Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Boom - Movin' Out

If you've worked your way to the end of the Hoover Mixtape you'll have heard a song from The Boom, 'Texas Telephone'. If you have good taste, you'll probably agree it's a great tune.

To my ears anyway, I think it's the one song on this album which most sounds like a Hoover song, in its spacey aesthetic - which is, along with its air of moody finality, why I chose it for the mix. At the same time, it's very recognizably a jazz(/rock) song.

What I said then was that:

"The Boom take... DC fury and fuse it with the expressiveness of jazz... in a more traditional and straightforward manner than that of Abilene, but also in a broader style, with some of the hard edges of bop and soft curves of ska."

That description was intended to cover the totality of the album, not just that song. Some styles are more apparent than others in particular songs, and overall Movin' Out sounds eclectic as well as having its own distinct sound. In this context, it's difficult to review the album without comparing it to Abilene (particularly Two Guns, Twin Arrows which features Fred Erskine on guitar and trumpet as well) and, to a lesser extent, the Sorts (which feature Josh Larue on guitar and sometimes vocals, and who plays trombone and keyboard here). But in terms of Erskine's vocal role, the important comparison is with the Crownhate Ruin - the first and probably most popular of the main post-Hoover groups.

The Boom, while being a very jazzy, groovy band, incorporate a good deal of the tension and darknesss of Hoover/Crownhate Ruin. The songs seem to speak in a jazz/blues idiom and style, but take a darker edge than one might expect (not that the blues and jazz, when you think about it, are without their own strong tradition of nihilism and angst). For example:

"all my money is spent on liquor and bills

ain't seen no pay off still"

('Liquor and Bills')

"who's been stealing your good time?

what kind of medicine they got you on,

that's gonna put you so far gone?"

('Heavy Dose')

Outside of this, The Boom also presents a very solid artistic line-up. The insert lists the five members and their instruments: j. carrier on drums (and also photography - perhaps of the cover, but also of a little b&w and very Hoover-esque picture of a parked van on the inset), booker t. sessoms, III on electric and acoustic bass (classy name, but more importantly a classy sound which gives a distinctive jazzy flavour to the album), carlo cennamo on alto saxophone and bass clarinet, josh larue on trombone and keyboards and freddie t. erskine on guitar, vocals and trumpet. In addition to the wide variety of instruments (I can't say I know a bass clarinet when I hear one) the basic fact of three horn players marks this album out from the second Abilene full-length as Erskine can sing over the horns, meaning a much less compartmentalised sound.

In the write-up for the mixtape, I connected Two Guns, Twin Arrows to Christian Scott's 2007 bebop album Anthem; but Movin' Out forges a much rawer, perhaps more traditional but nonetheless undeniably edgy, jazz sound. "The Boom" hints pretty unsubtly at a kind of explosive power, or equally some kind of kinetic, chemical heat. In that respect the cover art is quite apt; a striking, impressionistic contrast of black and white, with a splash of bold colour: a metaphor for a hard-blowing jazz band riding on a dark, jagged edge of punk rock...

(As I mentioned previously, it was thanks to proven hollow for the mp3s of this album, left in the comments section of Zen and the Art of Face Punching (always a good place to find rare, obscure or otherwise neglected pieces of music). The link below is his original one, with thanks.)

"im tired of "reading" all these, but im not sure if anyone mentioned THE BOOM from the hoover family tree. actually they may have been a splinter off the crownhateruin family tree...haha, but its all the same. happened around the same time as the sorts, but more jazz/rocky. regardless of official member family trees, i have seen them play shows with the sorts and abilene, which means every member of hoover was in attendance at the same time playing a show. and there was some kind of uber rock jam at the end. kinda like when eddie vedder comes out and plays an encore with neil young. you are watching and then like "wait, what the fuck! awesome!" and then you pee your pants in anticipation of them kicking out some kind of tasty old hoover jam in the improv section, but they never do."

The Boom - Movin' Out

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Video - Dinosaur Jr., 'Been There All The Time'

'Been There All The Time' (J. Mascis) b/w 'Back To Your Heart' (Lou Barlow) - UK 7" from the album Beyond, released 2007.*




Check out the turntable in the video, with the S-shaped tone arm... and also the record with 'Dinosaur Jr.' written on it what looks like in white paint. Is that for real?


* With my new USB turntable, I'm hoping to rip a few of my (three) 7"s (list of purchases in preceding post) to mp3 in the coming days. Most I have digitally already - both these Dino Jr. tracks are on the album itself, for example - but I'm treating it as an exercise in the use of technology. So if anybody would like to hear one of them in particular, let me know and I'll, uh, expedite the process!

[Edit: rip of the Editors' single now available below]

[Edit: rip of 'Been There All The Time']

Friday, January 18, 2008

Video 'Friday' - Editors, 'Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors' + vinyl rip

Another weekly video, a little late. The point of this feature is to add some focus and regularity to the site, as well as providing an outlet for some more up-to-date aspects of my musical taste - by providing a video of a band's music, rather than disseminating the mp3s of their work. As before, the video is at the end of the post...


My last post was about my first LP, and this is about my first 7". In the meantime, I have actually got a turntable: an Ion ITT USB05, which allows me to directly and easily record the vinyl onto my computer. It's pretty cool, even if it has no phono output, meaning that through my computer is the only way I can listen to the records, but that's not too much of a big deal.

Anyway, here's what I've bought so far:

Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped (LP) [by far the best cover art of the lot, and very distinct from the CD version too]

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Show Your Bones (LP)

Dinosaur Jr. - 'Been There All The Time'/'Back to Your Heart' (UK 7" single)

Editors - 'Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors' (7" Single)

P.J. Harvey - White Chalk (LP) [her latest album, plays at 45 rpm for some unknown reason]

Patti Smith - Horses (LP) [partly for the Robert Mapplethorpe photography]

The Boom - Movin' Out (LP)

Shooting At Unarmed Men - 'Girls Music'/'Weapons of Mass Production' (promo 7" single) [ex-Mclusky]

Fight Like Apes - The Two EPs (LP) [in proper DIY fashion, the labels for each side are the wrong way round]

Slint - Spiderland (LP)

I'm also rocking Joe Lally's first solo album, There To Here, on loan from a friend (in return for the YYY's LP and a promise not to take off the sticker yet), and I have Radio Flyer's In Their Strange White Armour on order from Polyvinyl. Toying with the idea of getting the HWM compilation (finally out!) from No Idea... it's on coloured vinyl apparently. And if I get that, I'll have to get A Flight and A Crash, and perhaps Forever and Counting...

(My loyalty card from Road Records. I bought most of the new releases from Tower, and the Patti Smith from another independent store, but any shop that blasts Minor Threat on a weekday afternoon and has a sticker that says "No home should be without this album" on the cover of Spiderland, deserves especial patronage.)


Editors, if you haven't heard of them, are a pretty successful UK indie/post punk band. A little (or, perhaps, a lot) like a kind of British Interpol. I mainly like them for their particularly distinctive guitar sound which was succinctly explained by one Phantom DJ as:

"Play a high note, stick a lot of delay on it, and... uh... yeah, that's pretty much it"

I don't own anything else by them, neither their debut album The Back Room or their current release, An End Has A Start, so 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' is on its own for the moment. (It's also the only piece of vinyl I don't already have digital copies of, so I'll try out my recording/encoding software and probably post the result here).

Useless fact: 'Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors' went to #39 on the Irish singles chart (#7 in the UK, and #18 in the UK download chart). Seriously, does anyone even care anymore?

Editors - Wikipedia


Like I said before, a large part of the reason for going vinyl (or at least, one of the major advantages) is the quality of cover art. The Editors' design in general is very classy, but to get this graphic on a seven-inch plus wide sleeve of card is particularly cool. A bit like the Hoover/Regulator Watts industrial design aesthetic that started off my series of posts on art (and now, it's spread to Zen Face too), Editors' latest releases take a steely architectural theme - the album has a similarly styled picture of a gasometer ring. The monochrome, simultaneously soft- and hard-edged look I think really suits their sound. More than that, though, the text conveys their artistic message pretty well: clear, crisp, spacious, and sharply - and geometrically, but not unfeelingly - lined.

Personally, I think this photograph looks a lot like a dandelion head (and I have a photo of my own to prove it), but I don't find that gets in the way of my appreciation of it; in fact, it makes it quirky and even more interesting.


01 - Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors

02 - Some Kind of Spark

Kitchenware Records, 2007: SKX932



The video: young girl runs out of hospital, gets chased around various urban scenes, bloke from the band wanders out of rehearsal room and finds girl on rooftop... the usual story. Oh, and the girl walks on water at the end - very Jesus Christ/Zhang Yimou...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Hoover Mixtape

Hoover Genealogy Project



There might not be too much terribly new in this mix, but then again chances are you might not have got round to hearing one or two of the bands yet at all. (Depends on who 'you' are, I guess - an avid D.C. groover or a stumble-upon punk sympathiser?). This is obviously not the comprehensive list - it leaves out June of 44, for a start, simply because I haven't listened to them enough - and, thus, it's best to think of it an introductory selection, one which naturally follows my own understanding and growing appreciation of the genealogy.

The mixtape is partly arranged chronologically, which is why it starts with Hoover, and then The Crownhate Ruin: however, this is mostly as a base for a looser, more sonically-based arrangement. As always, more explanations with each song.

Side A:

1. Hoover - Weeds

2. The Crownhate Ruin - Pioneers

3. The Crownhate Ruin - Piss Alley

4. Radio Flyer - Swollen Buffet

5. Regulator Watts - New Low Moline

6. Abilene - Twisting the Trinity

Side B:

7. Radio Flyer - R is for Rocket

8. Regulator Watts - The Ballad of St. Tinnitus

9. Abilene - October

10. The Sorts - Bowie Knife

11. The Boom - Texas Telephone

1. Hoover - Weeds

(from the s/t EP)

To begin the mixtape I thought it better to use a song from the reunion EP rather than the album, because the genealogy is all about projecting out from the canonical Hoover, rather than sticking with the pinnacle of that single album. 'Weeds' starts off as a typical Lurid Traversal- Hoover track, but after a couple of minutes it switches to something a lot more like the later Alex Dunham bands. ('Your backyard is overgrown' repeated over slowly unfolding guitar drone/whine) A great link to the other sounds, but still definitely Hoover in that slithering, ominuous sense.

2. The Crownhate Ruin - Pioneers

(from the Elementary 7")

The Crownhate Ruin is the one post-Hoover band most people know, probably because a) they were also on Dischord Records, proper (i.e. not Slowdime) and b) they were fully half of Hoover, with guitarist Joseph McRedmond and bassist/guitarist Fred Erskine. Essentially, The Crownhate Ruin represent the other half of the Hoover sound not represented in Radio Flyer, Regulator Watts and so on.

This track, 'Pioneers, takes the heavy, rhythmic part of Lurid Traversal and stretches it out and I guess explores it even more deeply. Definitely my favourite track from Elementary because of its infectious, repetitive slow guitar riff accented by quiet, building passages. Although it's kind of a straightforward post-hardcore by numbers song, it actually reminds me of Current/Indian Summer style emo, all crashing dynamics and mad, distorted crunchiness... plus tender whispering, of course.

3. The Crownhate Ruin - Piss Alley

(from Until the Eagle Grins)

Here, on the standout track from their full-length (this song is the one used on the Twenty Years of Dischord compilation), TCR swopped overbearing crunch for lulling, beguiling melody. Another long, building song with repetitive guitar lines, although it quickly begins to chop and change (my friend, on hearing this record, said something along the lines of "the tempo changes! the tempo changes!"). Add in the chiming, metallic counterpoints and the disturbed, impassioned singing and you've got an equal to anything from the 'emo album' of Hoover.

4. Radio Flyer - Swollen Buffet

(from In Their Strange White Armour)

I chose this song as a transition back from the weighty, epic sound of The Crownhate Ruin for the misleading intro, which echoes slightly the closing rhythm of 'Piss Alley' before the expanding screeches of guitar rip it apart and it explodes into a mostly high-tempo rocker. If you've read the review of In Their Strange White Armour you'll know that Radio Flyer rides the line between raucous speed and slow tension with a peculiar agility; mostly, this song, the last on the album, is about the first. A real D.C. style song, which slips back into slow rhythm only for brief respite, spending the rest of the time rolling forward to a pummelling groove. As Yancey Strickler says, "'Swollen Buffet' exhibits the disgust its title implies with a Potomac-rippling shout-along chorus".

5. Regulator Watts - New Low Moline

(from the New Low Moline 7" single)

Continuing on from the attack of 'Swollen Buffet' is another shouter from another Alex Dunham band, Regulator Watts. This, the title track but apparently the b-side from the New Low Moline single, rips through its unbalanced post-hardcore rhythms in just over two minutes, which makes it one of the very shortest songs of the lot and, consequently, the most 'punk'. It's also a distillation of the aggression and explosiveness of the original Hoover sound, in the same way that 'Piss Alley' is an expansion and recodification of the original tension and spaciousness. But, yeah, it's mostly about the aggression, and intensity; look to Regulator Watts for the height of that part of the genealogy, and to see how this song marks the arc of that side of the post-Hoover sound.

6. Abilene - Twisting the Trinity

(from Two Guns, Twin Arrows)

'Twisting the Trinity', the opener of Abilene's second album which brought back together Fred Erskine and Alex Dunham on trumpet and guitar, repackages that sonic aggression and intensity and I think nicely rounds off the curve of this side of the mixtape. The winding, slightly exotic or Oriental melodies of Erskine's trumpet meld with the surprisingly heavy guitars to produce a viscerally powerful and energetic sound. ('Twisting the Trinity' is actually quite a head-wrecking - but wonderfully enjoyable - song, as I discovered when I put this on, ages ago, to liven me up from a head-cold. Bad idea). Abilene isn't a jazz band, as I've had it pointed out to me, but they do bring the Hoover aesthetic into interesting new territory. Likewise, Christian Scott's Anthem, which I put on my 2007 Best Of, takes bebop jazz in a new direction, and ends up seeming quite like this. Visceral, but beautiful.

7. Radio Flyer - R is for Rocket

(from In Their Strange White Armour)

Having closed the first side with the upwardly-twisting loudness of (second incarnation) Abilene, we'll start off the second with the downwardly-tuned quietness of Radio Flyer. This song builds and washes over you, suffused with melody and quiet, chiming guitars. Of course, there's the scuzzed-out distortion and the almost murmured vocals; vocals which are augmented by strangely measured, tempered and vocal pieces of feedback. You can see the difference between this and 'Swollen Buffet', but also recognize that they come from the same work. A good way to understand that the post-Hoover sound, like Hoover itself, is often about a balance between two extremes, which both combine the same intensity.

8. Regulator Watts - The Ballad of St. Tinnitus

(from The Aesthetics of No-Drag)

Regulator Watts follows the sound of Radio Flyer pretty closely, but at the same time their songs have a different air about them: harsher, more technological. 'The Ballad of St. Tinnitus' continues the arc of slow, moody songs while also riding on a massive wave of volume, an almost unceasing wall of sound. Tinnitus is, of course, the ear condition caused usually by prolonged exposure to loud noises and which manifests itself in a constant ringing sound in the ears, not too dissimilar from the high-pitched drone of this song. Another reshaping of the Hoover 'aesthetic', it eases in with a mostly calm drum beat, before unfolding into waves of noise which never move any faster than they absolutely have to. A few short bursts of speed aside, Regulator Watts here plays on the kind of sonic lethargy that lent Lurid Traversal so much of its emotive intensity; likewise, the impact of 'The Ballad of St. Tinnitus' is a slow, but heavy, one.

9. Abilene - October

(from the s/t album)

All the songs of Abilene's first album take a slow pace, and have a spookily minimalist sound to them. Compared to the sonic heights and excesses of Two Guns, Twin Arrows, this sounds infinitely more relazed yet still infused with tension. Repetitive phrases, scratchy guitar sounds and a low, humming bass combine to create a song which travels a far distance without ever seeming to pick up speed or momentum, just weight. As the first early anti-climaxes pass, the build up begins in earnest with swooping lines of distortion, almost Slinty in a 'Glenn'/'Rhoda' sense. More or less, all of the six songs on the album work like this, but 'October' does it particularly well.

'October' takes the humming guitarwork of this early Abilene sound and twists it around the same series of notes infectiously, a bit like Radio Flyer's '(312)', except here the volume gets dramatically and apocalyptically louder with every repetition. Over this in turn is the characteristic shouted vocals, not particularly distinct (sounds like he's shouting 'Semper Fi' over and over again, but I don't think that's right) but clearly impassioned.

I have an odd memory of listening to this lying on my bunk in the hostel in Snowdonia last summer; I was being antisocial but at the same time was utterly captivated by the intensity of the song. Abilene is, at first, a more delicate album to listen to and understand than Two Guns, Twin Arrows, but the reward is a majesty of power and simplicity.

10. The Sorts - Bowie Knife

(from More There)

Another slow, gentle song, but completely disposing of the heavy guitar distortion in favour of a clearer, looser 'jazz' sound. The only Hoover connection here is the drummmer, Christopher Farral, but the influence is notable. 'Bowie Knife', as with other Sorts songs, is as much about the voice and rhythm of the drums as it is about the guitar, which acts almost like an interjection into this hypnotic jazzy conversation. The quiet, slightly mournful lyrics (sung by Josh Larue) begin like this:

"I am the inventor of the Bowie knife

keep it by my side

I am the winder of the pocket watch

keep it on a chain"

I actually prefer the first Sorts album, Common Time, to More There, mostly becuase of its simplicity and lack of adornment; similar to the values of the first Abilene album. Nevertheless, The Sorts have plenty of the ability to write quiet, engaging kind-of-jazz songs, which wash over you like a soothing tonic after the intensity of the Dunham/Erskine angles of the post-Hoover sound.

11. The Boom - Texas Telephone

(from Movin' Out)

This is the second-to-last track on the Boom album (which is bookended by two incidental pieces 'Movin' In' and 'Movin Out'), and is in some ways the most Hoover-ish of them all. With Fred Erskine on vocals, guitar and, of course, trumpet, the Boom is a little bit like Two Guns, Twin Arrows Abilene but a whole lot jazzier. (It also has Josh Larue on trombone and keys, for those digging the Sorts before it). For some reason, parts of the Boom frequently remind me of The Wire theme, 'Way Down In the Hole' - originally a Tom Waits song, but performed by many different artists, including the man himself, over the four/five seasons. It's got that kind of groovy atmospherics which suit the show's message so well: likewise, Hoover's DC epic sound is "A paean to the suburban disenchantment that looms over the nation's capital like flies on shit", to use sbj's words. The Boom take that DC fury and fuse it with the expressiveness of jazz; partly in a more traditional and straightforward manner than that of Abilene, but also in a broader style, with some of the hard edges of bop and soft curves of ska.

While thanks go to proven hollow for providing the mp3s of this album a while ago, I also serendipitously found the LP second hand in my local independent record store in Dublin (more on which later). So I can give you the printed (not full) lyrics to this Southern-baked tale of woe:

"Couldn't help but hope that telephone post

was carrying lies. a sick surprise

that night.

baby blue. where you gonna go?"

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Black Keys - The Chulahoma EP

(in which, I-VII, gabbagabbahey attempts to write about the blues

taking in, variously, such diverse yet connected subjects as Dinosaur Jr., The Black Keys, Thickfreakness, Mclusky, Jawbreaker, Jack Kerouac, and, of course, Junior Kimbrough

but most of all, or at least in the end, letting the music and the words speak for themselves)

I: the paint-spattered mumblecore blues

Over the course of blogging last year, I've been trying to describe how good the new Dinosaur Jr. album, Beyond, sounds (here, here and here). On top of all those ramblings, was the idea that the feeling of the album harked back to something much earlier, much more primal. Note, please, that I'm not referring to a) the style of playing, or the musical arrangement or whatever - but the feeling that the album emotes, and b) I'm not referring to the blues as necessarily 'primal', but rather - as this record testifies - something very much alive and modern.

That said, Dinosaur Jr. provided me with a large part of my 2007 fix of 'discordant suburban whiteboy blues' (above and to the right). Or, as Scott from Punknews.org says:

"I'm not gonna front: I didn't listen to Dinosaur Jr. before this year, so I don't know how this record stacks up with their back catalog. What I do know is that this record is one long guitar solo that makes me want to chant "USA! USA!" along with it the entire time. When politicians talk about the terrorists taking away our freedoms, they're referring to J Mascis' right to wail."

(staff year-end list, #17)

(Or, yet again, landanimal's description of 'Pick Me Up': "the sweetest non-metal metal riff" of the year)

While I was a latecomer to the band too, that's not what's important. Beyond also gave me my annual shot of guitar-driven Americana - in a way that Dan Deacon, utterly fantastic though he is, hardly did; I haven't heard Magic yet, and although I just downloaded the Eddie Vedder soundtrack to Into the Wild, it's probably a bit too left-field. Point is, Dino Jr. was for me the greatest American cultural import of 2007.

That, in itself, would not be enough - for me, anyway - to build any sort of comparison to the blues would it not be for the totally random fact that stateside release of Beyond was through Fat Possum Records (though not in Europe, which is why I only found out about this now). Fat Possum, a Mississippi-based blues label, was for a period of eight years associated with Epitaph Records, thus providing a small but crucial link in my listening habits between punk and 'other' types of music.

II: the better than the white stripes blues

The first time I ever heard the Black Keys was on the Punk-O-Rama 8 compilation from 2003, with the song 'Thickfreakness'. The sheer sound of the guitar on that track blew me away; elsewhere I have written about hearing Mclusky's seminal album Mclusky Do Dallas:

" made noise cool for me"

and I guess hearing Thickfreakness (the song, first, and then not too long afterwards, the identically titled album) performed a similar function. However, in this case it wasn't about the chaotic and collective power of a punk band, but the singularly raucous, groovy and earth-shattering sound that was coming out of that man's one guitar.

For quite a while Thickfreakness was my favourite musical purchase, with its softpack case, clean white design (and seriously unhealthy-looking cover art) and self-proclaimed "patented" "medium fidelity" recording technique. It was probably the CD that spent the longest time out on loan to a friend - I don't know if he'll be reading this, but he should know who he is. And apart from that, I have a strong memory of listening to this album while taking long train journeys across the country, to the west of Ireland.

The sounds of this album were strangely lulling, exciting and profoundly moving; it had soul. Its pounding rhythms, incessant drumming and soaring, sonically anguished guitar riffs melded together in a driving, hard-rocking bluesy whole. The fuzzed, half-broken and utterly plaintive vocals were only the addition to an immense, living sound which made the heart beat with an extra vitality. From the more authentically bluesy (and Junior Kimbrough original) of 'Hard Row' to the quiet balladsy closer 'I Cry Alone' and via the beat-rockers of 'Have Love Will Travel' or the searing opener, 'Thickfreakness', Thickfreakness quickly became, and still remains, one of the most perfect albums I have had the pleasure to listen to.

III. the cop-killing, kerouac-reading blues

It is not, however, about that album that this post is about. Thickfreakness, and the Black Keys of 'that period', were my introduction to the blues (and truthfully, I haven't ventured very far since). From this realization there was also the more predictable realization that, as a truism, all rock music, punk included, derives from the blues guitar players of the lesser decades of the 20th century. Punk necessarily, but also somewhat paradoxically so, because it sets itself up in opposition to some of the most heavily blues-influenced, and also most bloatedly awful, segments of rock music; and unfortunately those segments are also closely linked to some of the most popular, and critically and devotionally acclaimed parts of rock:

"Someone was blasting Zeppelin. It sounded good.

I felt ashamed. I knew every drum fill."

(Jawbreaker, 'Bad Scene, Everyone's Fault)

I’m aware that Zeppelin-bashing may be controversial to many and heretical to some, and that even as an obvious Ramones fan I don’t advocate a return to three-chord rock; but goddamnit, it ain’t punk! Led Zeppelin serve only as a reminder of how not to play the blues and by extension, how not to play rock music.

The hypocrisy Jawbreaker point out is absolutely true – Led Zeppelin does sound good, and if I didn’t know who it was, and at least until I noticed that the song was going on way longer than it should do, I might quite enjoy it - and I wish it wasn’t, because what Led Zeppelin and every other traditional rock band since the 1960s has been doing is not worship of the blues, but the raping of the blues (by phallically obsessed white guitar heroes, nonetheless - whaddya know?)

IV. the lightsaber cocksucking blues

"That white-hot sonic anarchy, the complete abandon of scatological lyrics and eye-popping vocals, it took me out of any disillusionment I may have been having about the ability of punk rock to physically and musically move me. Naturally - and I assume this is the same for most people - my tastes have hardened over time, grown less delicate - but for me Mclusky was a quantum leap, a paradigm shift (perhaps, a la Dilbert, one without a clutch)."

(HFN: Mclusky Singles)

. the spontaneous bop prosodic blues

“NOTE: I want to be considered a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jam session on Sunday. I take 242 choruses; my ideas vary and sometimes roll from chorus to chorus or from halfway through a chorus to halfway into the next.”

“In my system, the form of blues choruses is limited by the small page of the breastpocket notebook in which they are written, like the form of a set number of bars in a jazz blues chorus, and so sometimes the word-meaning can carry from one chorus into another, or not, just like the phrase-meaning can carry harmonically from one chorus to the other, or not, in jazz, so that, in these blues as in jazz, the form is determined by time, and by the musician’s spontaneous phrasing and harmonized with the beat of the time as it waves & waves on by in measured choruses.

It’s all gotta be non stop ad libbing within each chorus, or the gig is shot.”

(Jack Kerouac, Mexico City Blues/Book of Blues)

V. the meetinghouse city square blues.

The two albums by the Black Keys that succeeded Thickfreakness, Rubber Factory and Magic Potion don’t match up to the pure sonic physicality and prosody of that perfect album. Physicality, because their sound has somehow ‘softened’, overall less raw if not incapable of rocking out at certain points; and prosody, because the blues in general and the blues of Thickfreakness in particular were about telling a story, in sound as well as in words.

The later two albums lost a lot of the sonic heat of Thickfreakness, which was really as much a punk record as it was a rock one; and the songs risked slipping into cliché, as well as drifting towards a poppier, lighter sound. In short, the Black Keys, the only blues-rock band that made sense, were reverting to type, and turning back into Led Zeppelin.

Sometime around the release of Magic Potion - February, last year - the Black Keys played a gig in Dublin, in the Temple Bar Music Centre. The crowd was one of the older groups in the gigs I saw last year (older than Slint, heyday 1989-1991) and the blues-rock sound was the reason why. In their own words:

“I think it's a really good mix,” Auerbach says of the duo’s fanbase, “and we're really happy with that. We get the older dudes who are into Cream and Hendrix, and the hipsters...I love our audience”

(Chicago Inner View)

The band played a selection of blues/rock covers, which sounded good, but left me cold, and left me bored. Where was the anarchy, where was the emotion?

Their new stuff didn’t do much for me either, and it was only when they started on their Thickfreakness/Big Come Up (and admittedly, a few of the noisier songs from Rubber Factory) material that I really felt why the Black Keys were such a good band. ‘Thickfreakness’, ‘Set Me Free’, and ‘The Breaks’ (featured on my anti-mixtape of good, good noise, Melt Yr Ears) got things going, but my favourite song of the night was the one track they played from Chulahoma, Junior Kimbrough’s ‘Meet Me in the City’.

VI. the electric juke-joint guitar-playing blues

"There was a black and white photo on the front cover. It was of an old man seated by a jukebox. He was playing an electric guitar while some women, frozen in time, swayed to the music he seemed to be making. I was away at college, in that little Ohio town. There, alone in my room, I was transformed. It was by this man and the music on that CD. I've heard people say this before, that they were forever changed by so and so, by this or that, but I have to tell you truthfully, fuck all that. Nature, humanity, my feet on the floor, the fake wood laminated desktop, the moon and the stars, the heat from my body, my reflection in the mirror, my whole existence wa flipped on its head and back around twice. I was in a trance for days and didn't even know it. Very suddenly, I was skipping class to play guitar. Shortly thereafter, I'd be dropping out of college altogether. Setting out to find my own way. The bar had been set impossibly high and there was nothing more those professors could help me with. I'd found a new teacher."

- dan auerbach

VII. the mind-ramblin’ psychedelic revolver blues

The Black Keys - Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbrough

1. Keep Your Hands Off Her

2. Have Mercy On Me

3. Work Me

4. Meet Me In The City

5. Nobody But Me

6. My Mind Is Ramblin’

Junior Kimbrough and the Soul Blues Boys – All Night Long

1. Work Me Baby

2. Do the Rump

3. Stay All Night

4. Meet Me In The City

5. You Better Run

6. Done Got Old

7. All Night Long

8. I Feel All Right

9. Nobody But You

10. Slow Lightning

Buy these records from Fat Possum Records or via eMusic.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Video - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 'Gold Lion'

This is the trial of a new feature on Hardcore For Nerds, where every Friday I post up a music video. When I say "trial", I mean this is just an idea that I had a couple of days ago... so we'll see how it works out. The video is at the end of the post, by the way...


Yesterday I made my first ever vinyl purchase, courtesy of Tower Records, Wicklow Street. The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Show Your Bones was something I had my eye on for a while; I had a burnt copy already, but I thought since I did really like the album I should support the band (and Universal Music Group, yay!). Anyway, 'Gold Lion', the opener, is definitely the reason I like this album so much. Moreover, I don't remember hearing the song on the radio (which I wasn't listening to at all under the latter of '06, when Phantom came back on the air) as much as I do recall seeing this video on mid-morning television (ah, the college lifestyle...) Either way, 'Gold Lion' is pretty much synonymous with the YYY's for me.

As for the video itself, I'm not sure which it has more of, pyrotechnics or theatrics. It's not quite as awesome as it I remembered it the first time; but then I was newer to the song, and thus more distracted by it; and further, I think what I mostly remember was the wheel of fire scene at the end. It's still entertaining, though. As for my current taste in twilight desert videos goes, I would prefer Battles' 'Tonto'. That song doesn't rock as hard as 'Gold Lion', however.


I don't have a record player quite yet, so for the most part I'm just looking at the cover art of Show Your Bones. Which, as covers go, is pretty great. This also makes a nice follow-on from my previous post on homemade covers, which led into a discussion about the aesthetics of music releases. Blend77 revealed that:

"even when i was first buying records i often picked out things on a visual level. now thats pretty much the only time i buy music, when i love the whole package (or i just absolutely cant live without it.)"

I'm sure there's plenty more people out there who feel that way (or, have been spending too long in the art/design business!). Recently I came across an interesting site, Sleevage.com, "a blog all about music cover art". They do little reviews about all the best album covers since the 60s - continually adding new ones, too - and this is what they say about Show Your Bones:

"There is something very satisfying about an object that is tactile and, although this piece of art is not worth touching, the appearance of tactility is rich enough for me to need to reach out and grab the CD. (I imagine if this were hanging on a wall, I would standing way too close to it.)

The artist, Julian Gross, who might be the bloke in The Liars, but don’t take my word for it, has created something that appeals to my penchant for branding by creating that vertical “YYY” out of rough-hewn fabric. Perhaps being a little slow on the uptake, it took me some time to notice that he had “branded” and that, to me, is also very positive - that the cover art is not screaming “look at me, I’m a Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ CD”. Predictably, record executive types felt we consumers would not be able to connect the dots and the cover we see is emblazoned with a not unattractive script."



Here's the CD cover art. It might be worth noting that the LP covers has no text, which is one of two significant advantages of that version (the other being that it's only 11 tracks long, omitting 'Déja Vu', which is a good song, but kinda jars at the end for me):

(Over the weekend, I might try photographing the vinyl cover, which looks a good deal more interesting without the 'record-executive-type' script. It also has a big sticker saying "Pressed on Extra Weight Vinyl" and how good MOJO thought the album was, which I haven't decided whether to take off or not yet)


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

No Covers* - an art post (with music)

Above: the original photograph for my cover of Regulator Watt's New Low Moline 7"

(* a Mclusky reference. You can never have too many; and if you can't kill Kenny, you can't do anything right)

Following on from this dodgy artwork, thankfully authenticated as a fair copy, I humbly present some more artwork I've had to dream up myself. I like to have even the smallest release that I download and like in its own paper sleeve, which can be a problem when the only pictures of the cover art are tiny little gif files. Generally, even a 300x300 jpeg doesn't produce a very good CD cover (which is why the album artwork on this site is a standard 400-pixel width). Hence, I've made a few covers of my own, using my own photographs and a little bit of basic Photoshop editing.

I guess the idea was to follow the 'emo' style of artwork, which supposedly "tends toward abstract black-and-white photographs of rusted/broken things (especially machinery), drawings of flowers, and pictures of old men, little boys, and little girls" (fourfa.com), but not to follow it too slavishly.

Click to see larger.


Current/Indian Summer - split 7", Homemade Records No. 6, July 1993

1. Key

2. Orchard

The photo: a statue, by water, in Altamont gardens, Co. Carlow, Ireland. For the past few years I've been doing the majority of my photography through black-and-white (very easy on a digital camera!) just so I can concentrate on form and lines, contrasts etc. The addition of the text didn't go quite so well, trying to place it not too obtrusively but still legibly. It's Current with a 'u' and Indian Summer with a 'Ind', by the way, in case you can't make it out. Not sure why I chose yellow, either.

The record: I don't rate Current quite as high as some other emo bands, but this song is really good. It's relatively simple, and not particularly long by Moss Icon or Indian Summer stands, but it has the 'emo' rhythm and emotional release down pat. Check out these lyrics:

"I cut my key from wood

for inexpensiveness

I cut my key from stone

for everlastness

but now I have found a way

to make it all better...

Indian Summer's 'Orchard' was, along with Moss Icon's 'Guatemala', one of the songs that got me into emo. I know that a lot of people from around the time, and probably still now, disliked the echoey sound of the track, and admittedly, it is quite strong (as well as the vinyl crackles). But it also makes for one hell of a powerful song, and probably one of the band's best. When I heard it first, I had just been listening to Envy's A Dead Sinking Story for about a year or so, and to hear something else as uniquely dynamic and proto-'screamo' was pretty mindblowing. Where I first heard that song, along with 'Guatemala', Swing Kids' '43 Seconds', Mohinder's 'Numb', etc., was on the 'mesa verde' list of mp3s, via fourfa again (it now seems to be gone).


Rye Coalition/Maximillian Colby - split 7", irony recordings 002/rent-a-records 552.002, 1998

1. Dover

2. One Gallon Alda

The photo: a straw field in the countryside of Morbihan (Brittany), France. Clearly this was taken in the summer, when the straw had already been baled. Using a red filter to convert to b&w (or noir et blanc as they say in those parts) turned the strewn straw snow white, and then I later turned the whole thing dark sepia for effect. The trees aren't the most interesting backdrop in the world, but the curves of the field and focal point of the telegraph pole work quite well. It was a hot July day, which I think comes across somewhat in the brightness of the picture. Finally, the characters of the title were jiggled around with, to appear typewritten or labelled on, and coloured brown to blend into the photograph.

The record: Rye Coalition, like Current, aren't a huge favourite of mine, and this record is mostly for the Max Colby song. But Rye Co (Max Co and Rye Co... ha!) have a pretty good mathy, angsty song here. It's surprisingly Slinty at the start, and has an emo-ish rhythm in parts not too dissimilar from the songs on the split above. If you want to hear more early Rye Coalition, check out rgratzer's post here, and my link in the first comment there.

The Rye Coalition and Maximillian Colby sides complement each other nicely, in a similarly slinty/mathy style. 'One Gallon Alda' is a pretty aggressive track at times, and at times very heavy for an emo band. Listening to this should make you want to thrash, as well as stare in awe at your stereo speakers (which is why there are alternately quiet and loud parts). Almost as good as 'New Jello', which is the first track on their epic discography CD ('One Gallon Alda' is one of the last few tracks) and probably the one single Max Colby songs that everyone needs to hear.

Beyond that, I can best refer you to the description from Lovitt Records which I posted in my last post on Shotmaker/Maximillian Colby:

"Neither purely aggressive nor depressingly somber, Maximillian Colby's music creates soundscapes that can rupture the eardrums and soon after lull the mind"


rgratzer says:

"if you really wanted to get an "emo" picture in there, you should crop it terribly, crank up the contrast so that it's basically a stencil, and then situate the picture near a corner while the rest of the cover is blank space ;)"

I say, funny you should say that; because that pretty much describes perfectly this cover:

www.mesaverde.co.uk/mp3 (now defunct; see end of the last paragraph on Current/Indian Summer, above)

The photo: an inset of a larger photograph of an unidentified piece of machinery (rusted/broken, of course) found by railway tracks at Blackrock, on the Dublin coast. I coloured it a deep blue just to make it a bit more interesting than plain black and white; and also, with further similar mp3s, I made '[mesaverde II]' and '[mesaverde III]' compilations with identical covers, but coloured in crimson and gold, respectively. Apart from the general 'emo-ness' of the photograph, I was quite pleased with the placing of the objects, and the lower-case, square-bracketed text (also in deep blue, as you'll notice). From what I remember, the brackets also served the useful purpose of putting the compilation at the top of my iTunes list of albums, instead of down in the middle of all the real albums under 'm'.

The record: Mesa Verde (two words) was/is a 'emo' band from the UK - Scotland I think - and there was posted up on their website a long list of sample mp3 from a variety of key bands from that genre - basically everything from Rites of Spring's 'Drink Deep' to Orchid's 'Aesthetic Dialectic'. Not many surprises for most people on this site, I reckon, but a damn good compilation nonetheless and an excellent introduction to the genre, if it were to be posted up somewhere.


Indian Summer - Discography (link via Burning Down The Dreams of the Forever; entitled 'Science'), 1994

(One of my earliest covers, and probably the one I'm still most proud of; also, one of the most influential records in my listening history)

The photo: a close up of a tree trunk from a forest near the coast of Galicia, extreme north-west Spain. The bark was peeling from the trunk, leaving mostly a smooth surface behind. As you can probably see from the shaow, it was late afternoon so the sun was bright but it still left one side - the rough half - of the trunk in shadow. Using Photoshop I increased the contrast on the scan (I was still using film at the the time) and washed out all the pale surface of the tree trunk, leaving a blank surface for the title - always important. Looking back on it, I'm not sure the combination of the two fonts was best advised - they're just standard MS Word fonts, too - and is in fact maybe a little distracting. However, the curlicued band font I think adds a slightly exotic flavour, while picking up on the curves of the peeling bark; and the block letters for the title pick up on the sombreness and stark contrasts of the picture. Even more so than the Max Colby/Rye Coalition cover, the whiteness exudes heat along with the visual key of the dry, cracked bark; while it isn't technically faithful to the idea of an 'indian summer', it's recognizably connected.

The record: I'm not sure I know where to start... I've begun already with a short discussion of 'Orchard', so I guess I'll work from there. In the broad church of screamo, Envy and Indian Summer are indelibly linked for me, mainly because they were my original introduction to the genre but also they kind of stand as pioneers at both ends of its development - nearly. When I first heard this I was barely aware that people made music that was simultaneoulsy so achingly quiet and sweet, and crushingly loud and fierce. More than that, this discography is a perfect artistic experience, with its long, rambling epic songs, lightly recorded 'emo-peggio', lo-fi Bessie Smith samples to

"emulate the nights in Oakland we spent fucked up/passed out with the needle dragging the end of the slint LP"

and above all, its brash, crushing dynamism: most of which, it must be noted, is even starker than the slow build-up of 'Orchard' - songs like 'Angry Son' or 'Touching the Wings of an Angel' literally erupt from nothingness; or at least mumbling, half-silent near-nothingness.

This release could really do with its own post, but plenty of blogs have got there first. Sweetbabyjaysus sums it up as follows:

"When it comes to beauty in the genre, Indian Summer have found their place well. Coming out of Oakland, they brought a sense of earnestness hardcore was missing. They brought to the table their influences and mixed them with their own ideas and personal politics, creating something that would live past it's physical time. Like many of the greats of the day they too were short lived, only nine songs recorded total, but each a testament to their majesty.

This is the sound of the celebrated summer."


Or blend77, from one of the very earliest posts on his blog (I've included the comments section, which is kind of weird, but nevertheless it says nearly as much about the importance of the band as the reviews do; and also, the 'real' cover of the discography - or of one of the discographies - which I hadn't seen before making the cover, yet which nevertheless has an interesting similarity with it):

"Seeing as how this is the beginning of a new blog, I will take the opportunity to give you a small idea of what I am up to. This blog is a place for me to give homage to all the things that are amazing and creative in this world, artists that break the boundaries of what is considered music and art. I have a very healthy obsession with music so I plan to offer exposure to bands and musicians I find to have contributed something important to the evolution of music. I also work as an artist in NYC so I would like to introduce artists that I find relevant, or maybe even some classics that have be influential through the years. I may also share other oddities and curiosites that I come across in everyday life. But for now, let's continue with the music.

Indian Summer is an emo band. Oops, I said it, "Emo". The word that has everyone spouting opinions and criticisms. I'm not going to take the time to explain to you what emo is, you either know, or think you know, or you don't care. Its somewhat relative anyway. If you really want to find out, check here. Either way Indian Summer are without a doubt one of the best and shining examples of that form of music; from the quiet-loud dynamics and whispered-screamed lyrics, all the way down to the lo-fi quality and even Bessie Smith records playing in the background. 9 songs of chaotic screamy emo hardcore, the sum total of their recorded career. All of their stuff is out of print, including this discography, so take the opportunity to grab this one for your collection."


Anonymous said...

Amazing band. I'm looking forward to what you are going to be posting in this blog, it's been pretty good already.

3:43 PM

Jake said...

Thanks for posting this. I've been looking for it forever. You're the only other person I've met in years who's even heard of Indian Summer. Judging from what you've posted so far it looks like we came of age around the same time musically.

6:31 PM

blend77 said...

no problem. ^_^ it took me forever to find it in MP3 format.. i have the 7"s but no record player. v_v....

apparently many younger kids searching for the original emo have found all sorts of great stuff and are keeping it alive. and they all talk about it and post all the time. keep in touch, i got some good stuff comin.

7:36 PM

YoYoPunk said...

This is amazing! Thank you so much!

1:18 PM

blend77 said...

nice! ^_^ big smiles...

4:01 PM

Sam said...

I think "Angry Son" on a weird vinyl rip was the key moment in my music listening career. In a certain sense, everything I've done concerning the underground since that point has been to recapture the first time I heard that song.

3:06 AM


The best information and random unreleased tuneage on Indian Summer is probably to be found here:


Who'd a thunk?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mohinder - Everything

For the first proper post of the year, I thought I would get back to the real roots of the blog. Not just the Hoover-emo of the last set of posts, but the real, fiery hardcore emo of the likes of the Swing Kids, Honeywell, or Guyver-1. In addition, this means a start on clearing the backlog of 'Coming Soon' posts.

Mohinder hailed from Cupertino, California, between 1993 and 1994. If you'll allow, I'll call them an extra-San Diego-core band. Extremely fast, melodic hardcore emo or "a deeply melodic hardcore band with basslines that twisted all around your skull, these songs were gems boiled down to one or two minute epics" fourfa.com). For this style, nothing beats Swing Kids, at least in my opinion, but Mohinder come close. They have the same gnarly bass which becomes audible - or rather, distinguishable - in those moments where the songs stop, resting in a moment of ominous and fleeting silence before pinwheeling back into frantic noise. Mohinder had the early screamo sound down pat, too: barely recognizable singing passing by at a blistering pace, erupting now and then into plaintive wailing.

You bastards, you cowards...

...no, you don't know how I feel


Perhaps Mohinder's songs don't have the same consistency of quality as Swing Kids - there are more of them, but too many moments of noise, tinny recordings or spoken word pieces (though the last is pretty good, at the start of 'Itch'... sounds like a Clinton soundbite? Ah, the mid-90s...) And the sound may not have the novelty of Honeywell, the real shredding vocals - but what it does have is some of the best melody and tunefulness (in an abrasive, twisted way) to be found in the specific genre. Listening to Mohinder is exhilarating not just due to the pummelling speed and heaviness, but because of the way the guitars twist up the tune and deliver it so intensely and momentarily.

Which is also why this kind of music should be listened to in relatively small bursts - otherwise it really does become just pummelling noise. That's no problem if you happen to have the original 7"s, but the way I got into this band was through the full Gold Standard Labs discography,* released in 2000. In total its length of about 40 minutes = a normal album, but listening to it like that ruined the experience for me. Hence I later split it in half, as I did with the Honeywell discography as well.

I also rearranged the tracklisting of the discography a little, in order to divide it up better and also because the GSL disc seemed to have one 7" in a completely muddled order:

(Info from http://www.t-dt-b.org/ **)

Everything - Vol. I

(To Satisfy 7”, 1994 Unleaded Records – UN-002)

1. To Satisfy

2. Run

3. Give

4. Inhuman Nature

5. Numb

(Nitwits/Mohinder Split 7”, 1994 Unleaded/Stinky Feet)

6. Number One

7. Imbalance

8. Itch

Everything - Vol. II

(The Mission 7”, 1994 Gravity Records)

1. The Mission

2. Alien

3. Acceptance

4. Division

5. The Static Cult

6. Beautiful

7. One Warrior

8. Expiration

9. Of Sound Mind

10. 101

I've left off the two live tracks plus the long song from the We've Lost Beauty comp. If you want to try this link from Zen and the Art of Face Punching, it might have them, plus the tracks in the original discography order! I love being complicated...

(* GSL-034. As of last year, Gold Standard Labs is defunct as a record label. I got the discography as an eMusic download, by the way - no longer available - so there should also be CD and LP versions floating around. You can check out their website, which has some very cool flash animation at the start. Or see the wikipedia article - which reads very much like a press release - about the label's history and such events as the 2001 "2-story show/eviction party that included performances by The Blood Brothers, The Locust, Moving Units, Gogogo Airheart, and De Facto" in the San Diego apartment they briefly shared with Three One G)

(** according to which, there is a third 7" called Transient Sequences, which has the song #101', along with Nitwits split tracks, ‘Give’ and ‘Numb’ from To Satisfy, plus two further songs ‘Ellipse’ and ‘Channelled’ not featured on the discography. ???)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fight Like Apes, Live @ The Village, 31.12.2007

A review in pictures. Not live pictures, of course - that's so 2007. (Plus I never take any, in the first place). Click to see larger.

(And a few words below...)

(Phantom just got their license a year or so ago, so they have plenty of cool adverts around the place. This one I cut out of Mongrel magazine - the back has an article on "art and anti-semitism" in Syria)

(Front page of the Irish Times entertainment section two weeks ago. Yes, I hate their puns too.)

(Because it's traditional)

('Do You Karate?'. Well, do you? T-shirt from the merch table, in lovely bright red)

Happy 2008!

One of the support acts, Betamax Format, impressed me very much (the other, Red Kid, was so-so; although to their credit they put on an excellent live performance, before setting off again to perform on Howth summit, a hilltop quite literally on the edge of town... where the sea begins). Anyway, Betamax Format, with a name suggesting both the 80s and a taste for the alternative, played a great set from beginning to end.

Their myspace describes them as New Wave/Electro and also as "Sallynoggin Psych", presumably after the area in Dublin where some or all of the band hail from. Surprisingly heavy, with some good vocals and some awesome visuals. The opener was played against a backdrop of stock footage of explosions, demolitions and so on, including thermonuclear mushrooms; followed by something completely different, flower buds in the rain or something like that; and finally, what looked liked the trailer from Tarantino's Deathproof. Happily, as I write this 'You Are Welcome In My House' is playing on the radio... very good.

I guess you could say the headliners, Fight Like Apes, played a blinder. With the ability to pull in a full house, they're clearly one of (last) year's indie success stories in Ireland. Although I'd rate the other sellout show by them I got to see slightly higher, this was an amazing gig.

The blindingness might have come from the flashing red and blue lights on their novelty sunglasses, worn for the special occasion - although we are talking about a band where the keyboardist wears a martial arts jacket onstage. The bassist was allowed to play a power chord, following which he flubbed part of the intro to 'Jake Summers'. He's a six-foot (at least) tall Irishman with a 'fro, by the way. So when I say flubbed, I mean improvised. Also, if any of you are listening to 'Accidental Wrong Hole' from the Zeitgeist mixtape, listen out for the saucepans being banged together. While the novelty sunglasses got tossed around the audience, for health and safety reasons the pans didn't.

Fight Like Apes came on stage about 11.40, and stopped their set with a minute to go before midnight and announced that they didn't have any one-minute long songs, but they did have a 4-second long song - so they played that a couple of times. They played it twice the last time I saw them, too, but that was because they messed it up the first time around. New Year's duly celebrated, they played 'Lend Me Your Face' to welcome in '08 and closed their show with another cover of Mclusky's 'Lightsaber Cocksucking Blues'.

The night could not be left without a mention of Phantom FM's resident nortamericano and premier DJ, Sinister Pete, who took over the deck for the rest of the celebrations. No stale disco standards, just cool tracks by the likes of Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire (No Cars Go!) and that song about whiteboys playing that funky music. It was strange seeing him in person, having woken up to his voice and hum'rous wisecracks pretty much every day for the past year. On radio, he looked taller...