deal with the opposite of the choice that was made. The record you make #DAMN represents how narrow the window of possibilities is that we slip through is and how many other possible versions of us exist. For some they are better for some they are worse, but they always exist. In my own life I sometimes feel the echoes and reverberations other versions of me would have dealt with, but I never did. Those tales become coiled in my head despite their non-existence. It is powerful to hear one such tale recorded over 80 minutes.

– Gene Mclaughlin May 2017

That Crusoe Must Have Thunk/version 2

I have the kind of

Knowledge you get

From spending days and years alone

Books existing as my solace

When I am lonely to the bone

I am a dreamer

I am a drunk

I am thinking all the thoughts

That Crusoe must have thunk

I have the kind of old soul

That runs away from pain

I know all about the price of love

And its small and subtle gains

I am a dreamer

I am a drunk

I am thinking all the thoughts

That Crusoe must have thunk

I might have misgivings

Gathered up along the way

But the train’s already moving

And the fare has been paid

Some come on now

All you words and songs

Give me that substitute

For that which my soul longs

Gene G. McLaughlin 2015

Maybe All Songs

Maybe all songs have been written

Maybe all stories have been told

At least I got enough books&music

To keep me from boredom as I grow old

Gene G. McLaughlin 2015

A Great Forgotten Record of the 1990’s Big Chief – Mack Avenue Skullgame

In 1993 I bought a record called Mack Avenue Skull Game.  It was was a fake soundtrack to a 70’s urban movie that never existed.  For a while I thought it was a real movie and it in the days before the internet it could take a while to find your way to the truth.  The band was never overly famous and never hit it big although they did have somewhat of a following and when I saw them live once it was a full room.  The album itself reminds me of a Tarantino movie.  It is a record made by white people and is a respectful homage to 70’s black music that stands on its own.  I equate it with Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.  I listened to it on Spotify recently see how it held up 20 years later.  The record is still strong.  The music is still gritty and tight and the vocals are occasionally remarkably.  It drives forward with momentum and never dwells too long in one place.  What sounded somewhat out of place in 1991 is much less out of place in 2014 as the world has come full circle and if Big Chief were touring today they be on the summer circuit festival making crowds move in the summer sun.  It is a record that was out of place in 1993, but it did make many people like me find our ways to the original 70’s funk records that inspired it.  On Spotify there is no related artists tab, because Big Chief kind of stood alone for 1993 any related artists would be from a generation before.  Personally I am grateful for the record as a gateway to funk.  I don’t know much about what happened to Big Chief and I don’t know much background information on them.  I kid of like it that way, the album just stands on its own.  I don’t think Big Chief made a record after Mack Avenue Skullgame, but for me it stands as a great record that time forgot.

Gene G. McLaughlin 2014

This Is Not My Pop Song

This is not my pop song

Playing on the radio

My pop song is still playing

On the air waves of long ago

 

I can’t hear the melody

And the harmony sounds bad

Well I think whoever bought this single

Well I think that they’ve been had

 

Well how the hell they dancing and singing

Without losing all their damn breath

I bet they’re damn lip synching

How else they avoiding cardiac death

 

I try to switch the radio dial

But all the stations are the same

I will just sit here quiet a while

And think who I should blame

 

This is not my pop song

Maybe it belongs to you

The song structure is all wrong

The rhythm sounds bad too

 

Maybe I have just lost touch

And start to get a bit old

But this song sucks way too much

If the truth really be told

 

Well instead of sitting here feeling sad

Looking for some new tunes to hum

I am going to just be really glad

I got a box of old LP’s if I need some

Gene G. McLaughlin 2003