Hey everybody. It is with a heavy heart that I announce that, starting immediately, I will be closing down this blog.
...For the next week or two. Was that a bad place to pause? Oh, sorry. Yeah, okay. I see how that could have sent the wrong message. I'll work on
Anyway, so I'm gonna take a Blogcation. It's summer (yay!) and my life right now is pretty nuts and I've sort of hit a wall when it comes to offering up entertaining/interesting stuff to post, so I'm taking a rest for a week or two. This will give me some time to do some much-needed refocusing and decide just what this little spot of mine on the Beloved Internets is for these days, as some of my attention is diverted to the Forum (where a lot of my "Hey! Check this awesome thing out!" posts have gone) and microblogging over at Twitter (which is way fun, BTW).
Anyway, so the Mix will still drop on the first and I'll be Twittering, so it's not like I'm dying or anything. Unless I actually do die. In which case, can you book the Flaming Lips to play the wake or whatever it's called? And tell them not to skimp on the confetti. And we are so serving Swedish meatballs. I want you guys to party like never before. You deserve it. Also, just a thought: Solid. Gold. Coffin. Too tacky? What if it's covered in jewels? Hey, if I'm going out, I'm going out like a freakin' Pharaoh, man.
So anyway, enjoy yourselves. I'll be back with the all-new, all-different, all-improved Big Red Robot soon. We will be ready for business of the serious sort when we return. Believe that.
In the meantime, if you could take a moment and drop me a comment letting me know what you'd like to see more of (or less of) here, I'd sure appreciate it. I aim to please.
Or a dolphin on my ankle. Either way.
More adventurous that their breakthrough album, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, 1995's Wowee Zowee is the Pavement album I'd listen to forever if necessary. There's plenty to keep one's attention here: "Fight This Generation," "Kennel District," "Serpentine Pad," "Pueblo," "Father To A Sister Of Thought". Basically, the entire album.
The fractured melodies, odd time shifts and obtuse lyrics were way more exciting than the boiler-plate second wave grunge that was being served up on 103.5 - the Edge (totally xtreme name, dude!) - at the time. And it's still more exciting than most, it's a classic, timeless album. Listen to 90% of anything else released in 1995 and I can guarantee you it'll sound like it was released in 1995. Not so here. It's an underground gem.
As great as the two albums that came after this are (Brighten the Corners and Terror Twilight), Pavement never quite matched the oddness displayed on this album. This is an album for defying whatever Number One has planned for you on this seemingly benign but ultimately devious little island paradise.
Okay, so this has been fun. I'm sure I can do it again five years from now with an entirely different configuration, and if the Internet (not to mention America) is still around by then, maybe I will. Sound good? Mmmkay. It's a date, then.
Be sure to head over and check out Rose's list. Has anybody else given this any thought? Leave yr comments below or you can always start a discussion over at the Big Red Forum. Until next time, my fellow castaways.
- Jim Fusilli
33 1/3 Series.
Yo La Tengo
If Lou Reed had relaxed a bit, married Mo Tucker and settled down in suburban New Jersey, it'd sound a lot like this.
I don't know if this is YLT's best album (they've been making consistently great records since 1993's Painful), but it's my favorite. It's a perfect mix of all the stuff this band does: The shoegazey epicness of "Deeper Into Movies", the maudlin "Shadows", the country-ish "One PM Again", the baroque pop of "Center Of Gravity." It's like a big stew of everything great about rock & roll, served at just the right temperature.
Basically, they're the kind of band I'd love to be in. Put this one on while you go for a moonlit swim in that pristine lagoon. just make sure you wait a half hour after you've eaten. Wouldn't want to cramp up or anything.
Also, the very first BRR mix is now posted in the sidebar. Remember that one? Aaah, we were so much younger then.
And I think that's all for the bonus mixxes. I'm pretty sure they're all archived now. Whew! Anybody downloaded any of them yet? Do you love them? How about high Five! or It Came From the Garage! or any of them, actually? Are the mixtapes in general worth your/my time? Please tell me. Won't you?
Mortality is a fact of life. We will all die, every one of us and everyone we love or hate or know tangentially. Everyone. Our bodies will disintegrate into the earth that spawned us while bugs eat us, plants eat us, the dirt eats us. We'll molder and decay and the world will keep spinning through the vast blackness of space, until that too dies suddenly one technicolored Wednesday morning and all you can think of is love.
You wouldn't expect morbid thoughts like this to be the basis of the last great psychedelic album of the 20th century, but when you're dealing with the Flaming Lips, you learn to expect the unexpected. From the anthemic opening track "Race For the Prize," a tale of two scientists racing for some sort of cure to some sort of disease (maybe death itself?) through to the dusky instrumental closer, "Sleeping On the Roof," we're treated to a gorgeous, layered and trippy album about life, death, love and space.
You know, the important stuff.
Listen to it while you watch the night horizon for signs of rescue, fighting off hallucinations brought on by malnutrition, dehydration and that spider bite on your hand.
I've already confessed my love for this album on this very blog, so I'll just say that this is a beautiful album and your life will greatly be enriched by it. Also, if you get the chance to see the man live, do it. He's hilarious and it's a great time.
Put this one on while you're hanging out in that wacky subterranean hatch whose weird blast door entrance you dug up and whose contents can be only described as inscrutably mysterious.
Harry Nilsson has my favorite voice in all of music ever. If you don't agree, just give a listen to "I'll Never Leave You" off of this album. It'll break your cold, cold heart. His voice on that track is like velvet. Sad, sad velvet.
I'm pretty sure I could listen to this one forever and ever and ever. From the upbeat opener, "Gotta Get Up" to "Driving Along" and "Jump Into the Fire", to the sad ballads like "The Moonbeam Song," or "Early In the Morning," this is a classic. If you don't own it, shame on you.
Plus, how awesome would it be to listen to "The Coconut Song" while eating an actual coconut?! Did I just blow your mind?
Also, I'm still looking for comments re: next month's mix, Like A Knife Through the Night, so there's that, too. Leave them here or leave them there. Just leave them, that's all I care!
Hooray for inadvertent Dr. Seuss-ish ramblings!
Um, that's all. Carry on.
Thankfully, not everybody who loves Star Wars is like me and just sits around bellyaching about how much opportunity was wasted, how much a franchise that was so cool could go so wrong or how fake Qui-Gon's beard looked. Some people actually [gasp!] do something about it. I know, crazy, right?
John Seavey over at Fraggmented - when he's not figuring out how and why superhero comics work with his always excellent Storytelling Engines series (I tried linking to it, but couldn't make it work. Duh!) - has been serializing some fixes for the problems of the Prequels.
And they work. Like, really, really well. I'm jealous.
I'd definitely brave lines full of Jedi cosplay nerds singing that freaking Weird Al song to see his versions of Episode One, Episode Two and Episode 3. Give them a read and see if you would, too.
And judging by some comments (or he's probably mentioned it and I missed it) he made in Episode 3's comments section, he's going to take a crack at the Original Trilogy, which could prove interesting. (Just don't touch Empire and we won't have any problems, mmmkay?)
And who knows? With Crazy Old Uncle George always mucking with his movies, maybe he'll just redo all of them and have Seavey write them. What? It's no more far-fetched than the whole midichlorians thing. Yeesh, what the heck was that all about?
Again, I'm forgoing the obvious. Seems to be a theme on this list. Remain In Light, until recently, would have been my go-to Talking Heads album, but I don't know. This is a great album (their first to be produced by my personal hero, Brian Eno), and I'd like an opportunity to re-familiarize myself with it. Plus, yeah, it's cover is "off the chain," so to speak.
More Songs is a jittery, funky, danceable punk rock album. Which sounds like it'd be a mess, but it works. Album opener "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel" is pure joyous nonsense with the repeated lyric "You can walk / You can / Talk just like me." "Stay Hungry", may or may not have something to do with the bodybuilding documentary of the same name ("Move a muscle" gets repeated a lot). "I'm Not In Love", is one of their punkier numbers, with its power chording and stop and start rhythms. And "Found A Job", a song about a couple tired of the same old crap on TV who decide to make their own TV show with friends and families, espoused the DIY ethos that was in full effect in the New York scene and prefigures the possibilities the Internets has opened up.
The most recognizable track, a cover of Al Green's soul classic "Take Me To the River" is a weird, loping, funky, awkward but excellent number and the track that sold me on this group. It's a soul standard covered by a bunch of art school punk rockers and it really shouldn't work. But, oh it does.
Anyway, this is a great album. I'm gonna go spin it up right now. Perfect for dancing after those barbecue parties with the natives. As long as you're not the main course, that is.
Guided By Voices
Again, Bee Thousand would probably be a more obvious pick, but there's a surplus of great tracks on this one. "Cut Out Witch," "Bright Paper Werewolves," "Acorns and Orioles," "Your Name is Wild," "Ghosts Of A Different Dream." And that's just five off-the-top-of-my-head tracks of the 24 tracks on the album.
This will keep you company at nights when the disembodied whispers start in the jungle. It's a great "disembodied whisper" album. "Guided by voices," indeed.
Chris Haley and I ping-ponged back and forth to make a glorious little mix. It's called Ping Of Pong which is a ridiculous title, but it works. It was way fun and the results are pretty superb.
See for yourself.*
In other news, I've been wrestling with August's mix, Like A Knife Through the Night. It looks like it might be a little mellow, sort of tired and droney. My idea of "late-night driving music" is a little beleaguered, lights streaking through darkness, roads stretching out infinitely, the moon hanging over you like some watchful, all-seeing eye as it makes ghost outlines of the landscape. Everybody else is sleeping soundly and you're alone with your thoughts and the music and they're both solitary and deep and sort of spooky.
Is this going to bum everybody out? Let me know.
* PS: There is a little cussin' in this mix. Just so you know.
Via You Ain't No Picasso.
The Beach Boys
I bet you thought I was going to go with Pet Sounds, huh? While that's a masterpiece, and my love for it is well-documented, this is maybe my favorite Beach Boys album. Either this or Wild Honey and this one has Dennis' "Little Bird" on it, which is an amazing song, so Friends wins by a nose, I guess.
This is the album a genius makes when he's taken too many drugs and becomes a totally paranoid agoraphobic who lays in bed all day, getting out every once in a while to swim in the pool or write something like "Busy Doin' Nothin'" or "I Went To Sleep" (which can be heard on the BRR Monthly Mix Bed Is For Sleeping, available for download here absolutely free of charge). It's a very warm, laid-back, homey album that could be listened to repeatedly while laying in hammock somewhere, getting the heck sunburned out of oneself.
Do you feel smarter now? Good. My work is done, then.
Also, I'm digging this blog quite a lot.
I easily could have picked Bringin' It All Back Home or Highway 61 Revisited from Dylan's late-60's period, but this one's a double album and again, I love that cover.
It's a pretty fair description of Dylan at the time and the album in particular: totally out of focus, turned on its side and impatiently pissed off. It's so ridiculous, so apocalyptic, so thin and wild and speeding toward some terrible crash.
It's the perfect album for dropping boulders on Piggy.
Tough call, but I love this Beatles album the mostest. Picking the best Beatles album is pretty impossible, so I'm going with my favorite. Sgt. Pepper's is probably a better album and a more obvious choice, but the mixture of solid pop and reigned-in psychedelia on display here gets me every time. I mean, look at that track list. Can you find a song that isn't brilliant or that won't get old? Because I sure can't.
Plus, if you're going to be stuck on an island indefinitely, you need album art you can stare at for a while while you're waiting for your wild boar to cook so you can share a nice meal with your only friend, the bloody volleyball.
You've heard of Desert Island Discs, right? Where you're crashed on a deserted island and somehow you had the foresight to bring along some music and something to play it on (or maybe you just brought the music and then constructed something from coconut shells, bamboo and assorted monkey parts to play it on after you'd tried to establish some semblance of civilization but before you all went crazy and killed and ate each other because the pig's head told you to?) and what would that music be?
This question, what music I'd listen to forever in an island prison/paradise, has always haunted me ever since the concept was introduced to me via that free magazine Tower Records used to put out, Pulse! (I don't think I was the target audience for that magazine, although I inhaled it every time I got my nerdy little paws on it. There was always a lot of Steely Dan - which I thought was a typo for Steely Dawn, which is a much more evocative band name, BTW - on those lists. Judging solely by that criteria, I suspect it was intended for middle-aged high school band teachers/music store employees. Or just any guy with ponytail and/or mustache.)
It's a heavy, personality-revealing question, what ten records you'd listen to until you died from dehydration/infection/getting smashed against a tree by a crazy smoke monster. You know, typical island danger. It requires some soul-searching, this D.I.D. thing. I mean, it's just those 10 albums! (I realize that Wiki says it's eight pieces on the BBC show, but they don't figure in inflation, plus that's probably in Metric and I'm not exactly sure how to convert that to English measurements, especially with the dollar performing so poorly in foreign markets so I'm just gonna go with 10 pieces. Roll with it.) That's it! They've got to be perfect! No filler here!
At 15 years old and with as many CDs in my library, I was still figuring out where the boundaries of my taste lie (let's put it this way: you probably couldn't have played lawn darts in those boundaries, let alone full-contact football) and was odiously ill-equipped to make these type of decisions.This is no game for children. This is serious business. Now I'm not saying my tastes are football-field-sized as of now, but I think I am maybe in a better position to make these hard decisions, knowing full well that any list I make is instantly outdated and subject to change given the day, week, or temperature. This idea was unfathomable to the teenaged me who feared that such a list, once set, was set infinitely. But I'm not so nuts now. Or at least a different kind of nuts.
For the next ten days, I will be posting one Desert Island Disc* here on the good ole' blog. Feel free to tell me I'm crazy in the comments section, start your own list on the Forum or, if you decide to do something similar on yr blog, lemme know and I'll link to it. Cool? The first installment will be crashing-landing later today. Watch out for debris.
* This list is in no way definitive and may change due to any whim by its creator. This list is the intellectual property of Big Red Robot, Inc. a subsidiary of BloodCo, a Martian Overlord company. Martian Overlord: "Quietly enslaving the human race through covert means since we first laid eyes on your puny planet." ™ & © 2008.
Anyway, you're all invited. Come over and play.
Gotta get this one out of my system, so, bonus mix for you! From its genesis in the opiate haze of the Velvets and onto the trash glam of the Dolls, the fight rock of the Stooges and beyond, punk rock crawled out of garages the whole world over, punching us in the collective face and stealing our girlfriend. How can you argue with something so primitive? It's like reasoning with Frankenstein's monster.
Download it here.
01. "I'm a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm"
02. "Don't need no mom and dad"
03. "I don't even know my name"
04. "I'm throwing up in the hall"
05. "There's gonna be a new race"
06. "No matter what you do or say"
07. "You make me feel just like a savage"
08. "I only get sleepless nights"
09. "It's gonna drive me insane"
10. "Put on our best frowns"
11. "A rock n roll nurse went into my head"
12. "I hate music"
13. "Do the alligator"
14. "I just gotta hear that band play"
15. "World ending, it's just beginning"
16. "Look out here, you pompous jerk"
17. "I need to shake it"
18. "Come on baby and bomb with the twist"
19. "Now I wish I was dead"
20. "Don't want you cause You're - A - Bore"
So, as you already know, the winner for BRR Monthly Mix for July 2008 is none other than ... High Five!, 20 tracks designed to make you hap-hap-happy! If it does the trick, it should cause a little bit of this:
Yeah. That's the stuff.
Now I'm not conceited enough to say it's the perfect soundtrack for summer barbecues, family get-togethers and semi-annual witch burnings to ensure a profitable autumn harvest - you know, normal summer stuff - but it can be used as such in a pinch. Just don't try and use it as a flotation device. That will not work. Trust me.
Here's the tracklist:
01. Utah Rangers - "Bad Day For A Bad Hair Day"
02. Preston School Of Industry - "Falling Away"
03. Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"
04. Phoenix - "Consolation Prizes"
05. Junior Senior - "We' R The Handclaps"
06. They Might Be Giants - "High Five!"
07. The Halo Benders - "Don't Touch My Bikini"
08. The Aliens - "The Happy Song"
09. Los Campesinos! - "Frontwards"
10. The New Pornographers - "Letter From An Occupant"
11. Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - "Live Wire"
12. Ben Folds Five - "Kate"
13. Ween - "Roses Are Free"
14. The Go Team! - "Doing It Right"
15. The B-52's - "6060-842"
16. Plumtree - "Scott Pilgrim (EP Version)"
17. Pine Hill Haints - "Death By Stereo"
18. Buddy Holly & The Crickets - "Rock Around With Ollie Vee"
19. Pooh Sticks - "Let The Good Times Roll"
20. William Shatner - "Common People"
That's right, I pulled out the Shatner on you. This is that serious.
Download it here, and make sure to come back here and let me know how you liked it, mmmkay?