ke Music Diary Project, Day Two | B Michael Tumblr

Music Diary Project, Day Two

I don’t get out of bed in time, and one of the dog’s has gone on the floor. She hasn’t quite figured out the point of going outside, yet, or she just doesn’t care or can’t care to wait for me to get dressed.

I drink to large glasses of water after cleaning up, and take the dogs out. I listen to the Freakonomics Radio show about predicting things. You can’t predict things, is what it says. It’s very muggy outside, warm.

We get home, and I go to do the dishes from last night and make coffee. I put on FreeDarko Presents: The Disciples of Clyde Podcast. With my characteristic timing, I listen to the episode about how college basketball is inferior to professional basketball. They talk about college basketball the whole time, though, and it sounds like maybe they would like college basketball if they didn’t have kids or girlfriends or whatever.

Now that I have all my morning routine stuff done, it’s time to smoke a cigarette and select something to listen to. I start again with my Recently Added smartplaylist, and find a bunch of music I recently downloaded. I select Simon Rattle’s Stravinksy’s Rite of Spring because it feels like spring outside, and I think it will kick my ass in gear, and because I’ve taken to calling things “Stravinsky-like” lately, and I want to refresh my memory.

This recording is very quiet; it’s from 1947 so that makes sense. With my headphone amp turned to about 3:30, its dynamics are fairly assertive, but the OS X computer sounds are ridiculously loud. It’s one of the downsides of using your computer as a transport.

The swooning brass and strings about 1/3 way through “L’Adoration De La Terre: Rond Printanieres” is what I think a lot of modern rap production sounds like.

Anyway, listening to Rite of Spring was pretty vital and bracing. Sometimes I think I have childhood memories of watching Fantasia, and that colors my thinking on the piece, but I probably don’t.

Sleater-Kinney’s “Dig Me Out” comes next in iTunes, and I don’t change it turn it down. It’s hard to argue with the fact that the song sounds very vital, as well. After upgrading my headphones, I notice drumming a lot more. Janet Weiss’s drumming is pretty straight forward, but the production is crisp. I like it. I probably like the album The Woods the most out of S-K’s catalog, but the drum production is pretty specific on that recording.

I turn off iTunes after “Dig Me Out” because I have a phone meeting.

I decide to listen to one last song before my meeting. Scrolling down, I get to Soulja Boy’s “1UP,” a song I clearly like. Also, I dive into a spreadsheet to prepare. I’m tempted to listen to “Weed Shoes” after “1UP,” but I have work…

You’ve got me at a strange time. The site I use to get music is offering a promotion: Get everything “free”—as in freer than it usually is.

I’m going through various Best of lists to find things to get and replace albums I’ve deleted. While I’m doing all this, I decide to finally listen to Blur, an album I decidedly love.

Again with the percussion. It’s so sparkling on “Beetlebum.” The acoustic rhythm guitar, Coxon’s crashing lead in the right channel. I mean, this is perhaps the best pop rock album of the 90s.

It’s certainly not because it’s popular. I think I dislike “Song 2,” though. Its slinky lead guitar is kind of gorgeous, but it’s nothing without the constant keening of what sounds like a single high pedal point, turning around its usual deployment in guitar music. Kind of. The middle channel fart bloom of a sound. I don’t know. There’s a lot there, especially for a 2 minute song, but come on. “Wire,” is all I have to say about that.

Aside from “Song 2,” I love every song on Blur a hundred percent. The album’s closest analog, I think, is New Adventures in Hi-Fi, R.E.M.s best album. That’s another rock-genre-spanning album that boasts impressive instrumentation, crisp/out there production, and rock solid writing. It’s like both bands tried to write the Platonic (American) Rock Album, and they both succeeded, showing their individual talents in the process.

Shit. The dogs want to go out. I’m just getting into this.

I listen to yesterday’s Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast. I’m pretty sick of Matthew Berry, but without reading all the blogs, this seems like the best way to get dork info. It’s amazingly nice outside. Sprinkling a bit, but definitely springtime weather. I check in with work, and decide to go to the grocery store and finish listening to this podcast.

OK, in between thought and expression, it started pouring rain outside. I made it across the street, and then I turned around and came home. I pick up with Blur, at “M.O.R.” (Very good drum sounds.)

"On Your Own" may be my favorite Blur song for a few reasons:

  • Silly-ish lyrics. Like, they’re supposed to be American or about America I think, but they’re just funny to me because they seem kind of Tocquevillianly disconnected from America, as well.
  • That guitar riff!

Well, I suppose that’s it. The sum of it all is lots of energy and good feeling, as well. But that doesn’t seem like a bullet point.

Oh shoot. I always forget that “You’re So Great” is actually my favorite Blur song.

I pause Blur at “Death of the Party” because Maura and Chris Weingarten tweet about @LiturgyNYC’s "Generation". I listen to the first third and think, ‘Ehhh…,’ but the tempo changes slightly, and that’s the first thing my mind can grab onto, and then… I don’t know. It’s kind of “brvtal,” but I don’t see the appeal. I skip ahead to the final twenty seconds, and it sounds like the first twenty seconds. Sorry guys, if the whole thing is loud, then it might as well be quiet!

I skip the rest of “Death of the Party” and go to “Chinese Bombs.” What a goofy song.

"I’m Just a Killer for your Love" is surprisingly heavy, heavier sounding than I remember it.

OK, this is probably the last time I’ll say this, but I forgot that “Look Inside America” is my favorite Blur song… Well, it’s my favorite first 30 seconds of a Blur song. Then it becomes a treacly Beatles song. (Not that I dislike that! I love the treacly Beatles songs! Ask my girlfriend, who loves John!) There’s also a heavily McCartney-esque bass part in this song. Blur cracks me up. British bands crack me up. Anyway, there’s a lot of perspectival stuff going on, but I’m deep in spreadsheet hell, so I figure to put on something that’s less think-y and more type-y.

Boris and Merzbow’s Rock Dream it is.

Oops. I see a tweet by Chuck Klosterman and pause the Boris album to listen to some videos of Radiohead covering Neil Young songs. The way Thom’s voice overloads the mics on “After the Gold Rush” makes it sound like an old timey recording, which befits the song well. “On the Beach,” one of my favorite Neil Young songs, sounds really spare and sinister; so, the usual Radiohead treatment. I feel like I get the idea, and click on “Tell Me Why,” another favorite song.

(I mean, ok. I have a lot of favorite songs/albums/bands, but that’s the nature of it. I love music.)

OK, it’s stopped raining, so I put on the latest Fantasy Focus Baseball, and go to the store.

WHEW that was a long diversion. I grabbed some lunch at my super-secret lunch spot, and then went to the grocery store. I listened to the baseball podcast, and some more of the Jordan, Jesse, Go! podcast. It was ok. Jesse Thorn is not very funny, and he does that I’m-not-being-very-funny-right-now sort of anti-joke, and it’s either a little funny or makes me want to murder him depending on how much I want to smoke a cigarette.

So let’s return to a topic I brought up earlier. I get a bunch of older albums based on their availability. Most of the albums are ones I already had, and deleted, but have since decided I’d like. They are these:

  • Neil Young, On The Beach
  • Neil Young, After The Gold Rush
  • [Both of those were queued up to get before I watched the Radiohead videos.]
  • The Replacements, Tim
  • The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • T. Rex, Electric Warrior
  • The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  • Kraftwerk, Trans-Europe Express
  • The Breeders, POD
  • The Breeders, Last Splash
  • The Clash, London Calling
  • Miles Davis, A Tribute to Jack Johnson
  • Black Sabbath - Paranoid
  • Aaliyah, Aaliyah
  • Manic Street Preachers, The Holy Bible
  • Primal Scream, Screamadelica

Is it ok for me to get these online, even if I’ve already bought (and lost) about half of them? No. I suppose part of it is that I will end up deleting many of these albums and re-getting them, and deleting them, and if there were a perfect in-the-clouds solution for listening to music that would work on the subway somehow and when I don’t have a cell phone, etc., I would probably do it. I tried Rdio, but it didn’t have a lot of what I wanted, and I didn’t like using the website. Wah wah wah, I know.

I immediately delete 69 Love Songs without listening to it. I’m pretty sure I have those CDs around here somewhere, anyway.

I notice that the sound space in “War Pigs” makes a lot of sense. I would never call the sound crisp, but it’s really pretty well arranged. I would also like to point out that in “Paranoid,” the guitarist in the right channel messes up a lot. It sounds like a string is sticking to his finger or something when he depresses it at the end of every main riff. It’s a little distracting, damn these headphones.

Upon first hearing “Iron Man,” I make plans to get a large cup of coffee and listen to it three more times, successively, and smoke a cigarette.

OK, so I listen to “Iron Man” just once more, and decide to try out one of the above albums I’ve never heard (hint: I’ve never heard five of them): Trans-Europe Express.

I’m not going to lie: This first song is pretty cheesy-sounding. It sounds like video game music. … OK, I made it through the second song, and I deleted the album. I’m sure it’s good or whatever, but it’s not for me.

Time to listen to Screamadelica. I already like this album significantly more than Trans-Europe Express. It’s got a Spiritualized vibe to it. And it’s dancey. I like it. Yeah, definitely. I love this. It’s interesting to think about this British dance rock type music vis-a-vis LCD Soundsyste. Or isn’t it? I don’t have any opinions. It’s funny that LCD is steeped well into tradition, but doesn’t really sound anything like this decades old album.

Some things come up, and I’m no longer in the mood to listen to Screamadelica, even though I like it all right. I put on Songs: Ohia’s The Magnolia Electric Co.

This is another of my favorite albums. It goes well with almost any mood, but there are some moods it goes better with, you know? The first three songs are of a piece. I think I’ve written about them on my Tumblr before, so I don’t know. Sorry. I feel pretty drained right now. I should put on something that will be a little more uplifting, anyway.

Oof. OK, so “Just Be Simple” came on, as it’s wont to do, and I was, as they say, powerless to change things. For one things: Jason Molina’s vocal register is smack dab in the middle of most any guy’s vocal register. So he’s ripe for singing along with. And the kind of rangy, semi-harmonies in this song invite it, as well. And the lyrics invite it. Singing along—I think there was trend of sing along songs (Danielson and such?) a few years ago—singing along is so great because music is, to use a kind of wrong word, very tribal. The whole point of music is—

I don’t really know, but I think it has something to do with singing along with someone, or singing together with some people. “Just Be Simple” is, well, simple—it expresses an idea very simply, and it yearns for simplicity. (It’s in the class of unintentionally self-referential things, like Louis C.K.’s Hilarious, perhaps.)

And then the problem with listening to “Just Be Simple” is that “Almost Was Good Enough” is next, and you can’t change it then. It has one of the most thrilling (and underrated?) lyrical turns: “I remember when / It didn’t use to be so hard. It used to be impossible.” You usually don’t see a lot of powerful enjambment in songs, at least I don’t. But this one is devastating. But if it used to be impossible, and now it’s just hard, why is it so sad? I don’t know, but it is. Maybe it should be impossible. At least it sounds that way.

I go back in time, but along a similar path, and put on Beggars Banquet. The recent-ish remaster of the album sounds so beautiful. I don’t know. There’s not really a lot to say about this album. There’re some warmed over bits: “Dear Doctor,” “Parachute Woman,” “Jigsaw Puzzle” (especially). But overall, I mean, duh, it’s a great album. I remember being really into this album junior year of college, thinking it was the best Rolling Stones album. I don’t exactly think that, anymore. But I can see why someone would think that. It’s fairly inarguable to me that the Beatles’s albums and Miles Davis’s albums during the same time are about as good, perhaps better, but all three artists are in the same ballpark here. Eh, I should put something else on, though.

I put on the Silver Jews’ Natural Bridge (the best SJ album) and go back to doing some boring work.

The first song is, of course, brilliant. A ghost story. Amazing. I love it. One thing that’s always nagged me about the song is why Berman pans “Who married one, but she loved another” all the way to the right channel when the rest of the vocals are in the center. Was it a mistake? What’s the significance?

Aww, I haven’t listened to “Pet Politics” since I got my dogs. It’s very poignant for me now.

I mean, Natural Bridge deserves a 33 1/3 book, right? I wish I thought I could write that.

God, hearing the bass playing on this album makes me think I could have been in the Silver Jews. Nothing against their bass player. Really, it’s more I wish I could have been in the Silver Jews and this seems like the easiest way.

OK, I have a new plan. (Aside from starting many of my paragraphs with “OK.”) I’m going to listen to “Dallas” on repeat until I intuit how to play it on guitar and memorize all the words.

I like the two-part structure of the song. It reminds me of an Italian sonnet. How do the two parts fit together? How do they inform each other? Heh, it just occurred to me that this may not be a two-part song. I always thought of the beginning erotic CPR part as distinct from the BB King on General Hospital part, but that latter part may just be like a middle eight. Oh well.

OK, I think I have a good idea of the song, so I let the album proceed to “Inside the Golden Days of Missing You.” The line about the long-suffering people of Cleveland is kind of even more funny now than ever before.

I like how everyone is always like, ‘There must be a German word for this,’ and in “Albermarle Station,” Berman says

There must be a Spanish word for this feeling.
The rush I get when I am stealing
From the Dust Congress whose dollars and dimes,
Say, ‘In dust we trust.’

May I ask, what in the fuck is that supposed to mean? But it’s also perfect. Wishing there were a German word for a feeling means roughly that you know something’s component parts and wish there were a kind of recherche way of synthesizing them. But wishing there were a “Spanish word” seems to connote a dearth of emotion in your native tongue. One is an intellectualized yearning that’s already almost fulfilled, while the other is an emotional yearning that will never be fulfilled, because Spanish is the most emotive language in the world. As far as the Dust Congress is concerned, it’s just a magical image that Berman regularly summons.

The Starlight Walker comes next. The introduction with Malkmus is sweet. “Trains Across The Sea” is sweeter. Heh, I just started typing out the first verse, but I actually won’t. It’s perfect, though. The second verse is basically perfect, as well. I listen to the whole album, anyway. Parts are stone brilliant, others kind of jar you with their juvenility. But Berman’s always had that side, especially when he was younger. The Silver Jews have a strong claim to being my favorite band of all-time. I wish I had seen them on the one fucking tour they made…

Tanglewood Numbers comes on, next. It’s my least-favorite, but a few of the songs are stand-outs. “Punks In the Beerlight,” obviously. Actually, most of the songs are stand-outs, and suddenly I’m not sure why this is my least-favorite. I mean, I don’t currently have the latest Silver Jews album on my computer, and maybe not the first one, so those would be my least-favorite. I kind of look at music that doesn’t reside on my hard drive as not existing, which could explain why I never keep track of new rap songs on YouTube.

OK, well I make it to “I’m Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You,” a very sweet song, but it’s time to take the dogs out.

I also go back to the grocery store, because I realize I want to make something called a portabello caesar salad. I listen to a bunch of Jordan, Jesse, Go!, but I don’t really want to talk about it. It was all right.

It was either a line in something I read recently, or it was a song: The feeling of drinking a cold beer on an empty stomach. Damn that’s a good feeling. I put My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on my iPhone as I cut and wash various leafy greens and reds.

Ok, I just down some thoughts on a legal pad while I cooked dinner (portabello caesar salad and chicken sandwiches). “Gorgeous” is—gah—another one of those perfectly self-descriptive songs. Kanye’s rap runs the gamut from old-school self-conscious rapping to contemporary materialism. It’s actually a little sad that A) hip-hop is basically where it was on a social level right now as where it was in the 70s, and b) the hilarity of Kanye’s lines dart as sharp as everything else. (The “Choke a South Park writer with a fish stick” line kills me every time.)

(Nb, “I’d kill a small mammal [not a dog] for a salad spinner,” is something I wrote down.)

My desert island discs, right this moment: * Glenn Gould, The Golderberg Variations (1955) * Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy * ????

For serious.

"Seriously. Fuck the haters. I could listen to ‘All Of The Lights’ for always" is something I wrote.

On “Monster,” It’s **entirely possible* that Jay-Z disses Kanye:

All I see is these n-ggas I’ve made millionaires
Milling about, spilling there feelings in the air.
All I see is these fake fucks with no fangs
Tryna draw blood with my ice cold veins.
I smell a massacre.
Seems to be the only way to back you bastards up.

I mean, he’s probably referring to any number of rappers, but he could be referring to Ye.

It occurred to me during Ann Powers’s Twitter run that Kanye—and not Odd Future—is really the heir apparent to outraged social conscious rap. I mean, I love Odd Future and their teenaged vitality, but Kanye’s actually experienced death and loss in his life. He’s the one who’s got the experience and the talent to express real social outrage. I think most teenagers feel (perhaps rightly) aggrieved. But they don’t exactly know yet just how fucking insidious the world is.

Oh, and a note to Pusha-T: “Half a [million dollars] in $20s” is “like a billion [dollars]” to just about everyone. So… yeah. You don’t really gain credibility for Virginia with that line.

OK, it’s time to veg out to Netflix and read the rest of (the really really really excellent, finally) Skippy Dies. It’s 9:30pm.