Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's bathing suits beat last decade's flannel every time.

Mudhoney - Superfuzz Bigmuff: Deluxe Edition
This lazy slab of rock still spills the bongwater when it hits, but all is forgiven when the riff of "Touch Me I'm Sick" gets rolling out of control and the little solo in "Need" is like living in a pile of mud with a ray of sunshine unexpectedly peeking through the muck. Mudhoney, like the grunge movement it spawned, was never all that profound or even really much of a movement to me, but I think it fits the slab of boring work and the chest congestion I am enduring this morning, so we will fly the flannel and see what comes of it.

For instance, I've never liked "Mudride" all that much before, but it feel perfectly unformed and feral against the fru-fru grandma's antiques coffee shop I am in.

Tad - 8-Way Santa
Tad was the band that seemed to embody whatever grunge was supposed to mean: growling, mean, bearing and image of conscious imagelessness and heavy all with a sad melodic element. I mean, look at these dudes. It is as if the Universe decreed that without Uriah Heep, the karmic balance was off kilter, and Tad was formed out of spare Peavey amp parts, beef tallow and methamphetamines baked in an abandoned oven left in a field behind a newly built Pacific northwest apartment complex. It holds up surprisingly well. Like a truckstop Afgan Whigs. The more I listen to this record, the more I kinda love it. "Plague Years" has a timeless jangle to it woven in with that 90's insurgency that could get out of hand so easily when a string enough hand was not on the reins.

The Jesus Lizard - Goat
This live clip of David Yow getting beaned with a bottle only to eventually get back up and finish the show says more about the Jesus Lizard than I can

The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
Fucking love the Afghan Whigs. Forever and amen.

The Lemonheads - The Best of the Lemonheads

My daughter wanted to swim and our friends with the pool have wi-fi, so the venue thankfully changed. Said friends are championship BBQ chefs trying out their new smoker and brought out a tray of leftover shrimp and sausage and chicken to pick at while I work. And they just made mojitos. So we go to the sunnier side of the 90s with the Lemonheads. "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" sounds like a swimming pool, girls lounging in sunglasses and bathing suits getting splashed by boys perfecting their cannonball.

Guided By Voices - Mag Earwhig!
Summer hit of the supernova, that's what this record is, on the basis of "I Am a Tree" alone. Many consider this to be where GBV lost the thread, but I think its was the beautiful bridge between the ragged early material and his more polished stuff to follow, much like his beloved Who's Next was for The Who.

Now deep into it, this album needs no justifications or clarifications. It is rock music of the highest order. "Jane of the Waking Universe" alone is mightier than most groups' entire albums and "Learning to Hunt" is such a sweet love song, with real beautiful sentiment bleeding through Robert Pollard's usual joyous ramble
You were a child reaching out brave and true
For big things in the next room

And I couldn't step into such open sky

Where on the crest of uncertainty you loom

I'm learning to hunt for you

Say that you'll never run too far away
Even with all the answers out there
Where it's brighter but no one will care

Half as much as I care about you
I'm learning to hunt for you
(Back inside ordinary)
Richard Swift - Richard Swift as Onasis
Just to bring this sunburned parade of smoked meat and chlorine into the present day. Never have listened to Richard Swift, but have been intrigued by his ads and album covers (marketing works!) This largely instrumental tour through psychedlia's bitter end and scumbled lo-fi romanticism fits perfectly with my situation, sitting at a laptop under a patio umbrella, thinking about what I'm hearing. Some art lends itself so well to reflexive examination, where it seems to be art about itself as art. I think Frank Stella's early stuff had that, as does Alex Katz and David Hockney, two artists whose work I don't actually care for but like thinking about. This music has all that going for it + I actually like hearing it.

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