About Us


There is a good chance you found us accidentally by using the word “taint” in your search (If you found us on purpose, you deserve our accolades). Of course we don’t know what you were looking for, but you stumbled on a damn cool project. Look around; let us help send you on a musical journey. Here you will find a number of album reviews from the strange and extreme to the tame and mainstream. Our reviewers are a bunch of obsessive miscreants. Most of us are avid music collectors and have been involved in the music world for decades. A couple of us have been in or are still in bands.

There are no rules on Tickle Your Taint Blog. Our reviewers might make you laugh, or piss you off; both results are legitimate. One reviewer might write a glowing review of an album another might tear it apart. We may end up adopting a single review system, such as five stars, or each reviewer may use his own or none at all. We may have a new review every week or we could end up with one every six months. This blog exists as a social experiment to build community among a diverse group of music maniacs – our reviewers and hopefully you. Pull down your knickers, lube up and join us in tickling yours and our taints.

If you are in a band, have released a physical (rather than an MP3) CD or record, and would like us to review your efforts, contact us at tickleyourtaint@yahoo.com

Monday, January 31, 2011

Old Corpse Road - The Bones Of This Land Are Not Speechless/The Meads Of Asphodel - English Black Punk Metal

(Godreah Records, 2010)

Reviewed by Jimmy "Explosive Diarrhea" B.

If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed that I tend to write reviews of music from the 80s. It was in the decade of Ronald Reagan, big hair (fuck, I miss big hair!), and MTV that I cut my musical teeth. In that sometimes terrible, sometimes wonderful decade, I went from a young boy to a young man, and my musical tastes migrated from The Eagles and Styx in the first part of the decade to Metallica, Exciter and Metal Church by its closing. Everyone’s life, I believe, has a soundtrack. Events, places, time, and emotions are tied together with music. For example, on an immensely silly night in 1987, I got drunk for the first time with Plainzero while listening to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, which was also a first. When I hear songs like Paranoid, or War Pigs, I can smell the froth of Budweiser tallboys and see the illumination coming from the dashboard of Plainzero’s Gran Torino.  How can music from other decades compare to this kind of sentimentality? 

I am about to take a bold step, two bold steps actually. First, I will review an album that has only been available for a few months, second, I will write the review while listening to the album for the very first time. Reviewing the album this way presents some problems; first, it may be unfair to the artist(s), since I will be forming opinions based on a single listen - many musical intricacies will be missed - some albums require multiple listens to allow the listener time to adapt to the artist’s style (See Null’s Evisceration Plague review for an example of this).  Second, most sentiment has been removed, very little happened between my mailbox and my CD player. I say “most sentiment” because The Meads of Asphodel (hereafter referred to as The Meads) are already part of the soundtrack of my life.  The pages, paragraphs, and words that follow are merely the notes I took while listening to the CD, and are not meant to be viewed as a properly constructed or well thought out music review. Take a minute and get comfortable, while I remove the cellophane…  

The album cover is typical for The Meads of Asphodel; it portrays a battle scene. The cover is an interpretation of David’s victory over Goliath. The cover seems apt, since The Meads are an established band, albeit in the metal underground. They are, in my opinion, a powerful force to be reckoned with, much like the biblical Goliath.  Old Corpse Road (David) is a new comer in danger of getting overwhelmed by The Meads. Will Old Corpse Road conquer The Meads of Asphodel? Let’s find out together.

Old Corpse Road - The Bones of this Land are not Speechless

Before hitting the play button on my CD player, I read the lyrics, and Old Corpse Road can fucking write. All three songs are based on old English folktales of witches and demons. There is nothing original about this material in metal, but I am stunned at how well and how poetic the songs are written. There are none of the lame rhyme schemes we see in so much popular music. Each new stanza introduces a new action or provides us some psychological glimpse into the mind of the characters. It may be too soon to pile on this kind of praise, but Old Corpse Road’s lyrics put them in the upper echelon of metal lyricists.

The first song, "Hob Headless Rises", opens with a bit of keyboard and a fast black metal riff. The singer alternates between a screech and a growl. The song slows down into a bit of guitar plucking and piano, the vocals settle momentarily into a Gaelic folk cadence, before the whole thing blows up again into pure black metal noise.

There were some interesting moments in track one. I enjoyed the smooth timing changes, but was irritated by the overuse of keyboards.

Next up is "The Devil’s Footprint." The song starts with a nice guitar melody with clean and whispered vocals, but the cookie monster and screeching vocals start again. The melody and groove the band was establishing is quickly extinguished as the band again overuses keyboards.  I suspect Old Corpse Road have been influenced by Borknagar.  I am entirely dissatisfied with this song. The clean vocals were a welcome addition, while they lasted. Much of the vocals were in the form of screeching, and the overuse of keyboards is really starting to annoy me. Overall, this rather ridiculous song is fatiguing to the ear.

The last Old Corpse Road song is "The Witch and the Wookey Hole," which sounds dirty. What the fuck is a Wookey hole, and what did the witch do with it (or to it)? Holy Shit! This song starts out balls to the fucking wall. The drumming is in double time, the screeching vocals actually work here, and the ever present keyboards don’t feel as dominant or as out of place as they did in the other two songs. Oops, I spoke too soon, the aggression slowed down and the keyboards took over again. Fuck! These guys cannot seem to keep a groove going for more than thirty seconds without fucking it up. 

"The Witch and the Wookey Hole" is Old Corpse Road’s best song on the split. The ending is cool. Near the end of the song we get a glimpse of what this band can do; the arrangement improved. We hear a group of monks or priests performing an exorcist chant; the song transforms into a spoken word piece that sums up of the story of the witch (who is conquered by an angry Dirty Harry style monk). The spoken word part is backed up by acoustic guitar, which finally ends in a heavy metal dirge driven by drums and piano.

Old Corpse Road has a lot of potential.  They are very good lyricists. The songs are varied, and interesting at moments. Unfortunately for every part of the song I enjoyed, there was another that annoyed the shit out of me. Those fucking keyboards have got to go. If the point is to use them to set the vibe/mood, then for fucks sake put them back in the mix, out front they are distracting. 

I tickled my taint for  6.0 minutes.

The Meads of Asphodel - English Black Punk Metal

The Meads might be the only metal band who can overuse keyboards and effects and get away with it because the songs are so fucking interesting. Keyboards are a weapon the Meads use to help us, the listeners, understand that there is something in the song requiring our attention. In one of their songs (on another album) all music stops other than keyboards and effects while a simple chant is played over and over, “God, is fucking with you,” which after many repetitions becomes “God is fucking with you” which becomes “God is fucking you.”  This, my friends, is genius, pure genius. But, that is for another review at another time. The five songs on this split are all punk rock covers, which the Meads have, "fucked about with."

The first song, "The Embalming of Gods," opens with about two minutes of typical Meads of Asphodel, keyboards and an anti-religious rant. Then the Meads go to work. I love their vocalist, Metatron; if Lemmy ever decides to do black metal, he would be a dead ringer for Metatron.  The Meads of Asphodel like to mix things up in a weird way. Rather than having parts of the song merge into each other, they will often just come to a dead stop in the middle of a song and take off again at a different speed, sometimes with different instruments. This song has several of these dead stops, making it a little hard to follow. 

Next up is "On the Surface." This song opens with what I assume is dialogue borrowed from a horror film. I wasn’t listening close enough to catch all of it, but it has something to do with the “destroyer of worlds” – either a religious reference of some kind or perhaps a jab at organized religion’s destructive tendencies. The Meads frequently venture into religious politics. The song is a rocker, with another one of those abrupt stops in the middle where Metatron makes a speech about robes made of maggots, and smoking the pipe of peace, rape and war “until we breathe no more.” The word “more” is repeated a couple of times, then, with no warning, it’s balls to the wall metal again. This is a very entertaining song.  

The third song, "Same Mind," is a fucking rocker; the Meads go for it immediately. The speed here is much faster than we normally hear from them, and Metatron’s vocals are pushed to their limits; they are very strained. I feel like the Meads overreached on this one, their style just doesn’t lend itself to this kind of aggression. 

I don’t know what to make of the next song, "Nazi." It is driven by a nice guitar crunch and abused keyboards. I know it’s a cover song, and they are probably trying to stay true to the intent of the original performer, but the keyboards overtake the other instruments. But, it is only temporary, towards the end of the song the keyboards disappear and the guitar finally comes forward. Now it sounds a little like Iron Maiden.
  
"Protest and Resist" starts with a slow groove, but explodes into The Meads interpretation of a hardcore punk song, which means growly vocals. The lyrics seem to be about how to organize a mass into a political force, but I can’t make out enough of the lyrics to understand it. This is a cool song.  

"War Drum," is almost unrecognizable as a punk song. I am unfamiliar with the original song, but I feel like The Meads have introduced enough heaviness and speed to transform bring it into the metal realm. The vocals work well here. The speed of the vocals is not nearly as fast as the accompanying music. There is some exceptional drumming on this song. War Drum is quite good, and The Meads version of it reminds me of some of Motorhead’s faster moments.

Warning! Kinks fans may want to stop reading at this point. The Meads cover "You Really Got Me." If you are a fan of the Kinks then you will hate this song. On the one hand, the Meads butcher it. On the other hand, they are just having fun and it is obvious. I suspect they decided to fuck it up on purpose; Metatron uses more of a guttural cookie monster vocal style than usual.

There are some fun moments on The Meads of Asphodel’s part of this split CD. But, it is far from their best work. For The Meads, speed kills. Their style is somewhat clunky and the vocals do not work well when pushed forward at break-neck speed as they were on this album. 

I tickled my taint for 7 minutes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Emmylou Harris - Wrecking Ball

(Elektra, 1995)

Reviewed by Scott.

As an album title, Wrecking Ball is both misleading and appropriate. It’s true that this album represents a big shift in Emmylou Harris’s sound – a radical shift, maybe – but it’s not like she let swing a two-ton iron ball into the façade of her musical identity, demolishing her image as a beloved country icon in one fell swoop. She’s still Emmylou here, with that unmistakable voice, and the music fits comfortably into some broad Americana tradition, albeit in a modern way. So it’s not quite a demolition but maybe a renovation, or maybe taking a sturdy and familiar structure and building an addition that sticks out a bit but casts the entire structure in a new light. 

But enough with the bad architecture metaphors. This album is like a wrecking ball in the sense that it doesn’t fucking hesitate: when it needs to do its thing, it’ll plow through whatever’s in the way with total confidence. Not to say this is a balls-to-the-wall rocker, mood-wise. Quite the opposite. This album simmers in a sort of understated (and supremely tasteful) way. But the point is that Emmylou doesn’t sound like she’s having second thoughts about her substantially altered sound here. She embraces it, lets go of any doubt, and the emotional and aesthetic inertia of the material does the rest. Fuck yeah.

This confidence in apparent in the choice of songs. Emmylou is a major figure in her own right, and she isn’t afraid of tackling songs by some pretty major artists: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, even Jimi Hendrix. (Neil Young wrote the title track, from which the album took its name; he, Williams, and Earle all show up on here to play or sing, too.) 

For the most part, the songs are recognizable but slightly transformed (much like how the vibe of the album compares to her previous work). Take “Goodbye,” one of my favorite Steve Earle songs and a standout track here. Earle’s original version is pretty spare: just an acoustic guitar or two, a harmonica, and the man himself, sounding like he’s so heartbroken and drunk he can barely get the words out. It’s simple and gorgeous, pure emotion. Emmylou’s version is something else entirely (and this has a lot to do with producer Daniel Lanois). If you turn up the volume for this track, you hear some hand drums and a shaker, kind of a pulsing beat, and Steve Earle picking out the notes of a chord, quietly. Then the guitar stops, he slowly counts off, “1… 2…” and Emmylou interjects with “3” before Earle continues “1234” and the rest of the instrumentation comes in, lush and atmospheric. Was this just some kind of scrap of studio noise they didn’t bother to cut out? Doubtful. This song is about heartache and regret and attempting to move on (“I can’t remember if we said goodbye”) – notice the way Emmylou sort of joins up with Earle counting off, but it immediately falls apart and he “moves on,” counting it off without her? It’s like a memory from a past relationship rushing up to start the song (which is all about remembering), re-enacting that relationship’s demise and then moving us forward in time to the point where the singer can only sit and recollect, dismayed by the abrupt and messy way it all ended. That’s fucking amazing! And when Emmylou sings the line “But I recall, all of them nights down in Mexico, one place I may never go, in my life again,” she does that signature thing where she hits a high note (on “recall”) and her voice just sort of evaporates into an airy whisper. It’s like that memory she’s trying to hold on to is vanishing into thin air. (When Earle sings the line, you can practically smell the tequila on his breath, which works well for his version.)   

I’m not sure if this is the best song on the album, but it’s close – and this is an album with a lot of strong songs. Jimi Hendrix’s “May This Be Love” might seem random, but it blends in with the lush soundscapes of the other songs pretty nicely. I have mixed feelings about the cover of Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl,” though. The reason the original works so well (as with most of Welch’s songs) is that it’s so bare and stark; here it’s dressed up with all kinds of percussion and reverb and back-up vocals, and it feels little overdone. And to be honest, I was never a huge fan of the title track, Neil Young’s original version or otherwise. But it’s grown on me – it’s one of those (possible) love songs that Young is so good at writing: a little melancholy and tinged with darkness. That being said, there isn’t really a bad song on here, and the title track “Where Will I Be” (written by Lanois, and recorded by him years later on his own album Here Is What Is) is one of my favorite opening tracks for an album. (In particular check out that syncopated beat that kicks everything off, provided by the great Brian Blade who drops in for this one song, and then is replaced by U2’s Larry Mullen Jr. for the remainder of the album.)

It’s worth mentioning producer Daniel Lanois again – he performs multiple instruments on every track, sings back-up and duet vocals, and wrote some of the material. But the whole vibe of this album is his creation, and if you aren’t the type of person who likes albums that sound “created” in the studio, you might not dig it. But if you appreciate deep textures and recording effects and creative mixing, you’ll enjoy Lanois’s take on this classic voice (see also his Dylan albums, and the newest Neil Young album, itself sort of a tribute to the producer, Le Noise). A nice counterpart to Wrecking Ball is Lanois’s own debut solo album, Acadie, which evokes a similar mood, and is just about as consistent and enduring a recording as this.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Roundup of Recently Released Punk Records

Review by Class Warrior


I have spent much of my leisure time the last few nights working on a very long review – my magnum opus, if you will permit me the indulgence. In order to keep the record-reviewing endeavor fun for myself, I have decided to take a break from it and look at some punk seven inches and albums that have been released in the past year or two. None of these warrants a full-length review on their own, so I have compiled them into one.

Autistic Youth – Idle Minds LP (2010) – I saw this band in 2007 in Portland, and they made absolutely no impression on me. This record, however, is pretty awesome. I’ve only had time to listen to it once, but I’m looking forward to exploring it more. Good, catchy mid-tempo punk songs with interesting bass parts, good, strong singing, and an emphasis on melodic songwriting. There are even some background shouts and harmonies! Not boring at all. For a starting point, think early 80s Southern California with a touch of the Wipers (AY are from Portland, after all!), but they are not just derivative. This release has some style! If you are looking for a current punk band to listen to, you could do a lot worse (trust me on this – and see below!) than Autistic Youth. Too early to rate accurately, but right now I’ll give them eight punk points. Everything’s better when it comes from the Northwest – that includes beer, women (and men, I suppose, for I am a NWer by birth [even though currently I am in the Frozen North]), and punk bands!

Bloody Gears – s/t 7” (2010) – I liked this EP, but they wear their Wipers influence on their sleeves a little too prominently. The vocalist’s style bears an uncanny resemblance to Greg Sage. When a band sounds almost like another band, I ask myself: would I rather listen to this band or the band that influenced them? In this case, I would rather put on the Wipers’ first album (or their second or third, for that matter). At least they didn’t remind me of some crappy band. Five punk points. If they develop a bit of their own style on future releases, I can see their punk points shooting way up.

The Bombettes – You Have No Chance, Lance 7” (2009) – Ugh. This group has all the elements of bands that I’m a sucker for—emphasis on melody, an attempt at that 1977 sound, and female vocals being the three most important—but the components do not come together at all. The phrase that comes to mind when I listen to this is “aggressively boring.” The choruses are the weak point – the verses and instrumental parts provide an okay buildup, but the band and singer bungle the choruses in an aggressively boring way. The lyrics I bothered to listen to were aggressively boring lines about love. Damn it, I want to like this band, but they bring nothing to the (turn)table that distinguishes them from the many thousands of bands that have played this style of punk rock. The good news is that it sounded slightly better the second time I listened to it. I can’t see myself listening to it a third time, however. Three punk points.

Defect Defect – s/t 12” (2010) – Another Portland band. They take their name from a Wipers song, which is a valid reference. I saw them at the same show as Autistic Youth (and the Vicious from Sweden, who put on a great performance. I saw some bands that night that ended up being fucking great!). I bought their 7 inch there; it sounded so run-of-the-mill that I never played it again after the first time. This record is a dramatic improvement from their earlier effort. Early Wipers meets hardcore punk, done with intensity and style. I dig this. I can see myself listening to this more than a few times, which is all I can ask of a band. Seven punk points.

Direct Control – Farewell LP (2009) – I love Direct Control. They are (or were, I should say, as they have disbanded) the best of the early eighties hardcore revival bands that seemed to be omnipresent in the middle part of this decade. Other groups had the sound, but they were missing something – I think it was DC’s vocals (done by guitarist Brandon) that set them apart. This is a short album – it contains nine short fast blasts of righteous ripping hardcore punk. It’s over in about fifteen minutes. Nothing has changed from their demo and first EP; these songs are full of angry shouts and power chord crunch. No blast beats, no double bass, just fast HC the way Reagan liked it. The second song “Mortality” kinda reminded me of the old Italian bands Wretched and Indigesti, which is a very awesome thing to be reminded of, in case you’re wondering. I’m not always in the mood for music like this, but when I am, I reach for Direct Control records as often as any other band. Eight and a half punk points.

Insubordinates – s/t LP (2010) – I have to admit that I haven’t listened to this all the way through, nor do I have any plans to finish it. I should like this. The band plays some solid early 80s LA punk with some saxophone here and there. Right up my alley, even if it is derivative and the style is done almost to death. The component of this band’s style that makes it sound like nails on a chalkboard is the singer. He has a high-pitched whiny screech that just irritates the hell out of me. I haven’t read the lyrics, but I get the feeling he’s not singing about anything that’s meaningful to me. I could be wrong, though. Two punk points, all of which go to the instrument players.

Knuste Ruter – Var Det Bare En Logn 7” (2008) – This little platter rocked hard from the first note to the last. They are from Norway, which makes a lot of sense – they remind me of country mates So Much Hate, who were around in the late 80s and very early 90s. Knuste Ruter’s sound is a little more straightforward, but in a similar vein. 80s Euro hardcore, which is a reference that will make sense to you if you’re familiar with the sound. Another comparison would be one of my personal favorites Siste Dagers Helvete, who also were from Norway. Apparently Knuste Ruter has a full length out now, which I will try to track down. Eight punk points!

Red Dons – Fake Meets Failure LP (2010) – This band emerged from the ashes of the Observers, who never made much of an impression on me. This record is different. It is making one hell of an impression! These folks have the Southern Cal meets Wipers sound that seems so popular these days, but there’s a ton of stuff going on in the background of the songs that helps to lift this band above the teeming horde. There’s some really nice guitar work on here – good soloing and nifty lead parts. Solid drumming. Vocals with character, a very slight amount of grit, and the ability to carry a tune. Lyrics are interesting and not cliché. The production is slick without detracting from the punkness of the band’s sound. Some of the songs are a little too long, but not everything can be perfect. Get your hands on this album, for it is worth at least eight punk points!

Tranzmitors – Busy Singles LP (2009) – I first heard this band when I found their song “Bigger Houses, Broken Homes” online (probably on Myspace or the Deranged Records website) in 2005. I found the single in a Portland record store several months later and bought it. That song leads off the album, and it is great. Easily the best song on here. These Vancouver, B.C. natives, along with bands like the Exploding Hearts, were one of the first groups to look back to the time-honored power pop sound of the late seventies and early eighties. When they hit (like with “Bigger Houses”), they hit hard. The best songs have a strong driving sound and clever lyrics. Even though this is a singles collection, don’t expect hit after hit. Their formula doesn’t hold up quite as well over an entire album. I noticed this on their full length album from a couple years ago – there were several strong songs, but the rest just weighed down the LP. Power pop songs need a hook, and a lot of the Tranzmitors’ tunes just don’t have a good one. The album is worth buying just for “Bigger Houses,” though. It holds its own compared to any power pop songs you want to mention.

For the record, there are two covers on here – one done originally by White Heat (which blows away the cover – the original has a desperate RICK SPRINGFIELD sound mixed with late 70s cheap production, which is almost impossible to recreate effectively) and another by the Moondogs (I haven’t heard the original). Six and a half punk points/skinny ties.

That just about wraps it up. Stay punk.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Pixies - Doolittle

(4AD, 1989)

Why you should own it…I’ll make it brief and contextual.

By Anita Papsmear

Why should you own this CD? Because it’s one of the best CDs of all time. If you own it, you know that. If you don’t, shut your fucking mouth, get your bus pass, go to the nearest cool place, and buy it. KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, you aren’t done yet! Go home, unwrap the fucker, and put it in the player (we are doing this old school). Press play and turn it up (still keeping your pie hole shut). Listen to the entire CD—start to finish. It may challenge you here and there, just stick with it. I dare you to not hum to a harmony, tap a foot to a bass line, bang your head on something hard to the beat of the fine drumming, or make some sort of sound to a guitar riff. Like any masterpiece, it just gets better the more you soak it in.

If you have ever dismissed The Pixies because you heard “Here Comes Your Man” a long time ago and figured you knew what they were all about, you figured wrong. Although “Here Comes Your Man” is still one of the catchiest little ditties out there, The Pixies have mastered the complexities of a varied musical palette. Hailing from Boston (fucking GREAT town), these folks met and started playing music in 1986. From diverse backgrounds came an eclectic sound—much different than what was coming out of people’s radios at that time (and at the time, radio was pretty much all we had; although MTV DID play music back then—not enough bands like The Pixies though). With lyrics as equally dark and strange as they were humorous, there was something truly different about this band.

Got me a movie

I want you to know

Slicing up eyeballs

I want you to know

Girlie so groovy

I want you to know

Don’t know about you

But I’m un chien andalusia

(lyrics from “Debaser”)

Front man, Frank Black (aka Black Francis—not to be confused with Serious Black, Potter fans), wielding his guitar and his voice as weapons, matched with the soothing, upbeat harmonies and bass of Kim Deal (stage name Mrs. John Murphy), Joey Santiago’s infectious and meticulous guitar, and Dave Lovering’s on-point drumming. They comprised a foursome that really couldn’t work with one of them missing. This band is the epitome of punk rock—just a bit more modern sounding. From whimsical, honey-laden melodies to more hard-core rock rhythms, sometimes the biggest challenge is to try to figure out the lyrics. One of my favorite things about this band is their ability to take a single word or a simple phrase and, just by the way it is sung, give the song its own unique personality. A simple, “Yoo hoo,” “La La,” or “Hey”—you know it’s a Pixie with something to say!

Hey

Been trying to meet you

Hey

Must be a devil between us

Or whores in my head

Whores at my door

Whores in my bed

But hey

Where

Have you

Been

(lyrics from “Hey”)

I had the extreme pleasure of meeting this band on a few different occasions. The first was when they opened for The Cure (also on the bill Love & Rockets and Shelleyan Orphan) at the old Fiddler’s Green in Denver, Colorado. It was September of 1989 and Doolittle had been out for just a little while. Most people were still unfamiliar with The Pixies, so fortunately they were doing some press (I was DJing & VJing at the time). After their interview, we decided to take The Pixies to a food fair that was going on. Kim was waiting on a call from her sister (no cell phones in those days), so she declined (but did request we bring her back something chocolate—which we did). Our producer Doug McVehil (hollah) took Frank out to do some other things and my friend and I took Dave and Joey to the fair. We ate some good food, talked a lot about music and traveling, and had a great time. Dave and I both had siblings that went to MIT in Boston. A short while after the Fiddler’s show, the Pixies returned to Denver. Although it was very apparent their fame had been sent into hyper-drive, their spirits were high and they seemed genuinely excited about it all (and a little exhausted too!). My cousin had caught their live show (two weeks prior to this second Denver show) at Toad’s Place in Connecticut. He wore only a diaper. He stood in the front row, right in front of Kim, and screamed the entire night. I had to ask her if she remembered such a sight at Toad’s. She laughed and said she did remember the “diaper guy.” She wasn’t sure if he was having fun or just what was going on. I assured her that he was having ALOT of fun—he was so excited to see them. It’s hard not to love Kim. My few encounters with her were utterly charming. At this second show in D-town, she was anxious to know if we could see her glitter nail polish from the stage. Sadly, no.

Got hair in a girl

that flows to her bones

and a comb in her pocket

if the wind gets blown

stripes on her eyes when she walks slow

but her face falls down

when she go, go, go

black tear falling on my lazy queen

gotta tattooed tit say number 13

(lyrics from “Number 13”)

Anywho, back to Doolittle. This is not The Pixies’ first full-length album. It is their second and a masterpiece that should be in any serious music collection. Once you fall for Doolittle, move directly on to Surfer Rosa. Some would argue that Surfer Rosa is their best. I could agree to that too…I love both. Surfer Rosa includes the Come On Pigrim EP as well—two for the price of one! Steve Albini (Big Black) put his midas spin on this disc and it is equally as great, with tunes like “Broken Face,” “Bone Machine,” “Vamos,” and “Tony’s Theme.” My favorite Pixies’ moments are when Frank and Kim are echoing each other, playing with the lyrics in their own individual ways, but somehow magically flowing together.

Of course, these days Frank has a solid solo career. He is a prolific talent and I am never disappointed with any of his releases. He can go from sugary to seething in one sentence; his exuberance for his craft is evident. Kim went on to form The Breeders with Tanya Donnelly (Throwing Muses/Belly) and Kelley Deal (Kim’s twin sis, who later joined the band), and there’s some great stuff there. Joey played lead guitar on some of Frank’s solo CDs, and then later formed his own band with wife, Linda Mallari, called The Martinis. Joey has also composed music for TV commercials. Dave has kept himself busy with a couple things—he’s a multi-talented dude. In addition to having drummed with several other acts (The Martinis, Cracker, Nitzer Ebb, and Tanya Donelly), he also pursued a magic career as The Scientific Phenomenalist, performing scientific and physics-based experiments on stage. Although The Pixies broke up in 1993 (actually, 1992 but they didn’t tell anyone for awhile), when they reunited in 2004, Dave returned as their drummer.

So, whether you are new to The Pixies or have never heard much of their work, I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up some CDs and listen. If not, you suck! Just kidding! Hugs!

All I’m saying pretty baby

la la love you don’t mean maybe

all I’m saying pretty baby

first base

second base

third base

home run

(lyrics from “La La Love You”)

Doolittle & Surfer Rosa both get 5 out of 5 smears!

Monday, January 3, 2011

America – History: America’s Greatest Hits


(Warner Bros., 1975)
Reviewed by SoDak

There I was, on my back, naked from the waist down. The radio in the room was playing popular songs from the 1970s. It was immediately obvious to me that this experience was going to change my connection to the songs that I heard on that day. A woman with long black hair entered the room, took a look at me, and said, “Good, you are ready.” She walked to my side and prepared herself. I felt a soft, moist cloth on my skin. My willie was flipped back and forth a couple of times. So far everything was very professional. Suddenly, she said, “Ops, sorry about that.” I was not sure what she was apologizing for, so I said, “No problem. All of this is awkward anyway.”
I heard the opening notes of “Windy” by the Association on the radio. My genitals tingled as the Betadine evaporated. “You may feel a slight pinch here, but this will only take a second.” Two shots were injected into my scrotal area. I softly sang the chorus, “And Windy has stormy eyes, that flash at the sound of lies, and Windy has wings to fly, above the clouds (above the clouds).” A couple minutes later the doctor entered the room; I was comfortably numb. As he picked up his instruments, the harmony of the two guitars on the opening of “Ventura Highway” could be heard. He said, “Sounds like this is your vasectomy song.” All of us laughed, as the clean guitar notes bounced around the room. The hemostatic clamp was placed on my sac, so no incision was necessary. Dewey Bunnel of America sang, “Chewing on a piece of grass, walking down the road. Tell me, how long you gonna stay here Joe? Some people say this town don’t look good in snow. You don’t care, I know.” The three of us hummed along, as the song progressed. The doctor took a moment to share: “Wonderful. Great access. I cut the vasa deferentia. I will be done in a couple minutes. I just need to finish clamping the ends.” The chorus to the song repeated: “Ventura Highway, in the sunshine, where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine! You're gonna go, I know.” A band-aid was put in place. We all looked at each other, pondering the line: “Seasons crying no despair, alligator lizards in the air.” (I have since discovered that “alligator lizards in the air” is a reference to the particular shapes that the writer saw in the clouds.) This simple, happy song is now forever tied to a procedure that ensures that I shoot blanks—or if you will, that no swimmers are present in my baby batter.
Today, I cannot think of the band America without reflecting on this moment in my life. It was not a bad experience. In fact, it was rather humorous; and it is something that I had been planning to do for a long time. Now, I have another interesting association that is mixed in with all the other memories linked to these pop songs by America. When I hear “A Horse with No Name,” I remember sitting in the passenger seat of an old Chevy pickup, rambling down the dirt roads in the Black Hills, as my father looked for a downed tree that he could cut up for firewood. When I hear “Sister Golden Hair” and “Daisy Jane,” I think of the kindling of love and comfortable nights with my partner. Eighteen years ago, we would listen to a Good Time Oldies radio station as we prepared meals, just happy to spend time together. As the song “Don’t Cross the River” bounces along, I recall the years that I spent delivering auto parts for a job. The truck that I drove only had an AM radio and I loved it. Many of my friends worked at the same business and we constantly talked about music. “Muskrat Love” fills me with memories of being carefree while roller-skating under the crystal ball in the 1970s. Years later I finally heard the original version of this song by Willis Alan Ramsey. If you have not heard it, check it out. It has none of the sweet, sticky, studio syrup that is so common with songs by America. (While you are at it, listen to Ramsey’s song “Ballad of Spider John”—it is a great fuckin’ song.) America’s “Tin Man” stirs up memories of running through the sprinkler in the summer, as the radio played recent hit songs. When I hear “Lonely People,” I recall sitting in the backseat of the car, headed to my grandfather’s ranch. I sat with my green handheld radio, trying to get a signal, hoping to hear good songs, while I stared out the window at the open landscape of western South Dakota. Obviously, I am a sucker for sad songs that also contain glimmers of hope.
The band America, like so many others, is interwoven with so many moments in my life. I am not going to make any grand claims for the band or its songs. All I can say is that I enjoy listening to their record, History: America’s Greatest Hits, from time to time. While I first heard all of these songs as singles on the radio, this collection has all the songs that I want to hear by America. Given my personal history, this record is more than an assembly of songs; it is a collection of memories, experiences, and friendships.
Almost every song on History: America’s Greatest Hits includes a recognizable hook. America excelled at writing finely honed pop songs. I love the warm production found on 70s music, especially country and folk rock music of this era. Sure I hear the influence of Neil Young and other artists within these songs, and yes, there are plenty of other bands that are better. And I know that America played soft, catchy, digestible music; and there is nothing challenging here. I do not care. Their songs are part of my life. Now, I have an additional, and intimate, memory associated with this band.