• Record Store Day 2010 - Success!

    Apr 17 2010, 20:03

    Today is the third annual Record Store Day (it's basically like Christmas for music nerds). I've spent the past three Record Store Days in different states. In 2008 I was at Mr. Cheapo in Mineola, New York. While visiting Newport, RI with Rachel in 2009 I was able to visit Music Box (on Thames). This year I'm in Chicago for graduate school and I decided to visit three record stores to celebrate RSD 2010.

    Last night I stood in line at Permanent Records, which was kind enough to open its doors from midnight to 2am. I was the 18th person in line, and it was a major bummer because disks like The Flaming Lips - "Dark Side of the Moon" LP and Doors/Rolling Stones/John Lennon 45s were sold out by the time it was my turn in line. They didn't have the Built to Spill 7'' or the Beastie Boys "super surprise" unlabeled 12'' that I wanted either. However, I did walk away with the special 2-LP Pavement album "Quarantine the Past" (there's only 1000 pressings) as well as Rodriguez's "Inner City Blues" 7'' (1500 pressings), so I was happy about that. This one guy ahead at the front of the line basically bought 1 of everything and walked out of the record store saying "Look everyone, I got all the good stuff! You want this? You can't have it, I got the last one!" and he pointed to his shopping bag. That was unnecessary. I hope his vinyl record collection catches on fire.

    Lesson learned, I decided to start lining up early this morning at Dave's Records. The record store was going to open at 11am and I was at the front door by 9am. Even 2 hours before opening, there were 4 people waiting in the cold by the front door! The first person in line said he was there since 7am! The line slowly started to form with most people arriving 1 hour prior to opening. Around 10:30 Dave opened the doors and I stepped into the store with the opening chords of "Baba O'Riley" blasting from the sound system, which pretty much captured the emotions I was feeling. It was pretty organized, all the exclusives were behind the counter and it was on a first-come-first-serve basis. The atmosphere was different than at Permanent last night, the guy ahead of me was willing to give up the John Lennon Singles Bag because he knew that it was at the top of my list. Being fifth in line, I was very lucky and managed to get everything that I wanted without hearing those dreaded words..."Sorry we're sold out."

    Here's what I got from Dave's:

    -John Lennon Singles Bag (only 7000 copies worldwide)
    -Elvis Presley "That's All Right" 7''
    -Elvis Costello - Live At Hollywood High EP 7''
    -The Rolling Stones - Plundered My Soul 7'' (only 1000 copies in existence)
    -The Doors - People Are Strange/Crystal Ship 7''
    -Built to Spill - Water Sleepers/Linus & Lucy (live) 7''
    -White Flag 10-inch (limited pressings, don't know exact number)
    -The Flaming Lips - Dark Side of the Moon
    -Jimi Hendrix - Live @ Clark University ("official" bootleg)
    -MGMT - "Siberian Breaks" 12-inch etched single
    -Beastie Boys - unlabeled, "super surprise," mystery 12-inch (also 1000 copies in existence). It has one song that samples Daft Punk's "Da Funk" and another song that samples DJ Shadow's "The Number Song."

    Also got one of these from Dave's:

    Later on I stopped by Reckless Records on Broadway and picked up the Them Crooked Vultures - "Mind Eraser, No Chaser" 10-inch picture disk along with Rodriguez's "Cold Fact" (not a RSD exclusive, but an amazing album nonetheless).

    I did not get the Ramones blue/green vinyl, or the Modest Mouse, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, or Apples in Stereo albums because I couldn't afford them. I mean, I love the Magnetic Fields and Joy Division, but I just can't dish out +$200 on a box set right now.

    My wallet is hurtin', but hey, it's Record Store Day. The one day of year that music nerds can rejoice and splurge a little. Every year it's exponentially getting crazier and crazier. It's an exciting day for music lovers, but there are also lousy "flippers" that take advantage of the limited releases, buying the albums then re-selling them on eBay at extortionate prices. Sadly, that really takes the spirit out of Record Store Day. I really think that artists and labels should increase the supply of "exclusive" records in order to keep up with the high demand. I didn't see anyone waiting in line overnight this year, but who knows what future Record Store Days will be like?

    "It's okay to be a little greedy on Record Store Day, just don't buy these albums and sell them on eBay" --Dave of Dave's Records fame
  • Most Favorite and Least Favorite Christmas Songs

    Dic 5 2009, 12:28

    What makes a good Christmas song?

    Here's a list of my favorite and least favorite holiday songs. What's yours?

    My Favorite Christmas Songs
    1. Christmas Wrapping - my favorite, Rachel hates this song, and that makes me love it even more. You can't beat that opening guitar riff, combined with Blondie-esque vocals and brass section.

    2. Fairytale of New York - this is great! Every December this song climbs the UK charts. Good visual of a couple's argument during a New York winter. Great song along at Irish pubs.

    3. Feliz Navidad - captures the holiday spirit in Spanish, could possibly be the most catchy chorus of any Christmas song


    My Least Favorite Christmas Songs
    1. The Christmas Shoes - I can't decide of this is the most annoying Christmas song, or most annoying song in general. I don't care if your mom has cancer, or if she's shoe-less. Awful, awful song about Christmas and shoes. Instead of whining in a shoe store, how about you go spend time with your dying mother?

    2. Bob Dylan's entire Christmas In The Heart album - I love Bob Dylan, but this is just terrible. Bob Dylan's heart was in the right place, because the album is for charity, but still...
  • Captain Beefheart's 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing

    Apr 7 2009, 2:34

    This is taken from http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2009/03/captain-beefhearts-10-commandments-of-guitar-playing.html

    Captain Beefheart ...what a character.

    1. Listen to the birds.
    That's where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren't going anywhere.

    2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod.
    Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you're good, you'll land a big one.

    3. Practice in front of a bush
    Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush dosen't shake, eat another piece of bread.

    4. Walk with the devil
    Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the "devil box." And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you're bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

    5. If you're guilty of thinking, you're out
    If your brain is part of the process, you're missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

    6. Never point your guitar at anyone
    Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

    7. Always carry a church key
    That's your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He's one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song "I Need a Hundred Dollars" is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf's guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty-making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he's doing it.

    8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument
    You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

    9. Keep your guitar in a dark place
    When you're not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don't play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

    10. You gotta have a hood for your engine
    Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can't escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.
  • Coldplay's "Rules" - 60 Minutes

    Feb 13 2009, 5:02

    Just watched a 12 minute clip of Coldplay on 60 minutes.

    I know people bash Coldplay, for being "boring" music, but they're one of those bands that's hard for me to hate. Of course it's Michael Phelps that gets caught with a bong in hand, not Chris Martin. The only thing I can accuse the man of is doing a terrible job at naming babies (his children's names are Apple and Moses).

    Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is a terrific album, and I wished they won more Grammys (sorry Robert Plant). (Although I think the Grammy's are pretty much a popularity contest, and a way for the music industry to celebrate itself).

    Getting back on track...one thing that stuck out to me during the 60 Minute interview was Coldplay's "Rules" that were posted in the studio. It was shown briefly, but I'll try to copy as much as I can from the clip (edit: managed to get list from http://www.bumpershine.com/2009/02/09/coldplay-band-rules-from-60-minutes-interview.html):

    1. Albums be no longer than 42 minutes, 9 tracks.
    2. Production must be amazing, but with space, not overlayered, less tracks, more quality, groove and swing. Drums/rhythm are the most crucial thing to concentrate on; diff. between bittersweet and science of silence.
    3. Computers are instruments, not recording aids.
    4. Imagery must be classic, colourful and different. Come back in glorious technicolor.
    5. Make sure videos and pictures are great before setting release date. And highly original.
    6. Always keep mystery. Not many interviews.
    7. Groove and swing. Rhythms and sounds must always be as original as possible. Once jon has melody twist it and weird it sonical.
    8. Promo/review copies to be on VINYL. Stops copying problem, sounds and looks better.
    9. Jacqueline sabriado, ns p c c, face forward.
    10. Think about what you do with charity account. Set up something small but really enabling and constructive. Ref j oliver fifteen

    Very interesting list...keep things short, sweet, interesting...
    Keeping promotional copies on vinyl unfortunately wouldn't stop the copying problem, I've seen more and more USB turntables in stores...but I can see how it could deter copying, harder to copy analog to digital, than digital to digital.

    It's also funny how it says "be original" in the rules, when not one, but two artists (The Creaky Boards' The Songs I Didn't Write and Joe Satriani's If I Could Fly) and have claimed that Coldplay "stole" their melody and used it for their song Viva La Vida. I don't think Coldplay intentionally plagiarized the melody, but may have subconsciously stolen the melody (See George Harrison "My Sweet Lord" & Chiffon's "He's So Fine" controversy: http://abbeyrd.best.vwh.net/mysweet.htm)

    For full video of Coldplay on 60 Minutes, it's here:
  • I have a record player! Vinyl glory!

    Feb 3 2009, 1:23

    I just got home a few hours ago with a big cardboard box. Inside the box sat the Pioneer PL-990 turn table that my girlfriend bought for me for an anniversary gift. Easily one of the best presents I've ever received.


    My house actually has a record player that the previous owner, Mr. Leiberwitz, had left. It's a little dusty, but still works. It's connected to a [really heavy!] tube amplifier, probably from the 50s, which then leads to crappy speakers which were, and still are, wired to the den (downstairs) and the living room (ground level). Pretty cool sound system, just poor quality with the speakers sometimes hissing. The only record Mr. Leiberwitz left behind was a Liberace Christmas album, so technically that is my first LP.

    In high school I went through a Pink Floyd phase, and picked up a vinyl copy of The Wall, which I played a few times on Mr. Leiberwitz's record player. I also bought Led Zeppelin II for $3.

    Five years go by, and I haven't touched my 2 records (3 if you count Liberace) and I thought about exploring the world of analog recording and vinyl records.

    On a park bench on 73rd Street and Broadway, Upper West Side of Manhattan, I find a pile of LP's that someone was selling earlier, but abandoned. They were slightly damp and funky smelling, but I claimed them as mine (yes, even the Barry Manilow album).

    After taking the record player out of the box, I was excited to use it. Didn't really know how to go about hooking it up, I vaguely knew that I needed some sort of amplifier and speakers. I managed to dig up an old stereo that my uncle used when he went to college (15 years ago). IT WORKS!

    So now I'm enjoying my 8 LPs that I own, especially the Led Zeppelin & Floyd album, I'm hearing new things on The Wall that I've never heard before!

    1. Liberace's Christmas album (free)
    2. Pink Floyd's The Wall ($5)
    3. Led Zeppelin II ($3)
    4. Made In U.S.A. (really bad crazy disco album) (free)
    5. Raisin (a musical based on the play, Raisin In The Sun) (free)
    6. Loudon Wainwright III's Unrequited (free)
    7. Barry Manilow's Barry (free)
    8. Holly Near with Jeff Langley's You can know all I am (free)

    (More to come, hopefully better than Barry Manilow)

    Pros of vinyl:
    -Bass sounds so good!
    -Better fidelity than MP3s
    -Voices sound better on vinyl
    -The ritualistic feeling of playing a vinyl record

    Cons of vinyl:
    -Popping and hissing on older albums, cause of dirt/grime
    -New vinyl records use more packaging than CDs
    -Harder to store and clean than CDs
    -Flipping the album midway

    I wrote "ritualistic feel" under Pros, and by that I mean actually setting up a record, taking it out of the sleeve, laying it down on the turn table, turning the player on, and setting the needle down. Flipping the album halfway may seem like a nuisance, but I think it's part of the wonderful ritual of playing a vinyl record...a whole different tactile experience (but some may argue that an iPod's "touch wheel" is a tactile experience). With vinyl records and turn tables, the listener is actually interacting with the music, in a way.

    I might not be able to carry thousands of songs on my pocket, like most of my other friends do, but I absolutely love my record player!

    ...now if I could only get songs played on my record player to scrobble onto Last.fm...
  • Songs About Psychological Disorders and Mental Illness...

    Mag 5 2008, 3:42

    So I'm here studying for my abnormal psychology final, which is tomorrow, and I'm also listening to music. Being a huge music nerd, I thought to myself, what if I combined the two?

    Songs about or related to psychological disorders and mental illness...

    1. Schizophrenia - Schizophrenia (duh)
    2. 21st Century Schizoid Man - Schizoid Personality Disorder
    3. You're So Vain - Narcissistic Personality Disorder
    4. Paranoid - Paranoid Personality Disorder
    5. Manic Depression - Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder)
    6. Paranoid Android - Paranoid Personality Disorder
    7. Brain Damage - Psychosis
    8. Lithium - a treatment for people with bipolar disorder
    9. Suicidal Dream - major depression
    10. A Manic Depressive Named Laughing Boy (Thank you nshit)

    If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please post them.

  • Plastic People Of The Universe & Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll

    Feb 21 2008, 18:17

    Last night I went to see Tom Stoppard's play Rock 'N' Roll at the Jacobs Theater with my girlfriend and best friend. I had read Stoppard's play beforehand and thought it was pretty good, but seeing it performed was pretty amazing. The play takes place in Cambridge and Prague over a number of decades, and a political and social commentary of Czechoslovakia in the 70's and 80's. Unfortunately, the play is closing on March 9th and has about 20 shows left (at the time I'm writing this).

    Obviously, from the title, rock & roll plays a central motif in the play, especially the avant-garde music of the Velvet Underground and The Plastic People of the Universe. Other bands are mentioned in the play as well: The Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger actually attended the premier of the play), Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, The Beach Boys, The Doors, The Fugs, and John Lennon.

    I actually first heard about the Plastic People Of The Universe when my roommate brought back three CDs from Prague after studying abroad there. He told me they were sort of like the Velvet Underground of Prague, and partially responsible for the Velvet Revolution (no relation between the "Velvet" in both of the names). He brought back "Muž bez uší" (live recordings 1969-72) [translation: "Man With No Ears"], "Pašijové hry velikonoční" (1978) [translation: "Passion Play"], and "Půlnoční myš" (1985-86) [translation: "Midnight Mouse"]. I listened to the albums and thought they were pretty amazing, I could definitely hear the Velvet Underground influence. During the first song of Muž bez uší the Plastics would play their song, going on for about 10 minutes, then out of nowhere they break into It's All Over Now then switch to Foxy Lady, then go back to playing their song. Pretty incredible.

    I've always been interested in the Plastics, long before I heard about Stoppard's Rock 'N' Roll. I was just impressed by their tenacity and their we-don't-give-a-shit attitude and I was a little surprised at how unknown they were. So I guess here I am writing about them.

    Anyway, I'll continue this later cause I have to go to class now.
  • Interesting cover of "Paranoid Android" with strings...

    Feb 20 2008, 16:45

    Found this awesome cover of Radiohead's Paranoid Android, this band, The Section Quartet does a lot of covers and they've done an entire OK Computer tribute album. Paranoid Android is available to listen as a full stream...here: Paranoid Android.

    Starts off slow and lo-fi, but then it turns into a furious swarm of strings. Beautiful.
  • Need help translating a song from Czech to English!

    Feb 1 2008, 0:07

    I'm doing a school project on
    The Plastic People of the Universe and their influence on the Velvet Revolution (when communism was in the country). I need Czech speakers to help me translate a song. I really appreciate your help. I can't even find a good Czech to English translation website. :(

    Půlnoční myš

    Když k půlnoci dům nebes jest
    Bez měsíce beze hvězd
    Dvanáctkrát pádí jím v svou skrýš
    Půlnoční myš půlnoční myš

    Píská si malou tlamičkou
    Ve snách pekelný herky řvou
    Svůj úkol plní však tím spíš
    Půlnoční myš půlnoční myš

    Její pán velký bílý duch
    Právě té noci změnil vzduch
    Je mu hej dům střeží jak víš
    Půlnoční myš půlnoční myš

    Thanks to anyone that can help. :)
  • Searching The Library For Gems (Part 1)

    Mar 13 2007, 8:36

    So I'm back home on Long Island and and I've decided to check out my local library because it's got a pretty damn good collection of records...

    This is actually how I discovered The Velvet Underground, Oasis, and Bob Dylan in high school.

    Looking through the dusty stacks, I was actually surprised to see newer releases, like the Arctic Monkeys. I was also surprised to see the library carry something like 6 or 7 copies of X&Y. Also, Barbara Streisand does not deserve to have an entire fucking section of the shelf devoted to her. Fuck you Barbara.

    Anyway, the limit is 4 CDs for 14 days, so here are the four that I chose...

    1. Hunky Dory
    I've been in a very David Bowie mood lately. The more I listen to Bowie, the more I believe he is some kind of god walking among common men. This is a terrific album if you're new to Bowie. He pays tribute to a few people on Andy Warhol and Song for Bob Dylan

    2. Passages
    I was pretty shocked to see this at the library. World-renowned sitarist Ravi Shankar teams up with master minimalist Philip Glass for this great piece of music. Glass's arpeggios are even more chilling when it's SITARS that are playing them.

    I'm pretty hesitant of with "Best Of" CDs, but it's a good way to get a taste of an artist's career.

    3. His Best, 1956 to 1964
    The godfather of blues! Amazing guitar phrasing, blues singing, and harmonica wailing. If you want to get into the blues, Muddy Waters is the way to go. B.B. Kingeven acknowledges him in the liner notes.

    4. The Best of Leonard Cohen
    This CD gives a great overview of Cohen's songwriting capabilities. Great folk music, Chelsea Hotel No. 2is one of my favorite songs.
    Recommended if you like: Bob Dylan

    So yeah, there's actually a lot of good stuff to be found at public libraries, so get out there!