Friday, November 22, 2013

Frances Keeps Picking!

The records pile up. Every month more records. Now I've started this record label even. Listen: each one is special. Each and every one was made for you. I'm lucky I've got someone to help me choose, a small person. It's been joked about me, when I worked for a company that made music recommendations technology, that they put a little me inside of all the computers and that's how the algorithm worked. Now that's what there is, except instead of a little me it's a little Frances. You can tell she's part me, especially when she makes up songs, but the model's been improved. She keeps picking the records for me, this engine. I mentioned the label. It makes it so I have less time now to update a blog, at least on the epic scale of thought that I once did. It's all I can do to play the records now (and take pictures of them). Frances doesn't like posing for the pictures anymore either, so that's changing too (check out Hermie, my new model!). But she still picks them like a pro. She's getting better.

In two months since I wrote in this space, she picked five for me. I spent the day playing them.

Rational Animals - Bock Rock Parade. Hard to avoid comparisons with this band, but I'll try. I always cringe at the disconnect between sneering HC delivery and schmaltzy, terrible-adolescent love-poetry lyrical content of "My Treat" ("When we're with our friends / Or with your family / Eating kosher meat / ... / You know it's my treat"). Cringe in an AWESOME way! Cause these dudes mean it so hard, so much, that they do not even give a fuck about telling you about their teen love. Which is not cool at all. Which is so cool. And set it to some proggy late-80s crossover HC/thrash grooves. Like, um, Black Flag. Shit I compared em. Well they sound like Black Flag in a good way, like they're smart dudes who make real original music with new ideas the way Black Flag were back in 88, you know when everyone was complaining that Black Flag was too metal or whatever. And they put all these pictures of goats in the artwork (HUMAN = GOAT MOTHERFUCKER!!!!) and the best is they are just long-hair teen dudes from the Rochester of nowhere posing in the snow with a Gennee tallboy and a denim jacket and they are both in on the joke and living the delicious dream all at the same time. THINK ABOUT IT FUCKER.

Runnamucks - Of a Different Breed. Hey it's thrashy fast punk from the 90s that sounds like thrashy fast punk from any of the last four decades! Josh's vocals are raspy and fucking sweet dude! The full-color art mimics horror comics from the old days, giving it a Back from the Grave vibe, but the music isn't garage-punk at all! My band played with these guys in Orlando (Orlando!) in the living room of a house in a subdivision and the mom was there and everyone else was a teen! That was on the tour when we had a syncronized trampoline dance routine, and our trampolines barely fit in the living room! Thrash! Why did Frances pick two teen-thrash gems in a row! THINK ABOUT IT FUCKER.

Youngbloods - Earth Music. There's this one stunningly beautiful, beautifully strange, lovely song on here called "All My Dreams Blue". Youngbloods have the typical hippy-era twin obsessions with country and blues, and present here plenty of boring compositions in the rock-combined flavor of both idioms. Another hippy pitfall fallen into is the guy named "Banana" who plays jazzy electric and acoustic piano. The piano's the key though. The blend is easy and sharp, vibe mellow. Jesse's voice high and sweet. "Sugar Babe" is easy to love, man. Easy. You know what? Jefferson Airplane are self-serving, trying to mess with you, capitalist hippies that turned the Sixties into the Eighties, dig? Bacon-loving, free-love-abuse hippies. Youngbloods, they are totally not messing with anyone. Just dudes playing friendly music. Earth music, man. I'm not buying the gritty blues numbers. Keep it sweet, Jesse.

P-Funk All-Stars - Live at the Beverly Theater in Hollywood. I have no memory of ever listening to this ever before. Two full LPs of this monster. Pedro Bell clay figures on the front, Pedro Bell game on the back. They compare themselves to the "NBA all-stars". I want to know where the line is that when you're on one side, you're ripping a hole in the fabric of the universe and then when you're on the other side you're metal-funking professional cheeze that sounds like Flea in bondage gear. The guitar solo on "Cosmic Slop" breaks through the sky but there's only pro-cheeze outside the portal. Pro pro pro. Just a few years after the youngbloods of hip-hop made them legit again. Huge. Monster. Grimace of funk-rock. But then "Give Up the Funk" rips out of nowhere with this insane fast intro and you have to realize that they are just working their ASSES off and they can't help it if they're a straight-up pro funk-rock behemoth. Nothing wrong with that.

I will say this: Sides Three and Four are a churning, burning vortex of insanity, with a brief interlude of dumbness where George recites a bunch of lyrics from old Funkadelic songs over the intro to "Maggot Brain".

Charles Williams - Trees and Grass and Things. Out of the blue, my Friday winds to a close with this blindside of hot yet laid back funky bluesy jazz. Damn. I don't know where or when I acquired this, and I'm pretty sure I never played it before. Dude's face is way closer to the camera than it needs to be but his sax solos land right in the middle of my brain every time. On the inside it says "There are some albums - all too few - that are quite timeless. This session, Charles Williams' second for Mainstream, is one of them. No matter what changes come in form and fashion, this set is going to provide good feeling so long as there are ears to hear. The swing is deep; the lines are buoyant and fluid; and the musicians so clearly appreciate each other that a marvelous organic unity pervades the album." No really! There's this one really long held note in "Cracklin' Bread" that just brings the whole universe right there into the room with you. There's a song called "Booger Bear". "Booger Bear"!!!