Follow @SteadyStateSea from 7-9pm tonight live at Havana Social Club (havanasocial.com) in Seattle, as I play stuff! It’s free to attend as always. Here’s what I played last week. I live-tweet the songs as I choose them. I also draw them, which ends up as the promo pic of NEXT week’s Steady State.
Hari Kondabolu’s Waiting For 2042 is the most important American release of 2014. Not just in comedy, but for any audio recording. Consider it hyperbole, but I haven’t listened to any release more than Waiting For 2042 this entire year, and no other release has resonated as clearly, for better and worse.
"Importance" is something I rarely attribute to the quality of a music/rock/pop/comedy/etc. release. There are very "2014" jokes in this album, which I know will seem less important with the passing of time. However, the very tactful, surreal, and obviously hilarious takes on racism, misogyny, gay rights, and other cultural topics are more than enough to keep this listenable for years to come. Moreover, this is something that can be shared with the family, and that timelessness is what ultimately makes a quality release.
Of course, there are several classic comedy albums since the 50s, but I hesitate to put many of them on pedestals because I find that many cults of comedy seem to gravitate towards the SCREAMING WHITE MAN. This is a personal issue I have with these albums. What comedians like Lenny Bruce (especially circa mid 60s), Bill Hicks, and George Carlin say are very key and important, but that wall of SCREAMING WHITE MAN is a barrier to me. There’s one recent exception, which is Eddie Pepitone and his amazing album A Great Stillness. Pepitone is definitely a Screaming White Man, but his fragility in his delivery eliminates that barrier. For that reason, Pepitone is an exception.
Kondabolu is very confident without being cocky. He’s happy to publicly offer alternate perceptions or criticisms to his observations, which is what makes his comedy unique. He makes his bits educational without being “mansplain-y.” His comedy is not linear, leading to the occasional surreal takes and confrontation, like on “My Healthcare Plan”, “Flamboyant Heterosexuals”, and “Breastfeeding.”
The key to why Waiting For 2042 is important is a result of the sham of the current American media’s treatment of racial issues, many outlets seemingly bought into the “post-racial” perspective. Kondabolu tears into this notion non-stop without having to directly address it. Sadly, this album dropped mere months before the tragedy of Ferguson, Missouri. In a sad sense, the points raised in this album couldn’t have been better timed. I hesitate to recommend a comedy album for people dealing with that terror, but I will highly recommend Waiting For 2042 as an education release with comedy elements.
Outside important cultural issues that Hari Kondabolu raises, extra gold stars get thrown at Waiting For 2042 for telling the best Rolling Stones and Weezer jokes I ever heard.
Tonight in Seattle, Hari Kondabolu is performing new material at the Comedy Underground in Pioneer Square tonight. http://www.harikondabolu.com/shows/
The Best Reason To Quit Facebook
When I first joined it in 2009, it was like an invitation to a free, giant party with all sorts of friends I knew from different circles and brand new bright friends as a bonus. It was early enough in the party such that one could have private conversations with a few people without having to yell over the party’s din. It was a really exciting time. As opposed to Friendster or Myspace, Facebook felt like “The Real Deal” as far as a utopia of virtual friend connections. Despite being in my late 30s at the time, I was naive enough to let the euphoria lead me too far inside.
I left Facebook the other day (i.e. deactivated, not deleted) because it felt like the morning after that geological micro-era. I had become an addict. I know this because shortly after I left, my brain was still heading over to the browser itching to check out Facebook like it had become a reflex.
I was no longer surprised to find out other people had the same relatively obscure tastes in music and art as I did. That natural joy of meeting such people randomly in real life was now gone.
I was tired of being a cheerleader and sympathizer to everybody equally: whether it was my closest friend, or someone whom I never actually met but had a few good comical comments with, that one day. I had become exhausted.
The primary reason I left Facebook is because I was tired of donating so much of my thoughts and creativity to what is basically a cult — except this cult is one in which barely anyone realizes they play a part. All of that energy could have been invested in myself instead. At the time, however, the impulse to share those thoughts, or nuggets of wisdom, or creativity was more important than me, in essence, because I had become addicted to the immediate reaction of my friends.
Except they’re not really reactions as much as simple reflexes. In a similar way that the writer of “LMFAO” is rarely actually Laughing One’s Fucking Ass Off at the time, a thread of “OMG“‘s or “!!!!!“‘s is rarely a stream of earnest surprise or cheer.
It’s healthier to hear information through a filter, really. It’s more natural. Social media is great to getting out potentially unfiltered news quickly — long before any major media reports on it, if they choose to report it. (Ferguson, Missouri on Twitter is a good example of this.) Otherwise, I don’t think humans are meant to deal with it naturally. The 2014 Israel/Palestine conflict is a good example of something that the Internet is terrible at arbitrating on its own. The truth is: almost everything fits in the latter category.
I recognize my naivety of the above. Nothing I’m saying is intended to be shocking or a revelation. And I’m aware of the irony of posting this on yet another social media site.
On a final note, there is nothing wrong with the Internet on its own — at least yet anyway. We’ve just happened to arrive at at time when major corporations have figured out how to twist and manipulate the Internet as a media source just as they have to done to TV for decades. And if the phrase “Kill Your Television” is open to interpretation beyond TV, why not the corporate-run Internet?
If you live in Seattle, a free drink is waiting for you. Seriously.
Tonight (Sept 11th), it’s not just another Thursday evening post-happy-hour DJ weekly with yours truly….
EACH ATTENDEE gets a free $6 Drink Ticket! That will get you a free well drink (beer, wine, etc) or get you a major discount on a cocktail. More free drink tickets may be available, depending on attendance.
There is no cover.
*You’re totally free to bring your friends too*
Q: What is this?
A: It’s an attempt to have a small house party right in the heart of Capitol Hill in 2014. It’s also just me playing tunes using two old iPods as “decks” for two hours (like every Thursday) while my friends make friends with my friends having free drinks. That’s all!
Q: What music?
A: Free form. It’s mainly deep cuts from the 60s to today: hard rock, psych rock, R&B, dance, disco, post-punk, punk, glam, new wave, indie, weirdo, whatever plus just maybe the occasional hits.
Q: I can use these drink tickets WHEN?
A: September 11th, 7 - 9pm, 2014. Pacific Daylight Time. Not before, not after!
Q: Oh, I can’t make this, or I Don’t Want To Go…?
A: No worries! Hey, stuff happens, that’s the way it goes.
A: It’s been 6 years since I started playing tunes on a weekly basis at Havana Social Club. I’ve managed to stick around all this time and develop a close relationship with the people who make Havana happen. It’s also rare for a weekly gig to last 6 months, much less 6 years. So, this is my way of expressing gratitude to Havana and to my friends over the years for showing up. I’ve made new friends over those years too. And I figure the best way to get allz youze guyz and galz together is free drinks. So, have a drink on me! :-D
Havana Social Club is at 1010 E Pike St in Seattle, between Poquito’s and Sam’s on the north side of Pike. Enter through the parking lot.
Of course, this event is 21+.
Dear AMP Radio and good citizens of Calgary, Alberta, Canada:
I’ve visited your city years ago, and I am very fond of it. Combined with Banff, it’s a treasure. And you have one of the most beautiful record stores in the world, Recordland (although Sloth Records had better selections on my visit, but that’s beside the point.)
Unlike many of my peers, I’m not bothered at all by your decision to embrace a broadcast stream of radio hits that are edited down.
You may not realize that I have extensive experience in editing sound files, as a hobby and — on occasion — for my profession. I also have been a collector of pop records (as well as underground records) since I was 9 years old.
For a healthy amount of money, I will happily edit down your playlist pop songs for you. In many cases, for certain songs, I will REALLY edit down these songs to what I feel are the “bare essences.” Efficiency is an abstract we all need to strive for, in these times of slimming down and increasing resource throughput. And I could generate radio hits that do not even reach 30 seconds in length. In some cases, some songs after my treatment may not even hit the 3 second threshold.
You don’t have to take my offer, and that’s clearly your choice. However, there are advertisers of your fine radio station that may be saddened to know that their potential ad space could be severely shortened without employing my services. Please make the right choice.
Relocation is not an option. It’s the digital age, duh.
We must stop using the word “generation” in the media.
The word is as disappointing a media construct as the word “race” is destructive as a media construct.
"Baby Boomers", "Gen X’ers", and "Gen Y’ers" are only useful for statisticians dealing with population size. That’s it.
The Internet and various world tragedies have changed far more minds than the notion of belonging to a fabricated union based on highly fluid age boundaries. Even then, such a notion is merely a balloon destined to descend, deflate, die, and change nothing.
How Not To Sound Like A Fool When Talking About Mastering, Vinyl, CDs, etc.
Today, I posted a mini-rant on Facebook around the old, current and perpetual audio medium war. It was inspired by a posting by Oliver Wang on his great blog Soul Sides. Here is that entry. I agree with the entry, but the resulting comments from it on various Facebook threads exhibited that there are certain technical issues that are still misunderstood by many. I posted most of the following off the top of my head earlier today, and I was kinda blown away by the positive response. So here it is, with some slight changes and amendments to make it a little less sloppy
- Mastering vinyl from digital sources doesn’t universally suck, nor does it suck at all. It’s the majority of people who have no clue and/or no care for what they’re doing while mastering modern vinyl that suck. The issues that make these vinyl issues suck may easily be a different issue than any digital source or the vinyl part altogether. It could be the player. It’s often cheap headphones or speakers.
- CDs and MP3s are not the same thing — especially 128kbps encoded MP3s. If you equate the two in an argument about “digital” media sucking, you’re a goddamn fool.
- Actually, any debate about the “sound quality” of a certain medium is doomed from the start. “Sound quality” is far too vague a term, yet it’s a phrase that’s all too easy to blurt out. If it’s ever brought up in an argument, either clarify the phrase, or end the argument.
- High-end open reel-to-reel tape has a better frequency range than both vinyl and CD. If you want to brag about Massive Frequency Superiority, show off your 2-inch tape machine instead of your turntable or high-end CD/DVD player.
- Vinyl does not have a wider frequency range than CD audio, for practical purposes. Vinyl can handle higher frequencies than 20kHz, but these are frequencies humans can’t hear. Vinyl does more poorly with low frequencies — circa 20Hz — than CD because of rumble. That’s not vinyl’s fault. That’s your turntable cartridge’s fault. More to the point, it’s the turntable owner who needs to get a more boomin’ cartridge. Either way, CD audio frequency ranges are pretty much the same as vinyl, but without any contact-media complications
- Vinyl’s technical advantage over CDs is its resolution. (Think of frequency range as the range of the color palette, and resolution as how detailed and life-like the painting looks.) Vinyl does not quantize its sound reproduction, which CDs and digital sources do, by definition. However, vinyl is only superior in resolution if the mastering source has equal or higher resolution, such as high-end reel-to-reel tape. That said, that same sound source as uncompressed 16-bit or preferably 24-bit digital audio is barely audibly inferior to reel-to-reel to most people. If the digital source is a low-bit-rate MP3, that MP3 will almost certainly sound better than the vinyl mastered from it.
- A vinyl release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done CD.
- A CD release with minor flaws can easily sound inferior to a well-done vinyl release.
- In the case of the latter two, you may blame the artist, the mixer, the studio, the mastering engineer, the record label, whatever. But don’t blame the medium.
- Replace “vinyl”, “turntable”, “cartridge”, and “rumble” above with "cassette", "cassette deck", "playback head", and "tape hiss" respectively, and you have all you need to know about cassettes vs. CD as well — more or less.
- Most people like the packaging and feel of holding a vinyl release than a CD release or MP3 release, for reasons of rumination, visual art aesthetics, and ergonomics. This is a perfectly valid opinion to uphold. It is no more than an opinion. Yet, that opinion is holding major economic sway these days, whether you like it or not. And "sound quality" has zero to do with vinyl’s high media profile today — except for when you buy and complain about horribly mastered vinyl, in which case go to the first bulletpoint.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY @comedyminusone !
Count Floyd - “Reggae Christmas Eve In Transylvania” from the Count Floyd EP (1982)
The B-52’s “Cake (Original David Byrne Mix)” from the Greek 1982 release of the Mesopotamia EP.
You can’t tell from the front cover, but the difference between the US Mesopotamia EP from 1982 and its initial European counterpart released slightly earlier is quite huge. The tracks on the first-pressing European versions have really long, sparse, dubbed out versions of “Loveland”, “Cake”, and “Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can”, which make up half the EP.
Reportedly, the B-52’s were disappointed with the results from the initial release, so some editing and remixing was done before it got released in the US in 1982. Almost a decade later, Mesopotamia was remixed for a CD reissue (alongside Party Mix!) in 1991 that, yet again, drastically changed the EP tracks — this time in the mix itself, making the songs approximate the classic B-52’s rock sound of their early days.
The 1991 re-release of Mesopotamia has the best mix of all, but the initial European release of the EP is clearly the most interesting, and nearly the best. The extended versions of half of the EP is why.
I’m not interested in knowing if or when there was drama between the B-52’s and David Byrne, the producer of the EP. This is the music business, so drama and disagreements are par for the course if or when they happen. I’m interested in knowing what happened during the journey of making and releasing Mesopotamia that ended up with this drastic juxtaposition between the 1982 releases.
The common theme I hear is “running out of time” — which certainly would explain a lot. While the songs on the EP are a nice if bizarre change from the previous material, the 1982 mixes do sound a bit murky.
Also, I’m wondering if Byrne was trying to Party-Mix!-ize the EP his own way just before the European release and only got half done? Keep in mind that Byrne had just been on a musical journey with Brian Eno, most recently with their collaborative release My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, and before that, Eno producing Talking Heads' Fear Of Music (1979) and Remain In Light (1980) — Byrne of course being a member of Talking Heads.
In brief, David Byrne in 1982 had a brain filled with extra amounts of avant-garde suggestions. The B-52’s certainly were borne out of avant-garde ideas themselves. (Listen to early Yoko Ono, and compare that to the first B-52’s album, notably “Dance This Mess Around” and “Hero Worship.”) I’m not sure Byrne’s avant style was the best match for the B-52’s avant style, in retrospect.
I chose “Cake” from the three tracks exclusive to the initial European Mesopotamia because it’s the most fulfilling of the three tracks — no pun intended — and the song is an eerie precursor to 2000’s dance groups !!! and Out Hud, among others.
Listen and enjoy!
Fine Young Cannibals - “Blue (Version)” from 1985’s “Blue” UK 12” single.
Why the recent Edsel reissues skipped over this older Fine Young Cannibals gem is beyond me. “Blue (Version)” is the definitive version of “Blue” to me, compared to the album version from the self titled album.
While I understand that the album version had to be consistent with the slightly more synth-based production throughout the album, the backing instrumentation on “Blue (Version)” is clearly superior. The Northern Soul style suites Roland Gift’s vocals far better than the sparser album version.
This is ripped from the “Blue” 12” directly, then slightly EQ’d and remastered. If you listen carefully, you can hear the vinyl crackle & pops, especially in the fade out. But I hadn’t encountered even a decent digital recording of this song, so I did this one myself.
The Most Important Record Of My Life
(This entry is a repost from a blogpost entry I did in 2009. The record has come back into my life again, thankfully, hence the repost.)
The Harmony Of The World was the first record I ever bought. I was only 8 years old, and the 25 cents my grandfather gave me to buy this record from a neighborhood garage sale in Pacific Palisades, CA circa 1980 wasn’t technically “my” money. However, I had a choice of records, and my pick was made. And I was holding the money to acquire it. The only other hobby that interested me more than music and computers at that age was astronomy. At that moment, there was nothing cooler in life than space and astronomy.
I had zero interest in Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back (having just been released that year.) Those were just movies. Neither was about real space. Having read several books mainly concentrating on the nine planets and all their discovered satellites at the time, and having my interest in music grow and grow each year, a record about astrononomy was a major score.
I wasted no time putting on this record the moment I got home. I didn’t know what to expect… and what I heard was nothing I would expect.
An 8-year-old doesn’t care how accessible or difficult a song or album is. It’s either cool or it is not cool. Since this was an astronomy record, it was automatically cool. This meant that if I didn’t “get” what I was listening, I was going to force myself to understand why this record was cool, no matter how long it took.
I had no clue what to make of The Harmony Of The World. There’s no singing. There are no voices at all. There are no melodies, and there are no rhythms (to an 8-year-old, that is.) There was a lot of scary humming sounds that went on for a long time. The only fun I could get out of the record was to play around with the speed of playback.
The giant 70’s wooden monstrosity that was my grandparents’ stereo system had a built-in turntable with four record speeds: 16, 33, 45, and 78. I would often just play around with these four speeds whenever I gave The Harmony Of The World my daily listen.
It wasn’t until too long that my mother and grandparents asked me to use headphones whenever I played “that” record. They bought me a pair of headphones just for the purpose of saving their sanity from my super cool astronomy record. “Why don’t you listen to other records? You played that one enough already.” They never realized how much they were daring me to play this record longer and longer every time they asked that. How dare they tell me to put away something they knew I loved. I was always overly obsequious to my elders. I never was when it came to The Harmony Of The World.
Two months later, I was giving up. I was growing tired of trying to figure out why The Harmony Of The World existed. Nonetheless, I refused to toss this record aside. Even though I had moved on to more conventional records by Lipps Inc., The Gap Band, Devo, and XTC, I knew I had something special, and always kept it in a special place since.
Several years later, thanks to two adventurous 80s radio stations in Los Angeles: commercial station KROQ and college radio station KXLU, my tastes in music had expanded beyond mainstream pop and dance circa 1985. I had no friends from grade 7 to 12, so the radio, the record store, and the cooler magazines at the nearby supermarkets were my only source of music discovery. My family always encouraged me to indulge in music, as it certainly was keeping me out of trouble, so I went record shopping every weekend.
The last summer before I headed out to college at UC Irvine in 1989, I came home and played my Happy Flowers record Oof. I put the needle on the track “I Said I Wanna Watch Cartoons.” Happy Flowers were a Charlottesville, VA duo known for making nauseous sounding noise rock with affected baby screaming and elementary bullying as their vocal delivery.
My grandparents and my mother ran into the living room and thought I was choking or dying! They found out it was just the record I was playing. “HOW CAN YOU CALL THIS ‘MUSIC’? YOU SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON RECORDS, AND THIS IS WHAT YOU BUY? THAT’S DISGUSTING!"
Somewhere in the middle of my whole family yelling at me, I turned my head. And for the first time in almost 10 years, my eyes landed on the corner of “that” record poking out from the little pocket inside my grandparents’ still functioning 70’s wooden stereo monolith.
I’ve kept and protected The Harmony Of The World ever since. It changed my life. During those two months of stubbornly listening to the record in all possible manners, this process rendered me immune to being turned away by how weird or odd or experimental any music could be. I also realized I wasn’t constrained to how I wanted to hear my records, thanks to playing around with the speeds on my grandparents’ turntable.
The biggest irony, however, is that I finally understood The Harmony Of The World when I played it for the first time in nearly 10 years — and I became extremely disturbed. I quickly calmed down once I realized the benefits I got from this record. Yet, The Harmony Of The World became and has remained the creepiest record I’ve ever heard.
The full title of the record is: The Harmony Of The World: A Realization for the Ear of JOHANNES KEPLER’S Astronomical Data from Harmonices Mundi 1619. It was made by two Yale professors in 1979: Willie Ruff and John Rodgers.
I was just about to post a link to my vinyl rip of this record, as I had yet to see another copy of this record in existence. However — according to Amazon — this record is currently available for purchase. So I will hold back from my original plan to share the album in light of this discovery. I just purchased the CD, and will report back if this CD’s contents differ from the album’s.
Just take this as a recommendation, in case you’re looking for bowel churning drones — and also to get a small slice of what has changed the course of my music tastes and hence my life.
(So this ended my original post. Now for some postscripts.)
PS: It turns out the version listed on Discogs and available as a CD-R on Amazon is not the version of the record I have! The general idea and sounds are the same, but the available version only has three tracks. Mine has five tracks. More on that in a future post. (FORESHADOWING)
PPS: I only discovered a few months ago that while I knew, since, that this record wasn’t super rare, I had no idea that a sample of the general sound was the intro to a B-52’s single — of all fucking things — “Is That You, Modean?” from Good Stuff. Now,I love the B-52’s (although not a fan of Good Stuff.) But I went through a brief snobbish denial that something so sacred and personal to me had actually been played & ignored several times on MTV in the early 90s and listened to by hundreds of thousands of fans of this group, even if they didn’t know what that was.
My goal is to *cause* the Grand Music Appreciation Loopback
IM LAUGHING SO FUCKING HARD
it gets better
The holy grail of Land Of The Loops rarities, at long last!
Chimera - “Catch Me (Potbelly Dub by Land Of The Loops)” (1997) from promo CD-single Catch Me - New Mixes.
One of the greatest releases by Land Of The Loops (aka Alan Sutherland) isn’t either on Slabco Records or Up Records. It was a remix on a promo-only single for the Belfast shoegaze/dream-pop band Chimera. They only had the one album, pretty much — and this. Philip Steir (from Meat Beat Manifesto, ex-Consolidated) does remixes on this single as well.
Essentially the idea for this single was: a) Have both Steir and Sutherland each do a straightforward vocal remix of the song “Catch Me”, and b) have each do an instrumental mix that gives the remixer more artistic freedom.
Having heard Philip Steir’s remix work before, he’s very good at remaining faithful in his remixer role while adding touches of his own. While Land Of The Loops did this on the vocal remix (with the awesome name “MX vs. BMX (which is radder?) Mix”), the opposite was true on the almost-instrumental Potbelly Dub mix. This is basically a Land Of The Loops track with echoes of the original vocal track faded in and out and echoed beyond.
Consider this a great outtake from 1996’s Bundle Of Joy or 1997’s Refried Treats at the very least, Loops/Slabco fans!
Written in the Bones. New comic, written by Christopher M. Jones & illustrated by Carey Pietsch.
I’m hoping to have printed copies of this at MOCCA, ABPCC, and TCAF this spring, and SPX in the fall! More info to come.
Me and Carey worked really hard on this comic; if you got something from it I’d love for you to reblog it, and maybe even buy a copy from Carey when she’s in town or even if she’s not. Thanks so much for reading.