Tuesday, May 31, 2005

 

talk about...pop muzik? and assorted other topics of little interest

So, the rest of that mix, then:

11) M - Pop Muzik - My kind of rallying cry - "New York, London, Paris, Munich/Everybody talk about - Pop Muzik!" A bizarre, whimsical record by British musician Robin Scott that went gold in the US so at least some people were, not coincidentally, talking about "Pop Muzik." Meta-pop was nothing new to the British public by the time this record had come out - "Virginia Plain," f'rinstance - but "Pop Muzik" laid bare the entire history of pop in commenting about it, embracing its ridiculousness by being totally ridiculous in itself. It's all there: nonsense lyrics, dancing in the streets, the "new! futuristic!" sounds. Even today it sounds like something pop music is striving towards rather than what it is, a glorious amalgamation of pop's history/legacy, present technology and future possibilities.

12) Bloodhound Gang - Mope - Meanwhile, the Bloodhound Gang are very much a band of their time; I can't imagine a band like them being able to exist in any decade other than the '90s, the decade that was surely the pinnacle of slacker culture and fart jokes. "Mope" is a '90s pop culture blitzkrieg, a barbed confection of just about everything that smartass college flunkies who were chronically picked on in eighth grade can be, well, a big ol' smartass about. In doing so, they turn Frankie Goes to Hollywood into a walking gay joke (while humorously sampling "Relax" for the song itself), give a gangsta shout-out to the then-recently deceased Falco, and in the song's "breakdown," transform Pac-Man into a raving coke fiend. They're most self-effacing about themselves, of course: you're basically made to mock their patheticness when they brag about watching COPS with no pants on or staring at girls while pretending to speed-read. As I don't believe they've recorded anything of late, their prediction that their career would end up like "Luciano Pavarotti on a treadmill" turned out to be stunningly accurate, but for the space of this song, they embraced the juvenile brat/frat-rap espoused by the pre-social conscience Beasties and released a number of albums that strove to such a high-minded level of absurdity and jackassitude that I'm sort of amazed that I love it as much I do. When Homer Simpson joins in on the fun at the end, I'm pretty much won over to its icky charms. ("Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny" is still a terrible, terrible song, though.)

13) Ini Kamoze - Here Comes the Hotstepper - There's that '90s nostalgia rearing its ugly head again. Of course, this track is blindingly classic, pop-reggae riding a Taana Gardner sample to its logical funky conclusion, Ini's thin'n'wobbly though militantly steadfast vocals hitting every possible hook ("exCUSE me, mr. officer!"). Though having a long career of reggae behind him before this song became a hit thanks to the Ready to Wear (!!) soundtrack, he apparently has not released an album since.

14) Sylvi Foster - Hookey - I already wrote about this once, but its skeezy slurred-ESL vox and sly synthesizer hooks remain total class.

15) Kay Franzes - Take Me and You'll Win - In the last post I wrote about distinctive Italo records being more prone to repeat listens on my behalf. To my knowledge, this is the only Italo record to contain the word "boobies," so this wins some sort of prize based on that alone. Luckily, the rest of the record is great, too. Kay's raspy vocals are alternately beseeching you to come home with him and undressing you with his eyes, and he pulls off neat stunts with it as well (check the way he savors the "sugarLIPS to effect!" lyric almost like a fine wine, a wonderful turn of phrase that probably could not have been penned by anyone who speaks English as their first language). And of course, the "wunderbars" that dot the song are like topping your ice cream off with the best kind of sprinkles money can buy.

16) Paul Lekakis - Boom Boom (Let's Go Back to My Room) - When released in 1986, this record must have seemed like the dying vestiges of a fading civilization; namely, pre-AIDS gay culture. It's not explicitly about gay sex and can very easily be addressed to a woman, yet Lekakis' husky come-ons ("Hey babe, I'd like to talk to you/How'sabout comin' back to my room for a little BOOM-BOOM?"), coupled with his just-visible chiseled, naked torso on the record sleeve and the glittery hi-NRG beat contained therein easily lend the song to a queer historical reading. There's more than a tinge of desperation in Lekakis' delivery. "You're driving me crazy, crazy for you" is exclaimed almost breathlessly, and every bodily action is coded, each gesture loaded with significance: "You keep coming to me/I can feel your dynamite." The single went to #1 in Japan and Australia but in Reagan's America didn't stand much of a chance. The time had not been out of the public mind, after all, when AIDS was referred to as "gay cancer" by alarmist establishment figures, which in turn led to the policing of NYC bathhouses and other queer hangouts for illicit activity. "Boom Boom" reflects, to an extent, the disillusionment that the hedonistic lifestyle espoused by the song's lyrics led to a path of destruction for many, and the realization that things had to change soon, and fast. Though the next decade would see a buttoning-up somewhat of gay culture, wherein gays could become marketed as "safe" to be around, good shopping buddies, what have you, those sexual impulses never went away, and were instead channeled by the likes of underground gay figures like Bruce LaBruce and Dennis Cooper, in an attempt to make gay sex "transgressive" again.

And so this crisis of image has played a crucial role in gay identity confusion - is it better to stay "true" to your roots and enjoy the hedonistic lifestyle to piss off the squares, or should we opt for coveting mainstream acceptance to grant us upward mobility and all the privileges to which heterosexuals are entitled? It's a tricky issue I can't begin to resolve, and Paul Lekakis seems just as unsure of it himself in this song. I can't help but think of all of this when the key change hits about 30 seconds before the song's fade-out. Key changes in pop have long signified an added surge of confidence for the singer, but this particular one sounds morose and disappointed (my lack of music theory expertise renders me unable to discuss this in more explicit terms, as I can't tell what changes the key makes exactly), and put through a queer reading, the lack of vocals in this part speaks to me in different ways: stripped of its identity, the song can't find its own voice.



Oh, and this weekend, I bought a kick-ASS Donna Summer poster, the Make Way for Dionne Warwick LP, and Macho's "I'm a Man" 12" for a whopping $2.00. Park Slope is beautiful.

Monday, May 30, 2005

 

talk about...pop muzik?

The tracklist of a mix CD I made before spending my weekend more or less entirely in beautiful Park Slope, Brooklyn under Justin and Mike's welcoming roof:

1) Bardo - One Step Further - the UK's 1983 Eurovision entry and a damn fine one it is - catchy like syphilis and hopelessly indebted to ABBA (like most of the great Eurovision entries are, i suspect), two things i'm all 'bout. I should force Justin to listen to this one day and maybe it'll drive him insane like that Melody Club song did.

2) Krisma - Many Kisses - vaguely creepy Italian synthpunk number that was estimably big in Europe in 1980. Krisma gained a degree of notoriety from incidents involving razorblades and their fingers on stage, but the Sex Pistols' (whose look they copped somewhat) gob'n'snarl is hardly apparent on this record, and if it is, perhaps it's mostly in the three kisses blown after each mention of the song title, which sound more like kissoffs, really.

3) Paris Angels - Perfume - great indie-dance record from the height of BAGGY. There is apparently a remix of this which is much better (and which I also haven't heard) but I rather like this version too: the wordless ethereal female vox on the chorus elevate an otherwise unremarkable song to a greater stature and sound all the lovelier contrasted with the gruff male singer's manchester mumble. The rest of the song is swoony hazy guitars and drum machine skiffle, striking a precarious balance that happily works.

4) Paso Doble - Herz an Herz - adorable German New Wave record that was later transformed in the '90s by an act called Blumchen into a gigantic throbbing Eurodance stomper. Their single "Computerliebe" is great too but a bit torn between whether it wants to be cold hard Kraftwerk or sweet ol' a-ha, but this song makes up its mind squarely on the latter (it even threatens to turn into "Take on Me" after the second chorus!) and is all the better for it. Sung im Deutsche but the chorus is rudimentary German so I don't feel like a doofus singing along to it.

5) Wish Key - Last Summer - I make no bones about my fondness for Italo Disco but let's face it, a lot of it is really crap, isn't it? All samey synth-doodles and ESL vox which is great at first but exhausting and inane after overexosure (which is nobody's fault but my own obviously, but still). So occasionally, it takes a deviation from the formula to pique my interest, and the reason I think "Last Summer" works is because it operates from an angle of nostalgia (a recurring theme with some of the songs on this CD, as we'll see). The premise of most Italo, to me, and the great fun of it, too, is that this is Music Made by Robots to Pretend to Be a Robot To, and the injection of "I remember last summer" into a song, coupled with the general wistfulness of the melody, seems particularly striking amidst a sea of mass-produced I-robotnicks.

6) Cathy Dennis - All Night Long (Touch Me) - I'm tempted to just say that this is one of the greatest records ever made and be done with it, but if I had to say something about it, well, I remember this playing on Z100 a lot back in tha day (see? told ya) and just becoming a really happy camper whenever this happened. Records like this basically informed my pre-teen musical aesthetic, I think: you could keep your damn grunge rock, I'm more than happy to cohabitate in this brilliant and sexy pop dreamworld with Cathy and hey it turns out I don't even like to touch girls but I wouldn't dream of changing those words for a second, they just sound so right. If I never liked this record, Girls Aloud would mean nothing to me today, I think.

7) Markus Guentner with Acid Maria - So Well - Acid Maria rhapsodizes like an academic robot-with-a-sore-throat about physical attraction, trying to lecture, it seems, but able only to describe these sensations in snippets and fragments, ultimately reducing it to the more-complex-than-it-seems statement: "because I'm a girl." Markus Guentner provides the grooves, a stiff microhouse beat that builds slowly but steadily throughout the song like a passing fancy, with a warm synth-line gently humming its way throughout.

8) DHS - House of God - more nostalgia (or JOE-stalgia if you will, hem hem) for my "techno" years ('97-'98, roughly). I saw the video for this on MTV's AMP, their only show devoted to electronic music which emerged at roughly the same time I started to develop an interest in it, but unfortunately was usually broadcast at an hour when I had trouble staying awake for it (and if it were on these days, it would be broadcast at an hour when I'd probably be out of the house anyhow). This is still a fantastic song, and it does so much with seemingly so little: that relentless 4/4 beat, the evangelist samples, the funky doo doo doo-doo-doo-doo bassline, the syncopated synth-line, and not much else. Did they have other singles and were any of them as good as this, if so?

9) Low Fidelity All-Stars - Battleflag - the "dirty" version, it should be noted. I'm thinking I may have liked the radio edit a bit more - I like the length of the album cut but the "get down on your motherfucking knees!" sounds a bit much. Even so, this wouldn't really erase many of the other lyrical misfires in this song ("got a revolution behind my eyes/we got to get up and organize" - in 1999 or whatever were you really that progressive? I mean, the wordless part before any of the other music sets in at the beginning sounds like Dead Cities-era FSOL!) but it still sounds funky as hell to me and I still get this weird thrill of bad-assitude when I listen to it.

10) Lyn Collins - Think (About It) - The song which birthed one of the most perfect singles ever created, that is, Rob Base and DJ EZ-Rock's "It Takes Two." The original is hardly anything to sneeze at, either: Lyn Collins is in perfect sassy form throughout, wielding her sexuality like a weapon over one helluva funky organs & horns break.

...it's fucking late, so I'll continue this tomorrow, maybe with an mp3 or two and a general description of my wonderful, low-key weekend. also MIKE DOUGHERTY PLEASE GET THAT PHOTO YOU TOOK OF ME YESTERDAY ONLINE ASAP THX.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

 

nice pubes.

there are many things in this world that i desire right now.

1) a lucrative (emotionally if not financially) DJ career
2) records that will better help me realize 1)
3) a place to live in nyc as commuting rather sux
4) a paycheck dear god a paycheck
5) a second part-time job
6) a certain person's intimate advances (yknow the kissing and groping and touching of dangly bits and whathaveyou)
7) the ability to tear myself away from this infernal contraption for five seconds

as these desires remain unfulfilled for the time being, i remain ever eager to impart gifts on anyone who bothers themselves with soaking up my pabulum. so here is an mp3. it is by the wonderful gender-bending disco chanteuse grace jones, and is called "pull up to the bumper" and it prominently features car horns, cowbell, and a neat guitar/synth hook, all deployed in the service of a deliciously sexy disco/funk choon wherein the titular line is employed as a metaphor for picking up a hooker (or so i like to think). it is also remixed by larry levan of paradise garage fame and is therefore unquestionably Very Very Good. this will hopefully make up for (read: distract you from) the fact that, in the universe that is my bedroom, i have done very little except bed-rave a little (oh i'm not fooling you am i A LOT) and stare at my laptop and therefore have nothing of great importance to discuss.

(well, that's not entirely true. i finally watched harold and kumar go to white castle tonight, which only qualified as a matter of "great importance" because it is set in new jersey and i'm always curious to watch cinematic depictions of my home state. i did enjoy it, even though not all the jokes really work and the geography is a bit amiss. i have this working theory that as a treatise on life in new jersey it is far more relevant to my experiences growing up here than garden state is but i really should be going to bed. but first, that mp3.)

grace jones - pull up to the bumper (larry levan garage remix)

Saturday, May 21, 2005

 
updated blogroll. expect a big WIM2K5 update soon, i've been workin' the p2p mojo lots lately.

MEANWHILE:

silverdollarcircle to killers, franz, et al.: "J00 HAVE BEEN PWNED"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

 

there. are. many. imitators. but. we. are. the. true. creators. we. are. back.

i've gotten myself a webshots account! first up: my weekend in delaware, which is explained in the captions more or less so i won't say too much about it, save to say that i had a lot of fun and that it was an ENTIRELY different universe from what i'm used to (which isn't a bad thing at all, of course). (also, douchebags who throw eggs at people from cars should get aborted.) (also also, no burrito can remove chipotle's icy cold grip on my heart, but it was a valiant try, santa fe mexican grill!) much thanks to the udel kids for showing me a grand ol' time, and i hope to visit again soon!

meanwhile, i started work yesterday, which is to say, i shelved books for three hours. this isn't a terrible thing - do it long enough and it becomes oddly meditative - but it was awfully hard to shelve all those books when all i wanted to do was rifle through all the 18th-century (and older) books in the stacks. the wide range of conditions some of these books are in is incredible - many have held up, many nearly crumble when you touch them. there's over a HUNDRED different editions of don quixote, including one edition dating from 1605! another great finds: a copy of this book, which i've decided is the greatest name for a book ever (even though i'll probably never read it).

Friday, May 13, 2005

 

i forgot to mention...

would anyone care to accompany on some sort of nyc parkhopping venture? one that would attempt to hit up all five boroughs, ideally? this wouldn't all be done over the course of one weekend, naturally, but i feel that the greenery of our fair city is overlooked and underappreciated, so let us do our part to bask in it!

oh fine here, let me post some pictures to pique your interest:

flushing meadows-corona park!



prospect park!



pelham bay park!



sunset park/green-wood cemetery!



astoria park!



ft. greene park!



but enough of all that. let's snap some photos of our own, shall we?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

 

summer breeze, makes me feel fine

and so, i have completed the most final of my finals for the 2004-2005 academic year and am now moved out of cliff street and back in the comfy suburban nestles of cranford.

so being back in new jersey, perhaps for the whole summer (my mother asked me why i never considered subletting with you folks - needless to say i didn't have an answer, and still don't), is indicative of a number of things. most importantly, i am now forced to spend evenings in a bed that is, paradoxically, smaller than my dorm bed, and yet somehow much emptier as well. no longer will the sun glare meanly into my eyes through my window overlooking the brooklyn bridge at around 8:30 in the morning, effectively robbing me of a full night's sleep. i will have to reacquaint myself with barking dogs, empty stretches of spooky suburban streets at night, and food served in diners that close at 2 in the morning. and, of course, a decrease in alcohol intake.

tonight my family went to olive garden on rt. 22 to celebrate a belated mother's day night out (which probably goes to show the amount of respect the males in my family have for this tradition). on the drive back, past the theme restaurants that adorn rt. 22 and the now-closed skeet range on the cusp of cranford/kenilworth, i was amazed that i felt a weird contentment with the current state of things. yes, most of my friends will be away this summer, living in manhattan, brooklyn, delaware, and vacationing to florida, europe, and god knows where else while i remain the sessile being that i am, commuting at least three days a week into the city and not doing much else with my time. and yes, my boyfriend is several hundred miles away, a fact that frankly makes me/him/us feel lousier the more i/he/we think(s) about it. yet i can't help but retain more than a shred of optimism: i will be working in the city, i will make the effort to train up to boston to see le ricecore, i will be able to see the myriad of cool folks that i've met over the past two years AND my hometown folx, and i will sleep on many many friends' couches to cop that vagabond vibe.

in a way i'm excited to be back: i love city grime as much as the next nyc transplant raised in new jersey but let's face it, i grew none-too-attached to the financial district and its miserable cast of characters in their stifling business casual eating overpriced bagels at corbet and conley's. it's been a long time since i've enjoyed the feel of grass underneath my (sneakered) feet, the smell of summer nights unobscured by air pollution and dense traffic, the taste and texture of a diner-prepared vanilla milkshake as it soul-kisses my taste buds and eases its way down my throat like a stealthy leopard on the prowl. misgivings about money and distant boyfriend besides, i expect a summer as carefree and laidback as the seals & crofts song which gives this entry its name.

so i think i'm gonna make the most of a not-terrible situation and enjoy this time i'll be spending in cranford. if i rid myself of the perception that the next three-and-a-half months will be akin to sitting in a stalled car at the world's longest red light, then everything should turn out reasonably well, i gather. plus, if i ever get sick of this town and have $7.25 to my name, i'll know what to do.

(actually, it just so happens that this weekend i am spending considerably more than that (take that amount and multiply it by about coughcoughmumblemutter18coughcoughmuttergrumble) to spend a weekend at the university of delaware, studiously observing what it is like to attend an ACTUAL college instead of the weird fragmented OMG POMO IRONY RULZ!!!1!11! experience that is NYU, and getting fuckin' sloshed while doing so. huzzah!)

(ps get one healthier, richard cicchelli!)

Friday, May 06, 2005

 

a steady diet of brautigan



pictured above: the fales library, new york university.

aka my place of summer employment.

BOOYAKASHA!

piano magic - i am the sub-librarian

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

 

...but do you ruff ME?

kristin frogner - stars above my head (link takes you to video, courtesy of mtveurope)

i am trying to finish my last paper of the semester and this song isn't helping me in the least.

on the surface, it isn't a distracting song. it's very lightweight, enough that it won't seriously deter me from doing work. what aggravates me about it though is that after about twenty listens i still have no idea whether i LIKE it or not.

basically, kristin frogner, who hails from norway and is, if i'm not mistaken, also an actress in her homeland, has a voice reminiscent of kylie minogue, minus the seductive breathiness (which is the only interesting trait about kylie's voice in the first place) and wayyyy amped on the 'cute-as-a-button' factor. so really, she sounds like she's thirteen, and singing mostly to herself. the song itself is inoffensive to the point of just being barely noticeable - too languid to be "breezy," too listless to be entirely affecting, i imagine if you played this for a room full of people it would elicit no effect whatsoever. there is nothing at ALL outstanding about this song and its cloyingly adorable singer should make me dismiss it entirely.

yet at the same time i feel totally compelled, for one reason or another, to adore it. i don't think i DO adore it, for reasons aforementioned. but i get the feeling listening to this song that she's practically begging me to love her and her song, to put up with this fiddlefaddle. and i do. it fucking works every time. (it doesn't help that the video is actually kinda cool - some great gothy nonsense plus a hot scandinavian dude). "don't forget i'm human or i'll start to cry" - c'mon kristin!!! this song is basically the aural equivalent of being given a valentine's day card with a picture of a timid cartoon puppy on it holding out a lace heart for you that says I RUFF YOU or something on it! its drippiness in and of itself wouldn't impress me but if someone ever sent me something like that i think i'd just fall hopelessly in love with them forever.

what i'm basically trying to say is - i would love this song if i didn't know what she was singing. let's hope someone records a japanese version of this to put my mind at ease.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

 

HOO-KAH HOO-KAH



hookah tobacco is a pretty wonderful thing, i think. it calms you down a great deal without giving you any of the less tasteful side effects of marijuana (ie the smell), yet you don't get high either, just...sort of bubbly and peaceful.

watching the family guy tonight, i smoked a pretty decent amount of hookah and combined with my general weekend insomnia, i'm just about ready to pass out. yet since i promised myself this paper will get done, coupled with my confidence that i can poop out another four pages, this post brings great tidings of an italo mp3!

sylvi foster was one of the many aliases of domenico ricchini, who also recorded tracks as bob salton, delanua, and joe yellow. (why italo artists invented so many monikers for themselves, i do not, and MAY NEVER, know.) "hookey" is a great slice of early electro-italo from 1982, the era of italo of which i'm particularly fond (those fuzzy buzzy synths just kinda...get to me, y'know?). one notable thing about it is that i'm almost positive that it's sung in english and yet after many repeated listens, i don't understand a DAMN word he's saying. "hookey" sounds more like HO-KEH! HO-KEH!, so those who aren't into thick accents should maybe beware. as joe yellow, he would later go onto record with mauro farina and giuliano crivellente, who also produced brand image's excellent "love in a summer night."

sylvi foster - hookey

(ps cheers to discogs.com for the pic/info which i rather unceremoniously stole from them. how neat is that cover art though? though what exactly IS it? a woman giving a dog an enema? leave your best guesses in my comments box!)

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