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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Katy Perry and Taylor Swift: An Exercise in Self-Flagellation

Katy Perry (2017) Witness Capitol Records
Taylor Swift (2014) 1989 Big Machine Records

by Kloghole
God, I fucking hate sociologists. Well, not all of them, but most of them. I was sitting in the Montreal airport waiting for my plane, surrounded by the din of sociologists describing their “white people problems” to each other. “Montreal is so hard to get to. At least in Philly, my friends run a day care where I can leave my kids during the day. I’ll pay them of course, but…” Now, I am fucking edgy and sitting on the fucking plane. I try to create a quiz for my Intro class, but the whole first part of the chapter is on theories of psychology. I thought I assigned a fucking Intro to Sociology textbook. Don’t we have any fucking theories of our own regarding culture? Fuck. So, I throw down my glasses, and I can now faintly hear what sounds to me like the bubblegum catterwalling of some underfed pop diva. My mind flashes back to a terrifying memory and the awful reality that I agreed to review Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. So, as I sit on the plane, I craft this little gem right next to the poor fuck with so little self-respect he cannot bother to indulge a musical genre that isn’t chartworthy.

While visiting SoDak, we plundered the local record stores. While sifting through the recent arrivals, I spied Katy Perry’s new release. I had the idea to review some music that I thought I would have difficulty tolerating. It was a self-imposed test of trying to be open-minded about certain musical traditions. I failed fucking miserably. Katy Perry fit this category pretty nicely, so I picked up the cd and dreaded the exercise. To further punish myself, I decided to up the stakes and add Taylor Swift to the review, in light of their “feud.” I chortled loudly at the prospect, probably more out of nervous fear than light-hearted mirth.

This was shortly after Perry dropped her album at midnight, and Swift decided to release her entire collection on streaming music sites. I have to say, I do not know either of them very well, so I cannot really tell which is the bigger asshole in this affair, but I can say that Swift’s timing of her release was certainly a real fuckin’ cunty move. I really don’t care how much you detest someone, but Swift proved herself a grade-A shitbag.

I decided to start with the Perry album, probably because I had a little more sympathy for Perry given Swift’s calculated assholeishness. I really did not want to listen to either of them, but I needed to get it over with. I had to drive back to my hometown, so I figured it would provide a perfect opportunity to listen to the two albums when it would offend the least amount of people and I could (and would) have to listen to them uninterrupted. I also was less likely to go to the liquor cabinet and try to numb my senses.

Well, Perry lived up to all my expectations. Absolute vapid nothingness for nearly an hour. The digital instrumentation added to its sterile sound and message. The highlight of the album was “Miss You More” that seemed to have some gravity of emotion, but otherwise the album was glittery pop nonsense. I think I enjoyed the twist of the lyrics “I miss you more than I loved you.” That lyric might actually fit well in a classic country song, but it would have to have a line in there about who got the pickup and the dog. Even her song that is purported to be direct “dis” of Swift was pretty lifeless (I guess the term is throwing shade now, but that is probably already out of fashion).

It came time to put in the Taylor Swift, and I was dreading it, and soon glad that I played Katy Perry first. Taylor Swift’s sickly-sweet dance beats coupled with inane lyrical meandering left me wanting to strangle myself with anything I could find in the car. I reasoned, in very quick order, that if I had started with Swift, I would have ended to whole sadomasochistic, self-flagellation right then and there.

At one point, I pulled up to an intersection, and had to stop next to other cars. To get the full sonic experience, I was playing the stereo quite loud. Because Perry and Swift rely on digitized drum machines, the car was vibrating in the annoying way those cars do when they drive down your street. Keeping my eyes forward, I just wanted to climb out of the car, stand on the roof, and scream to people, “I am not listening to Swift because I like her. I have to do this for a music review!” What an awful fucking feeling – the idea that someone, somewhere may think I like Taylor Swift enough to turn it up. Fuck me.

The Swift album was an extended disc, and I could not believe how many sonic turds these girls could pack in a single album. I got to song 10 on each disc, and was horrified to find out the torture was far from over. What the fuck Perry? Can’t you stop at 10 like a reasonable fucking human being. Really, 15 songs? Oh shit, I just remembered Swift is an extended disc. Goddammit, son of a bitch, shit, fuck.

My extended torture was thankfully mitigated by some interesting additional tracks at the end of the Swift album. It was like getting a sucker at the doctor’s office after a botched proctology exam. She explained her writing process by providing three demo recordings of her playing guitar or piano and singing along. These brief acoustic arrangements allowed the natural quality of her voice to be paired with simple instrumentation. At its core, she may have some strong, and with better lyrics, emotionally engaging songs. Instead, to sell albums to dimwitted, emotionally immature, pop-culture, shit gobblers, she lathers every fucking song with digital high-fructose corn syrup laced with saccharin and MSG.

If you just listen to Perry and Swift’s voices, you can tell that they possess a dynamic range and potential for emotional and powerful singing. They are undoubtedly talented. I thought Swift’s acoustic tidbits were actually listenable, aside from the lyrics. Even though these two are “talented,” their popularity is not that they exceed the talent of the scores of singers who have been relegated to obscurity. Their popularity is their ability to firmly squeeze themselves into the stereotype of ideal beauty in our patriarchal, sexist, capitalist “paradise.” They are commodities, plain and simple. They perpetuate the objectivity of women by being the exaggeration of that very objectification. We may complain, and I do, about artists that objectify women in their lyrics and behavior, but Perry and Swift live that objectification, perpetuate it, and use it to sell their fucking shitty albums.

Their musical talent is not unique nor exceptional. The crap on those two albums can easily be duplicated by other artists. They do not really stand out in the world of aural diarrhea that is that genre of music. Similarly, I was amazed and horrified to recently hear that Shania Twain is one of the top-selling artists of all time. To think that she has written better songs than … okay, you can list just about any classic country singer. Jesus-fuck, are you fucking kidding me? Treat yourself like a fucking sex-doll, and watch the fucking money roll in.

So to sum, god-fuckin awful. GOD-FUCKIN AWFUL. Like most phenomena we face at this historical moment in time, one side of my brain completely understands the popularity of these two artists given the commodification of everything, including people. There is also the other side of my brain that screams, “What in the fuck are people thinking listening to this shit?” How the fuck did this even make it to market?

My rating for this whole experience is six slimy turd nuggets shooting, pop-gun style, out of my ass in an explosive diarrhea. Goddamn. I am not going to do that again. Fuck me. Oh shit, as I edit this, I am wondering, was it that bad? I have a morbid curiosity to play them again, sort of like when you get a rancid bite of food, and you take another bite because you are not sure. On second thought, I am going with my first instincts. I have a lot of other music I can listen to.

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)

By Dave

I’m gonna review one of my favorite records, because I think new music is shit. As Mike
Patton said, “It’s a new sound, but an old sound….” Living in the land of Danava and Red Fang is like being stuck watching network television all day. You only have one station, and they only play reruns of The A-Team and Dukes of Hazzard....

So what’s this record that doesn’t make me feel like I’m wasting my time, and what’s left of my hearing? It’s Double Nickels on the Dime by the Minutemen—a band that wasn’t really influential, didn’t last very long, but I think they were a life line and a small moment of positive recognition for the people that get it. 

The songs are too short. Many are less than a minute long. The lyrics often meander through abstract diatribes that oddly fit the angular bass lines that drive my favorite songs on this double LP. The best songs on Double Nickels are driven by inventive instrumentation and raw personality. It’s kind of a stripped down eccentric record, for eccentric people hiding in plain sight. If you like this sort of thing, you probably already know about this album. I think Double Nickels on the Dime hits a really great balance between interesting instrumental exploration and compact song structure. There is some traditional verse, chorus song structure on the album that allows D. Boon to tell a couple stories, and expound on his political views, but these moments of recognizable song-smithing come and go quickly in the stream of consciousness that makes this record such a unique experience. It feels like you are on a road trip with the band engaged in a complex discussion of ethics and politics that doesn’t let up to give you a moment to catch your breath. 

The Minutemen fit into a small, but very important group of rock bands that were able to make a mark by being completely honest. I feel that when I listen to their records, that I am getting an intimate window into their lives. They didn’t embrace the performance cliches of rock theatrics, or the conventions of socal contemporaries like Black Flag or the Descendents. They were just three working-class dudes from Pedro, and their rejection of the status quo makes their music all the more moving in its unadorned, quirky humanity. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Men at Work, Business as Usual (1981) and Cargo (1983)

At the start of the 1980s, like so many other people, I became a fan of Men at Work because of their singles “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under.” I recorded these songs from the radio to a cassette tape, so I could listen to them over and over, until I could afford to buy the record Business as Usual. I still love these songs. They are infectious, while being a bit haunting with lyrics such as “these little men come to take me away, why do they follow me.” I was obsessed with “Down Under,” listening to it repeatedly late at night when I supposed to be asleep. The lyrics and music filled my mind with wonderful images and intrigue. I always felt that Men at Work were the Australian version of The Police, given the quirkiness of their songs and how they also incorporated various styles of music, such as reggae and ska. This is not to say they were derivative, as they gave their music a fresh spin. Men at Work were also one of the 80s bands that incorporated the saxophone in a tasteful way.

Men at Work are primarily known for a few of their singles, which are undeniably good. However, the first two records are quite remarkable and present a band who were writing exceptional songs. “I Can See It in Your Eyes” has a strong chorus and speaks of lost love and disappointment. I like the guitar solo and the way the bass moves to the front toward the end of the song. I am drawn to the drive and percussion in “Underground.” “Helpless Automation” sounds like it could be a song by the Split Enz—the new wave band from the New Zealand in the 1970s. (“I Like To” on Cargo also seems like it could be a Split Enz’s song.) It is a very good song, which a punk rock band should cover. Side A of Business as Usual is more immediately assessable, and I listened to it much more than the flipside.

I bought Cargo right when it was released, eager to follow this band. While it is not necessarily as strong as Business as Usual, it is still an interesting record. The opening notes of “Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive” sound like a Huey Lewis song. Nevertheless, Colin Hay’s vocals and some of the additional instrumentation distinguish the song. The chorus is also darker than what would be found on a bright Lewis song. “Overkill,” the second single from the record, is a gem, featuring a nice vocal performance and chorus. I always liked the line, “ghosts appear and fade away,” as we reflect upon the consequences and/or implications of our actions. I was quite taken by “Settle Down My Boy,” with its reggae vibe. Colin Hay sings about the various adult responsibilities being imposed on a young lad. There is a darkness to many of the songs. “No Sign of Yesterday” is a languid song, which speaks to the sheer exhaustion of an individual trying to grapple with a changing world and loss of connections.

Pull out the stop plugs, drain all the waste
Who needs it anyway
Fill all the big holes, leave no trace
No sign of yesterday…

Out in the yard, was such a lovely place
It's where we used to play
Inside, outside you can feel and taste.
No sign of yesterday

While it is not one of my favorite songs, I feel the weight being expressed. One of the stand out tracks on Cargo is “It’s a Mistake,” with a strong Police-influenced, ska-guitar line. “No Restrictions” is a good track, which could easily fit on a record by The Police. In general, Men at Work wrote catchy songs. Colin Hay’s vocals were great. The lyrics were at times terse, but also contained great imagery.

Like most people, I was introduced to Men at Work via their first two videos, “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under,” which were in heavy rotation on MTV in the early 1980s. They were weird and a little bit creepy. They were from Australia. The lead singer had a wondering eye. They were from some far-off land, yet I felt a kinship with them because, at this time, I was living in the blistering Arizona sun. I assumed Australia was similar. Vegemite sandwich, anyone?

Shortly thereafter I played Business as Usual a lot. I liked it and still think it is great. All the songs are good—very up-beat, new wave-type stuff. I really liked their lyrics, which always seemed to be harboring some sort of secret. Often, I would think, “What is this song really about?” They still maintain that mystique to this day, and “Down by the Sea” continues to haunt me after all these years. 

Listen to your heart
Screamin’ at the sky
Can’t you feel it tremble?
Don’t you wonder why?

I still pull the record out and listen to it a couple of times a year. It always takes me back to the early 80s and the burning Arizona sun; yet, it also still sounds fresh, somehow. The unusual personality of their sound remains intact. Also, I always picked up a certain working-class sensibility in their work.

I never owned their second album, Cargo, but I knew the singles that were played on the radio. Men at Work were a good band. I am always surprised when I am reminded that they only recorded three records.

‘Are you going to play football this year, John?’
‘Oh, well you must be going to play cricket this year then? Are you Johnny?’
‘No! no! no!’
‘Boy, you sure are a funny kid, Johnny, but I like you! So tell me,
what kind of a boy are you, John?’

‘I only like dreaming
All the day long
Where no one is screaming.’

I felt a certain kinship.

Wait!?! Men at Work had more songs than “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under”?

As you may know, I grew up in a town with limited access to music. I am not sure why, when, or how Men at Work caught my ear. My guess it was the quirky “Who Can It Be Now?” or the even quirkier “Down Under.” You youngsters may not realize this, but when we tried to figure out what the fuck a “vegemite” sandwich was, we couldn’t just look it up on the internet. We actually had to do a bit of research. My cousin would bring up, from Dubuque, radio recordings of Dr. Dementia, and we would giggle our way through the strange songs. I vaguely remember a song about poppies and another about dead fish. Men at Work was goofy enough not to be a serious attempt at pop music or the “easy listening” that dominated my local radio station that was anything but easy to listen to.

For that reason, Men at Work’s Business as Usual was one of the first cassettes I spent my “hard-earned” allowance on. I still have it and Cargo, which I also picked up. Without listening to the tracks to remind me, I do recall the infectiousness of “Be Good Johnny” and that “Helpless Automaton” caught my attention. Cargo is a bit more nebulous in my recollection. The first track “Dr. Heckyll & Mr. Jive” seems familiar, but I cannot pick out the tune.

The release date for Business as Usual is around 1981 or 82, based on print date on my cassette. I was either finishing up junior high or starting high school. At that point in my life, I was still trying to use humor to spackle over the challenges of my youth. I was slowly moving from my class-clown defense to my angry-teen stage as life kept throwing me curve balls. Men at Work, Huey Lewis, and Stray Cats probably represent the last of my goofy, quirky stage before I began my slow descent into alcohol-fueled violent depression and the more appropriate rock and heavier metal. I can justify Men at Work because of my age when I first enjoyed them, but I still get a nostalgic buzz from them.

Looking over my well-worn cassettes, I noticed the scotch tape used on Cargo as attempted cassette surgery. I do not recall if I was successful, but the tape developed a high pitched squeak. I think I replaced the inner film, or the spools using some other donor cassette. I am going to give Cargo a listen and get back to you….

I can say 35 years has not been kind to my cassette (Business as Usual did not fare any better). The sound is quite muddy and drops out at times. The squeak was almost as unbearable as the two artists I recently endured for a future review. I will keep you all in suspense, but I will give you a hint—they have been feuding recently—that should narrow it down!

 “Overkill” brings back memories of fucking around with my D&D beginners set and obsessing over my growing Star Wars action figure collection. Men at Work definitely have their own sound. I am not sure that it would be anything that I would be drawn to today if I had never heard them, but there are certain elements that I still find interesting. If you are able to get past the 1980s synth, “No Sign of Yesterday” is a bit haunting in its sound and lyrical content. “It’s a Mistake” seems to be a comment on something, but I am not sure—war, Reagan, police violence?

“High Wire” is pretty trippy, and contains the line, “I may be an idiot but indeed I am no fool.” I am sure that line resonated with my mid-teens angst. What is really weird about these albums is that, on their face, they are exactly the genre of music that made me want to vomit. Perhaps, they just caught me at the right time in the right mood. “I Like To” is certainly new wavy as I understand it, but it is just too weird for me to take it seriously. I like the song, more for the weird sense of humor than the music itself.

Overall, I am not sure how seriously Men at Work took themselves, especially since the photo on the inside of the jacket is the band, all in tuxes, sitting on shitters and stools in a restroom. For nostalgia’s sake, I give the two albums one sweet sticky ball, maybe two if someone could find me a CD of Cargo. It was nice to go back down memory lane.

Sweet Dreams Motherfuckers.