Friday, April 30, 2010

Outkast - ATLiens (LP, 1996)

And here's where things start to get wonderfully weird.

It wouldn't be until their next record that Outkast would realize they needed to get almost completely unhinged for the public to take notice, but this was one more step in the right direction. Again, their penchant for slow grooves may have prevented them (initially) from grabbing the ears of the mass masses, but people who had already noticed them their first time out were ready for something more, and they got it. But it wasn't just more of the same. Though "Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)" seemed determined to set the stage for Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik Part II, after that things shift gears quick. (Outkast have a knack for picking a lead-off track on their albums that has almost nothing to do with the rest of the songs. This would not be the last time.)

From Andre's verse on the title track, you can tell things aren't going to be business as usual. And if you saw the video, you knew they had either lost their minds (catacombs?) or were on some next-level shit that the rest of hip hop hadn't even begun to imagine yet. Thankfully, it was the latter. I could go on forever about how awesome it was that Dre shunned everything about traditional hip hop (especially in appearance), but I won't get off on that rant. You know what a gutsy move it was. And it would have backfired (within "popular" music, at least) if the music wouldn't have been so great that nobody could say a damn thing about it.

So, here, the rough template was set for the next phase of Outkast's career. Big Boi was the de facto hard-ass (ball cap), Andre was the still-searching philosopher (genie skully). You start the album with a one-minute ease-in - something that sounds like the beginning of a sci-fi flick. You juke 'em out with a first cut that sounds like it was left over from the last album, then you reel 'em in with an hour's worth of the dopest of the dope new shit. Somewhere near the end you let a slow, spacey groove ride for way too long and let Big Rube say a bunch of bizarre shit over the top of it.

And it all works.

"Jazzy Belle"

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Outkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (CD, 1994)

This record was released when the dudes in Outkast were 19, so they probably recorded it when they were 18. Look at those young-ass dudes. Getting shit done.

And getting it done right. While this will probably always be remembered as "The Outkast album that was recorded before Dre started dressing like a weirdo," it shouldn't be written off as not worthy of their catalog. Yeah, it's probably my least favorite album of theirs, but that's mostly because their other ones are so damn incredible. The fact that it only took Outkast one album to get tired of talking about pimpin' and gangsta shit and move on to bigger and better things is a testament to how smart these guys are. Sure, some of that stuff would get play in their later albums, but it seemed like it was just there to maintain a little cred (or maybe to appease the always-harder Big Boi). Maybe that's just my interpretation.

Either way, this is definitely the most un-Outkast of all the Outkast albums, but it also plants the seeds for what's to come. The beats slump in parts, but they maintain a consistency throughout the album. That ends up being both a good and a bad thing. If you're in the mood for Southern smoothness that thumps, you'll be good to go. If you're looking for them to mix it up a little more, you may get lulled into submission by the similarity of some of the tracks. Initially, at least. Once you spend some serious time with this record, the songs start to spread themselves apart. I'll admit, it took me a while to really get down with this whole thing.

A lot of the tracks are over five minutes long, so you've got to be ready to hang with 'em. "Git Up, Git Out" is a sweet song (with a surprising message), but at over seven minutes, it gets long. The tendency to hammer the hooks home is there, and it can get to be a bit much. "Funky Ride" is downright taxing. But, the raps are so dope that it usually doesn't matter. "D.E.E.P.," one of the last cuts on the record, foreshadows what's to come on the next record, and features Dre getting all abstract. It's cool shit, and it's one of the first signs of the group getting inside their own heads and seeing what comes out. It would serve them well in the future. You know that.

"Player's Ball"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I Went to a Show: Eddie Spaghetti at Dantes (April 28, 2010)

I just can't let go. I've been following him for too long. So when Supersuckers front dude Eddie Spaghetti comes to town, I go see him. And I always enjoy myself. I pretty much know what to expect from an Eddie Spaghetti solo show at this point, and while he covered the usual bases at this one, he also threw in some oddballs. And really, that's all you can ask for.

He was in good spirits, and unlike the last time I saw him, he was all by himself this time around. Eddie fancies himself a showman, so there's always plenty of banter with the crowd. But I've seen his show enough times now to know that a lot of it's made to look off-the-cuff, when it's really just part of the act. He has a bit where he "forgets the words" to "Cocaine Blues," which I didn't realize was a bit until I saw him do it for the second time last night. He also has his standard "Awesomeology" rant, which is usually reserved for Supersuckers shows, but he whipped it out at this one, though it was a shorter version than usual.

There's been an element of predictability in both Eddie's shows and Supersuckers shows for some time now, and it's clearly not going away. The 'Suckers mixed it up a little bit the last time I saw them, and that was nice, but before that they had been playing roughly the same set for years. Anyway, I'm not going to get off on that tangent. The show on Wednesday had some of that predictability, like I said, but there were some nice surprises.

Not sure that I had ever heard Eddie do "Bubblegum & Beer" by himself, which was pretty cool. A couple of meatheads stumbled in towards the end of the set and yelled, "Rock & Roll Records!," and as I scoffed, Eddie started it up and did the entire song - even some of the solo-y stuff. That was sweet. He also did a random cover of "Sammy Hagar Weekend" by Thelonious Monster, which I had never heard him do before. Other than that, it was the standard tunes. But he still delivers 'em like he cares, which is impressive.

And maybe I'm getting older and don't mind knowing what I'm going to get when I go to a show. But man, I felt like a chump surrounded by people who are only there to hear him do "Killer Weed" and "Non-Addictive Marijuana." Grim bunch.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How to Remove Price Tag Residue From Your LPs.

For me, my favorite part of my record collection is the actual music that's on the LPs. For the most part, I enjoy the songs that are on every piece of vinyl I own. Within that framework, I do get slightly obsessive when it comes to collecting the artists I like. I'd prefer an early pressing to a later one. If there's a rarer version of a certain LP, I'd like to have that one. And once I've purchased two albums by a band/artist, I'll feel the need to get all the full-lenths they ever released. It's the completist in me.

I spend a lot of my time shopping for records, thinking about records, and playing my records. So, it should come as no surprise that I want my records to look as nice as possible. It's all part of it for me. Even though they spend most of their time filed on a shelf, I want to be able to pull any LP out and know that it's going to look as sharp as can be. Bends in the cover or dinged corners aren't something I can do anything about. I bought the ticket, I knew what I was getting into. But I hate leaving the price tags on things. Because there is something I can do about that. And I do it.

I was thinking about this while I was going through the records I bought on my trip to L.A. (see my previous post), putting them in sleeves while generally examining their contents and playing some of them. Amoeba is one of those stores that puts price tags on both the cover and the actual record, so you've got twice the amount of work to do to get rid of them. They also use some of the gummiest stickers ever, so there's no clean peeling.

The process I use is still time-consuming, but it works, and it'll let you sleep at night, knowing there's not some tacky sticker clinging to your recent purchases. Basically, you just need to get yourself a bottle of this stuff:
Goo Gone. I use the one pictured here, the spray gel formula. If you've ever pulled the old trick of using WD-40 to remove sticker gunk, this stuff works in the exact same way (really well), but instead of smelling like fuel, it smells like oranges. It gets rid of the gunk, quickly evaporates, and even the orange scent disappears pretty quickly too.

I usually peel the sticker off by hand - slowly and carefully - making sure I don't take any of the paper from the LP with it. If it comes off clean, sweet. If not, get as much as you can off with your fingernails, and then spray a tiny bit of the Goo Gone on a paper towel and rub that shit on the gunky area. Seriously - you hardly need to use any of the spray. If it's just a tiny bit of gunk, it'll come off easily. If you've still got paper from the sticker on there, that'll come off, too, but you'll have to use more of the spray gel. For a tough one, I'll rub the gunk with the most spray-saturated part of the towel, and thin flip the towel over and rub it with the dry side. For whatever reason, this not only dries the area, but it also seems to lift some of the chunks off.

This stuff works best on record covers with a glossy finish. It'll work on ones with a matte finish (and even straight-up cardboard - I'm looking at you, indie 7"s), but be careful: I've seen it take some of the ink with it. I've never come close to ruining a record cover, but I've slightly faded some deep black before.

Everyone's got their own methods for how to do this stuff; this is mine. It was on the brain. Thought I'd put it out there. Obviously, this stuff works way quicker on plastic. If you've got CD or DVD covers with gunk on 'em, you don't even have to worry about how much to use. Take the paper covers out of the case and just go nuts.

Word. I'm open to other suggestions.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Go Record Shopping at Amoeba Music in L.A.

Sometimes everything just lines up perfectly.

Through some web post (or maybe a tweet) having to do with Music Millennium, I got linked to a recent Paste article that listed the 17 Coolest Record Stores in America. Music Millennium was on the list, somewhere in the middle. At the top was Amoeba Music in L.A. Now, I've been to the Amoeba in San Francisco a few times, and it was always an incredible experience. So I didn't doubt that the L.A. location was just as good, but probably bigger and with way more stuff.

As I was reading the article, I couldn't help but remember that I was going to Los Angeles in a couple of weeks for work. The idea of hitting Amoeba while I was there instantly crossed my mind, but since I have no idea where anything is down there (specifically the record store and the hotel where the conference was that I'd be attending), and because the city is so goddamned big, I figured there was no chance that it would work out. But I decided to give it a look-see. I Google Mapped the shit out of the hotel and Amoeba, and was elated to find out that they were only a mile apart. I later got my itinerary for my trip, and found that I was staying in a hotel right next to the other hotel. Boom. I was going to make it happen.

I got into L.A. on a Wednesday night (this was last week), and didn't make it back to my hotel until almost 11. I had Friday dinner plans with some friends who live down there and I was leaving right after the conference ended on Saturday, so Thursday was going to have to be the night. After I finished up at the conference that night, I asked the front-desk girl to call me a cab, and I headed to Amoeba around 6. After a ten-dollar cab ride and a quick Baja Fresh stop for a burrito, I strolled into Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd. and immediately had to conceal my boner.

I didn't do a great job of taking photos of the inside, so this will have to do. (Here's a better one that's not mine.) The place, my friends, is huge. Everything is meticulously organized, there is solid signage hanging from the ceilings to let you know where to go to find what you're looking for, and they just have an insane amount of music. Apparently they have a huge DVD section upstairs, too, but I didn't even make it up there. I was looking for vinyl, and I also had to consider that I had to carry this shit back with me on the plane. Still, it didn't stop me from going a little bit nuts, walking out - almost four hours after I got there - with two bags of records.

Here's what will be a lengthy breakdown of what I got, starting with 12"s:

Sir Mix-A-Lot - "I Got Game" 12": I'm really getting into these Swass/Seminar-era Mix-A-Lot singles. They're always cheap, and most of 'em feature unreleased tracks. This one has a song called "Flow Show" that I definitely hadn't heard before.

Sir Mix-A-Lot - "Beepers" 12": This one has a song called "Players" on it. Never heard it before. And the sleeve is awesome.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Scars From Falling Down: Sealed, blue vinyl, ten bucks. Wanted to replace my CD copy, and I did so supremely. And the cover is different from the CD version, which is also awesome.

50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct: Was waiting to find this for under ten bucks. I did.

Eminem - Relapse: Same deal with this one.

Eminem - The Eminem Show: This record has somehow become a little bit tough to find on vinyl. I wanted to replace my CD copy, so I snatched it up. They didn't have it priced like it was rare, and that helped.

The Afros - Kickin' Afrolistics: I had convinced myself that this record was extremely rare, because I've been half-assedly looking for it for years and never found it. I finally did, and I was excited. Then I got it home and realized the record is slightly warped. (They had it taped shut in the store so I couldn't look at it.) I didn't pay a whole lot for it, so it's not the end of the world, but I'm a little annoyed. Then I looked at the completed listings on eBay, and realized it's not as in demand as I thought. Meh.

My record collection is constantly lacking many things, but one thing I've always been short on - especially in comparison to my collection of 12"s - is 7" records. My Supersuckers collection of 45s is second to none (somewhere around 50), but as far as my general stash goes, it's pretty small. Amoeba has an incredible amount of 7"s, and they're all organized by decade/genre, not to mention the huge bins of bargain records. After hitting the 12" sections, I spent a bunch of time flipping through the 7"s, and came out with more little records than I've ever bought in one trip, easily. Here's the long-ass list:

BOAT - "Topps": I bought this one based solely on the cover, which is something I rarely do these days. But it felt right, and the music ended up being pretty damn sweet. The hand-numbered 7" also came with a stick of gum. Nice touch.

Mudhoney - "Night of the Hunted": From that weird period when Mudhoney were releasing CDs on a major, but releasing the vinyl on their own Super Electro label. Signed by three members of the band and in sweet shape.

Mudhoney - "Into Your Shtik": Another Super Electro release. Both the b-sides from these two 7"s ("Brand New Face" and "You Give Me the Creeps" would end up on the March to Fuzz comp.

Best Kissers in the World - "Sweet Pea": I was specifically looking for this record, because it was the only Best Kissers 7" that I didn't own. Spent a long time going through all the 7"s, looking in spots where it might be, with no luck. As I was about to walk away, I decided to flip through one of the bargain bins that was on a bottom shelf. This one was four records back in the first row I tried, and it was a buck. Sometimes you can just will things to happen.

Frank Black - "Hang on to Your Ego": Already have this 12", but for two bucks, I couldn't resist. Mint condition. The record still had those little cardboard flecks on it.

Unwound - "Negated"/"Said Serial": After years of my brother pushing them on me, I'm really bulking up my Unwound collection in a big way. Amoeba had a bunch of nicely priced singles from them.

Unwound - "You Bite My Tongue": White cover with the typewriter etching on the back of the vinyl. Think this might be the second pressing.

Unwound - "Corpse Pose": In great shape, and I had already picked up two other ones, so what the hey.

Unwound - "Kandy Korn Rituals": They just kept coming.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - Tragedy Ecstasy Doom and So On: Gatefold double-7" EP from the Scars from Falling Down era. A tad bit beat up, but who cares.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - "Arizona Garbage Truck": Yellow vinyl and the b-side is "Voodoo Chile." I'll take it.

Steel Pole Bath Tub - "Venus in Furs"/"European Son": I have yet to listen to this, but I'm intrigued by Steel Pole doing Velvet Underground classics.

Built to Spill/Marine Research - "By the Way"/"Sick and Wrong": Split 7" that I see sometimes and decided I should probably just buy it.

Sprinkler - "Peerless": It's a shame that I can buy this band's singles for a dollar, but it doesn't mean I won't do it.

Tumor Circus - "Swine Flu": Steel Pole Bath Tub, Jello Biafra, one dollar. I'm in.

J Church - "Ivy League College": I know very little about this band, but my brother always liked 'em, and this was cheap.

J Church - She Said She Wouldn't Sacrifice: Three-song 7" with its own title. Listened to this one last night and liked it quite a bit.

Rein Sanction - "Creel": Sub Pop, 1991, fifty cents. Not sure I really like it.

How's that for a long blog post? I'm set to get back to regular posting, because I've basically taken a month off. Get ready for it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Event Attendance: Portland's Night Owl Record Show - April 17, 2010

First off, sorry for the recent neglect of the Alert. Every once in a while, I need a breather. You know this. Not sure if I'm fully back yet, but this is a step in the right direction. And after the weekend I had, I'm more excited about music than I've been in a while. And I'm always pretty excited about it.

So, Saturday was a record-lovin' trifecta for me. Not only was it the date of the semi-annual Night Owl Record show in SE Portland, but it was also Record Store Day. And on top of those two already super-sweet things, it was also the day I finally got my good turntable back from the shop, where it's been sitting/"being repaired" for almost six months. Yes, my Marantz 6100 is finally back in action, and in proper working order, no less. The story behind why it took so long to repair is a boring one, but I'll just say this: if you live in Portland and you need turntable repairs, hit me up and I'll tell you where not to go.

Anyway. I started off my afternoon by picking up my turntable, and then I decided to hit Music Millennium to see how Record Store Day was working out. There were a few Record Store Day exclusives that I was hoping to cop, but I knew that since I was getting such a late start (4PM-ish), I didn't have much of a shot. The Millennium was packed, and that was cool to see. I didn't find the Pavement LP I was looking for, but I did pick up the Built to Spill "Water Sleepers" 7" that was released for the occasion. The A-side is an unreleased track from the There Is No Enemy sessions, and the B-side is a live version of "Linus and Lucy," which is awesome.

I still had a little time to kill before the 5PM start time for the record show, so I hit Jackpot on Hawthorne, just to make sure they were cleaned out. They were. Queens of the Stone Age reissued the "Feel Good Hit of the Summer" single on 10" and I thought about picking that up, but in the end I decided to save my scratch for the Night Owl. Glad I did.

I got there right at 5, and it was already crowded by the time I waited in line and got in. (They do a 3PM early admission for $15, so there were people in there before they even opened the doors for the 5PM $2 people.) Still, I was able to spend a good hour in there before it got to be too crowded for me to handle. And even when it was, I spent another half hour in slight misery, getting in where I could fit in. It all paid off. While I always have good luck at the Night Owl, this time I really came home with some great stuff. As usual, I could have spent another $500 bucks easily (on Melvins records alone, even), but I left feeling satisfied.

Here's what I got:

Unwound - "Caterpillar" 7": A nice find for a few bucks.

Archers of Loaf - Vitus Tinnitus 10": Not sure if this is rare or not, but I've certainly never come across it before. (Side note - ran into by buddy Robi at the show, and he scored a copy of the Archers' Icky Mettle on LP for 10 bucks. That was a sweet find. I paid much more than that for mine on eBay, and it's a hard one to get a hold of.)

Faith No More - The Real Thing: Can you believe I didn't have this on LP? I also didn't have their very first one (We Care A Lot) but I picked that up on eBay last week. The Real Thing has become somewhat of a rarity over the past year or so, so I was glad to snatch up a really nice copy.

Sir Mix-A-Lot - "My Hooptie" 12": Like I wasn't going to pick up some Seminar-era Mix-A-Lot for three bucks. Includes the non-album track "Society's Creation," which I haven't listened to yet.

Wool - Budspawn: I always thought "Medication" was a cool song, and it's on here. Combine that with blue vinyl and a $5 dollar price tag - I'm in.

Sonic Youth - The Destroyed Room: I've seen new copies of this 2006 b-sides collection around here and there, but never wanted to pay full price for it. Held out for the used copy, and found one.

Sonic Youth - Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star: Saw this on blue vinyl at the record show in Eugene a few months back; didn't want to pay $45 for it. Didn't. Got it at Night Owl for more than half that. Boom.

Minor Threat - First Two 7"s on a 12": Is that the official name of this thing? Either way, I got the reissued version on green vinyl, with a sweet lyric sheet/poster thingy.

Digital Underground - Sex Packets: Been waiting forever to find this on wax. Finally did. The cover and record seem to be in really good shape and I suspect reissue, but I can't find any date later than 1990 on it...

Beck - Guerolito: Had the CD, wanted the vinyl. Finally found it non-new.

Belle & Sebastian - Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant: Been rocking The Boy With the Arab Strap recently, and wanted another one. Got it.

Karp/Rye Coalition - Split 12": Great cover, in great shape, with all the inserts. Shit's going to get noisy. (Speaking of noisy, the girl in front of me at the table I got this from bought a copy of godheadSilo's first LP that I totally would have bought. Bunk.)

Eagles of Death Metal - Peace, Love & Death Metal: This record never shows itself in public, and people try to charge way too much for it on eBay. Been wanting it for a while. Happy to finally have found it.

Unwound - Unwound: My Unwound collection continues to grow really, really slowly.

TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes: Had the CD for years, and record stores always charge way too much for the vinyl. Finally found it at a price I could feel good about.

Faith No More - "A Small Victory" 12": This is the one with the remixes on it, but it has a different track listing than the CD, I think. This LP is promo-only, I'm now realizing. Eh. Cool to have. And it was cheap.

They Might Be Giants - "(She Was A) Hotel Detective" 12": When I see TMBG shit on vinyl, I pretty much always buy it, because you don't often see it floating around. This thing is in great shape and I couldn't pass it up.

I had a little money left at the end, and on a whim picked up The Desolate One by Just-Ice. He had a song that I liked a lot when I was a kid, and the record was cheap. Got it home and realized the vinyl is a 12" single for one of the songs from the LP that I thought I bought. Lame. Now I don't know what to do. I don't want to throw it away, but I hate the mis-matchedness of it all. We'll see.

So that's how it went down. And with my turntable back in action, it all sounds better than ever. Feeling good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Special Report: Best Kissers In The World Reuniting!

This posting showed up on Gerald Collier's Facebook yesterday:

"You asked for it and you got it...... July 30th...The Tractor Tavern, Seattle WA. Not a reunion but a continuation.....rising like a Phoenix from Arizoregon. Best Kissers In The World."

And that's all I know. Well, I guess I also know that I'll be attending.

Here's "Pickin' Flowers For" to get you back in the mood.

Also: I will be back soon with the normal posting. I just have some of my own music to make, and sadly, this blog takes away from that. Shouldn't be long.