My ladyfriend knows I like old drum machines. And she knows I can, on occasion, be just a tad obsessive. And so, she pointed me in the direction of this post on The Rumpus, wherein I learned:

  • Moby has a massive collection of mostly analog drum machines, only some of which work.
  • The drum machine used for the well-known beat to Sly and the Family Stone’s “It’s a Family Affair” was called the Rhythm King.
  • Rick Moody wrote a piece that appeared, in part, in The Believer’s 2010 Music Issue, in which he apparently argues against the use of drum machines in contemporary music. This was interesting to me partly because of the topic of the essay, but mostly because I read that issue of The Believer and have no recollection whatsoever of such an essay. Reading retention is not my forte.
  • James Murphy hangs out at Moby’s house. (Well, at least the once.)

In my inevitable follow-up internet research, I read that Sly first used the Rhythm King on a record he produced by Little Sister (originally Sly and the Family Stone’s backup singers) that is seen by some as the first widely released record to feature a rhythm track created around a drum machine–their version of the Sly song Somebody’s Watching You:

Neat. And with that, I can head off to bed and sleep soundly, comforted by the thought that this guy’s watching me:

Way back. Back to a time when Democrats controlled the House, when despots across the Middle East had nary a care in the world, and when Charlie Sheen was just that super-rich prick on that painfully unfunny sitcom that somehow attracts 10-15 million viewers every week. Yes, folks, we’re going back…to 2010.

Shortly after the new year, I made a couple of mixes of songs from some favorite records of 2010. And now, after a few months of procrastinating, I’ve finally dusted them off, bounced them, and uploaded them to this here blog. Since I think I missed the window for timeliness, I’m thinking maybe I can get away with marketing them as retro. So put down those vuvuzelas and take a listen:

2010 In Review (Electronic)
Right-click here to download.
Track list:

Nancy (Not Her Real Name) – Intro
Javelin – Vibrationz
Games – Heartlands
Sleigh Bells – Rill Rill
Das Racist – Who’s That? Brooown!
Kanye West – Power
Flying Lotus – Computer Face//Pure Being
Stereo Total – Hello Ladies
Tanlines – Real Life
Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal
Emeralds – Double Helix
LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
The xx – VCR (Four Tet Remix)
Four Tet – Love Cry
Caribou – Leave House
Major Lazer – Jump Up
Crystal Castles – Baptism
Nancy (Not Her Real Name) – Whoop…They Both Ride Horses

2010 In Review (Rock)
Right-click here to download.
Track list:

Belle and Sebastian – Write About Love
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round And Round
Here We Go Magic – Casual
Toro Y Moi – Minors
Nite Jewel – Am I Real?
Best Coast – Boyfriend
Woods – From The Horn
The Corin Tucker Band – Doubt
Marnie Stern – Transparency Is The New Mystery
Zach Hill – House Of Hits
Daughters – The Hit
Harvey Milk – I Alone Got Up And Left
Zs – Acres Of Skin
Joanna Newsom – ’81
Warpaint – Undertow
of Montreal – Coquet Coquette
High Places – The Longest Shadows
Zola Jesus – Poor Animal

When you’re an established band with a loyal following and an instantly recognizable sound and your singer is, for whatever reason, no longer available, what do you do? Do you find a replacement who has made a name for himself in your genre and is gonna rock it out regardless of how much it changes the band’s sound, à la Black Sabbath/Ronnie James Dio or Van Halen/Sammy Hagar, or do you take your chances with someone who may be less known and less proven but who sounds more or less like your old singer, à la AC/DC/Brian Johnson (or, if you want to take the principle to the extreme, with a much worse result, Judas Priest/the tribute band dude who replaced Rob Halford)?

I’m going to have to say that The Ex went the Brian Johnson route. I did kind of miss G.W. Sok while watching them at Poisson Rouge the other night. I mean the guy was in the band for 30 years and, to me, his delivery–about equal parts singing, speaking, and shouting–sat kind of perfectly atop the chugging, herky-jerky pulse set by the rest of the band. But new singer Arnold DeBoer can do a pretty mean G.W. impersonation when circumstances call for it. Plus, he brings his own thing to the act, adding the occasional electronic blip or bloop to the mix and generally dancing and moving around the stage like he’s enjoying himself in a way that G.W. seldom did. I picked up their most recent CD, Catch My Shoe, and, while it’s no Back in Black moment, it’s as good as their last couple of discs, which have definitely gotten their fair share of airplay chez Weekday Worrier over the last several years.

I guess what it comes down to is that The Ex basically can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. You get punk, noise, politics, Hungarian folk songs, Ethiopian funk, Congolese trance…and the list goes on and on. For a band that somehow works so many different stylistic influences into one, cohesive sound, I’m thinking that replacing a vocalist may end up not being much of a challenge. That’s certainly what the show the other night suggests.

The Ex - Theme From Konono

The Ex - Hidegen fújnak a szelek

If there’s any single factor most likely to contribute to my eventual bankruptcy, it has to be the continuing existence of Mosaic Records. It’s SO worth it though! Mosaic is a jazz label–part of the Blue Note Label Group–that specializes in reissuing tastefully packaged, obsessively annotated, impressively comprehensive limited edition box sets of hard to find, often out of print, records. Every so often, I splurge and buy one or two (or ask others to splurge and buy one or two for me as a gift!), sometimes of their 3-CD “Select” Sets (the Charles Tolliver and Bobby Hutcherson sets are a couple of faves) and, when I’m feeling particularly flush, their full box sets (the Oliver Nelson and now out of print Elvin Jones sets are pretty amazing).

Last October, Mosaic strayed from its usual, more traditional jazz-oriented approach, and released the phenomenal 8-CD Anthony Braxton box set. I listened to it several times over in the few days after my pre-order arrived, and many, many times since. It basically ushered in a full year (so far!) of me revisiting my more “out” musical tendencies (I did once have a radio show here that focused on avant-garde music, after all), much to the chagrin of my wonderfully patient ladyfriend. One of my recent re-discoveries has been Henry Threadgill, former member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, the group Air, and several of his own awesome combos.

And lo and behold, a recent email from Mosaic lands in my inbox announcing…wait for it…the Henry Threadgill Complete Novus and Columbia Recordings box set to be released in early 2010, featuring Air, X-75 (a nonet with 4 reeds, 4 basses, and a vocalist), and the “Sextett” (actually a septet with Threadgill, trumpet, trombone, cello, bass, and two drummers). Definitely pre-order material (when the time comes). Until then, though, there’s always youtube, which has this pretty awesome big band recording from 1988:

Inspired by the recent Zombii 2 CD, the lady and I watched Suspiria last night. The soundtrack, by the Italian band Goblin, is rightfully recognized as a creepy, proggy tour de force. And we thorougly enjoyed the movie, of course. Then came the extras and this classic video:

Was it parody? Misguided tribute? Alas, no, it apparently is the band Daemonia, fronted by Goblin’s keyboard player Claudio Simonetti. Daemonia is a metal band that covers old Goblin songs and, apparently, has a budget of not more than 100 euros per video shoot. Oh well. But the good news is that searching for that video led me to this one–some awesome footage of the classic Goblin:

Carrie Brownstein, formerly of the sorely, sorely missed band Sleater-Kinney and currently of many cool projects, including her comedy team with Fred Armisen, Thunder Ant, and, more relevant to this post, her video blog on NPR’s website, Monitor Mix, recently held a contest that I truly regret not hearing about earlier. As she explains here, she invited her viewers to submit potential theme songs, from which she selected 10 finalists. Now viewers can vote for their favorite. The winner will be the new Monitor Mix theme song. I like Meg Ruddick and The Hilarious Posters’ entries, but it looks like they’re both behind in the polls. In any event–if you’ll allow me to be a bit mysterious here–the contest is kind of inspiring me to get going with a project I have in mind for this blog. So stay tuned.