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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Amy Grant, The Collection


From time to time, the taint ticklers like to experiment, to step outside our normal listening realm. Each of the reviewers agreed to review a religious record. What follows is the first of such reviews.

Review by Class Warrior

Gentle reader: I have never listened to this album before last month. I had few preconceptions about the quality of the music. While I have some strong opinions about Grant’s general lyrical topic of choice, I was willing to give it a chance.

Before we get to the actual music, there are a couple of things that intrigue me about Amy Grant. The biggest item is her large gay following. I confess that I don’t understand. Why would a group persecuted by conservative Christians be fans of one of the most visible and popular musicians from this sect? The music is nothing special (but more on that in a bit...), so I am not sure. Now that I think of it, a friend of mine from college was a fan. He was a much bigger follower of Elton John, so, when combined with other information I won’t describe here, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that he was gay but living in the closet. Well, I never claimed to be a genius.... Looking back on it, I realize now that he had a big ol’ thing for me. Unrequited love combined with severe depression and being gay in an unaccepting social structure can do rotten things to a person’s state of mind, so eventually I had to break off all contact with him to preserve my own sanity. His threats of suicide unless I agreed to spend some time with him got pretty old after a while. Ah, the melodramas of college life. I have much more sympathy for him now than I did at the time. I hope he’s doing well, wherever he may be. I’m glad I’m not twenty years old anymore, though.

The above is the first thing that enters my mind when I think of Amy Grant—or Elton John, for that matter.

The second intriguing aspect is that I can’t help comparing Grant’s music to that of her eighties contemporary, Madonna. I’ve been on a Madonna kick for the last couple of months (the early albums only—I do have some standards, minimal as they may be), so the comparison is easy to make. Here are the results of the comparison: Madonna blows Amy Grant out of the water in every single category one would care to measure. It is not close. Madonna has a better, more expressive voice with a much greater vocal range. She can sing low alto up to low soprano (don’t quote me on this), while Grant sticks to the middle octaves exclusively. Madonna’s songs are more memorable. The lyrics...well. Madonna’s lyrics are creative, at least. “Material Girl” is a disgusting bit of rhyme glorifying capitalist excess, but a) that’s lyrically the worst of the bunch; b) I would much rather listen to “Material Girl” than any of Amy Grant’s religious crap. I cannot say that Madonna’s music is objectively better than Grant’s—I’m willing to allow for taste—but it comes as close to being an objective fact as is possible, if that makes any sense. But you don’t have to take my word for it—listen to the Like a Virgin album, the album we’re discussing here, and see what you think. Or, better yet, skip Amy Grant....

On to Grant’s music!

The Collection begins with four of her (I assume) early attempts at mainstreaming her sound. They are straightforward eighties pop songs without any overt Christian sentiment. They are the most listenable songs on the album. Bland, inoffensive, tolerable, but nothing special. If this were the only style of music she had ever done, we would have all forgotten about her by now, much as we have consigned so many 1980s one-hit wonder bands to the dustbin (deservedly or not). There is absolutely nothing in these four songs that stands out. She would not have gotten the chance to put out the “Heart in Motion” album later with her big hit “Baby Baby.” (Now I have that damn song in my head! Curse everything! The only way I can drive out songs from my brain is to think of the most annoying tune ever, which is “Love Shack” by the B-52s.) These songs wouldn’t be acceptable as the soundtrack to a Huggies commercial because they’re just not memorable enough. There’s nothing for the baby piss to soak into, so to speak. It just ends up running down the infant’s leg (and taint), soaking the kid’s pajamas and getting the sheets all wet and stinky.

The Collection takes on a different tone from the fifth song until the end. Much like a fisher (of men) who has to “play” the fish before reeling it in, she tries to draw in the listener with pop songs, then shift to the Message when the moment is right. At this point Grant breaks out the bible (evangelical version—King James, right? [or King Jimmy “Explosive Diarrhea” B]) and gets down with Jesus. I can handle an occasional Christian-themed lyric, if it’s done well. Think Jimmy Cliff performing “The Harder They Come.” Cliff’s version of Christianity is something that I would be able to support—religious sentiment becomes a way to put social harm in perspective, to forgive transgressions, and to strive to change the world in positive ways. There is a long history of Christian work along these lines. The Catholic Worker movement is the first thing that pops into my mind, but it’s only one example. (Go read Dorothy Day’s autobiography The Long Loneliness and you’ll see what I mean. Seriously, read it.) There is nothing socially conscious about Grant’s songs—they’re all about establishing a personal relationship with the Savior and staying within that relationship. This is the most unproductive response to oppressive social conditions that I can imagine. Forget about all the shit going on and how it affects you. Never mind that capitalist industry is using up your planet, its creatures, and your neighbors like a vampiric inferno. Turn inward, turn to Jesass and the Lard, and you will secure your ticket to the good life for all eternity. Put aside the “vale of tears,” the harshness and cruelty of your world, and try to get by until you are Called. It’s certainly easier to take this approach, but if I may, I’d like to call you away from the church and back to the real world. We need you here in the struggle to make this place better, not with your head in the clouds (or, less charitably, up your ass).

I have a feeling that Grant owes most of her popularity to what she’s singing (and to her “wholesome” good looks, whatever that means), not how she sang it. Again, there is nothing to report as far as interesting music is concerned, regardless of whether it falls under the pop or Christian category. If she tried, from the beginning of her career, to make a go of it as a mainstream pop singer, I don’t think there’s any way she would have made it.

I wish I could say something positive about Amy Grant’s music. I was hoping that this album would end up being a guilty pleasure. It appears to me, though, that she is encouraging the most irresponsible sort of behavior possible. She is a propagandist peddling the worst kind of escapism to hordes of working-class people looking for an answer to why they feel so much pain. Not recommended on any level—not musically, and certainly not lyrically. You’re better off listening to just about anything else. If you want specifically Christian music (which would surprise the hell out of me, dear Tickle Your Taint devotee), you could dig up something much more meaningful and interesting, I’m sure.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Ray LaMontagne, Supernova

(RCA Records, 2014)

Review by Five-Inch Taint

            Well, it’s been a while since I last contributed a music review for this website. At first, I contributed this silence to a general laziness and moral malaise. While that may still be the case, I just could not get over the feeling that it was something else. You see, during that time period, I have had this bad feeling in my gut. No, not the intuition type of bad feeling. Rather, more like a physical pain and sickness that I didn’t quite understand. I tried everything I could think of to get over this feeling and move on the path to well-being: juice-detoxing, exercise, eating more vegetables. Nothing was working! My despair grew as I felt I would never overcome this stomach pain. However, at my gloomiest moment, I came across a ray of light in the form of new and exciting scientific research dealing the relationship between the microflora in our gastrointestinal tract and various stomach and other health ailments. While not necessarily new, scientists have begun to focus on the relationship between the bacteria in our guts and numerous health outcomes. The health benefits of foods depend on the ability of bacteria to break it down to release all the nutritional goodness contained within the food. You see, my poor health might not have been due to a bad diet (consisting mainly of faux chicken and cheezey sausage wraps). Maybe I just have bad bacteria.
            With this discovery there comes both good and bad news. The good news is that scientists are beginning to understand this better and have developed a breakthrough for dealing with bad bacteria. Many scientists are now convinced that we need to flush out the bad bacteria and insert better bacteria into our colons. In other words, you need a fecal matter transplant. Typically what happens is you have a fecal donor who shits in a toilet hat, collecting a sample to bring to the hospital. Doctors at the hospital hand it off to a lab technician who has the unenviable job of making the fecal matter available for transplant from one person to another. In a laboratory, which must have been Freud’s wet dream, the shit is put in a blender as all the noxious gases are sucked out, creating a liquid not unlike the weak coffee with creamer you may be sipping now. The fecal matter is put in little vials, handed off to the doctor, and then, in an operating room, inserted up your butt and dropped off at strategic locations along your Hershey highway. That’s the good news. Now, onto the bad news. This procedure isn’t available everywhere. And, as is typical with any other scientific advancement, the great state of Utah has yet to sanction fecal matter transplant as a viable procedure. Thus, I am forced to administer the transplant myself. After spending many months perusing craigslist for potential…ahem…donors…ahem…I was at a loss and was giving up my search for a shit-donor. My salvation, however, came in a surprise shit-package in the form of Ray LaMontagne’s new album, Supernova.
            After listening to it for the first time, I knew that I had found a potent and seemingly endless supply of shit. I mean, from the very first track I became excited by the sheer amount of shit that was coming from my speakers. I almost couldn’t get the Tupperware out fast enough to collect the excrement. LaMontagne’s typical singer/songwriter approach seems to have been replaced by what I can only imagine is his interpretation of ‘60s style psych-pop. The first track, “Lavendar,” was just a gentle introduction to the coming shitnami. It does not take long for the shit seeds to get planted. LaMontagne’s usual emotional depth, accentuated by his voice, is seemingly eliminated in the overlaid vocals. Instead of descending into the deepness of his usually soulful lyrics, the vocals seem ethereal and slightly insincere, lacking conviction. Although, this track represents somewhat of a departure from LaMontagne’s typical slow burn to more of a driving psychedelic rock—this theme runs throughout the album. That, perhaps, is the biggest failure in the album.
            While I applaud LaMontagne for attempting to evolve his musical style, this album seems to lack the originality that it seeks out. The album Supernova is what I like to call a shit flower. It looks like a regular flower, but when you get down and poke your nose in it you realize it’s a shit flower…a whole bouquet of it. There are, though, a couple of real flowers that stick out in this shit bouquet. “Ojai” has that great folk-rock sound that really allows LaMontagne’s voice to shine and carry out the complexity of the lyrics. On this track, his tone and cadence work well with the relatively (compared to the rest of the album) stripped down song. With that said, however, the song draws on for quite awhile losing any favor that the song gained. The final song on the album “Drive-in Movies” follows this similar frustrating pattern. LaMontagne’s lyrics and voice are strong but drowned out by overdoing it. There are so many layers to the song (such as the overlaid vocals [I’ve never been a fan of ooh’s and aah’s]) that there is little room for his voice and lyrics to really shine.
Like a nugget of gold gilded in turd Supernova is hard to swallow. Although I was generally disappointed with the album, it does provide the perfect fodder for my desperately needed fecal matter transplant. As of now, it’s time for me to gather my shit basket and start harvesting from this shit abyss.